Electrification is to blame.
According to Mercedes-Benz's design boss, electrification will kill the beloved three-box sedan. Gorden Wagener made this startling revelation in a recent interview with Top Gear. When you think about it, we shouldn't be surprised. The three-box sedan was already on the way out. Ford famously axed all of its sedans, Acura ditched the RLX, and even the evergreen Chevy Impala had no chance of survival. The rise of the crossover is the main reason, as we predicted back in 2016.
Wagener has other theories, however. The three-box sedan shape isn't optimal when it comes to electrification. Wagener's first reason is aerodynamics. If you look at an image of a classic Mercedes-Benz sedan, you'll note that aerodynamics were not high on the list of design demands. Many modern sedans do a better job but not compared to the all-new EQS and the lengths Mercedes had to go to to make it as slippery as possible.
The second reason is design. Wagener puts it quite bluntly. "With a six-inch battery pack, a three-box sedan simply doesn't look good, it looks sh*t," he said, and it's hard to disagree. All of the best-looking sedans are low-slung, road-hugging vehicles. The Alfa Romeo Giulia is a prime example. Imagine adding six inches to the side profile to accommodate a battery pack? It would ruin the aesthetics completely.
Wagener came up with a simple solution to the problem. The latest EQ models are stretched to accommodate the necessary powertrain requirements while retaining the elegance Mercedes is known for.
Top Gear then asked an extremely relevant yet somewhat poncy question. Will designers have to tone down the overall design of cars to make them less aggressive? As in, since we're going environmentally friendly, should the design of future cars reflect that? Wagener gave a vague answer about how good or bad a design is executed, but we can already see it happening from our side.
Electric cars don't have grilles for obvious reasons. There's no engine to cool down. The result is usually a rather bland, blocked-off front end with a badge. Even Volvo agrees that EV design needs to change.
You can see Mercedes-Benz getting around this problem by adding fake slats to the front of the EQS. Look at it in comparison to the Tesla Model S below.
When asked if Wagener will miss the three-box sedan, he's equally blunt. He won't, mostly because designing a good-looking one is quite difficult. We're not entirely convinced that's the truth because the 2022 BMW i4 still looks quite handsome to us - as long as you don't look at the front end.