As we march forward into a future with more electrification, it’s becoming clearer that a number of body styles could end up being left in the past. For Mercedes-Benz, it thinks the future is even further upmarket than it currently is, and that apparently means that some models must fall under the guillotine. Among those not making it will be most of its coupes and wagons.
This was first reported by the folks at Car and Driver, and despite how sad it is, the news shouldn’t be surprising. The wagon has struggled for relevance in a market where the crossover is king. Back in 2021, even wagon stalwart Volvo admitted that SUVs are its bread and butter, and while it wasn’t going to completely discontinue wagons, it needed to cut back. Later that year, Volvo reduced its wagon lineup in America by killing off the standard V90 and V60 models.
Mercedes’ New Strategy
For Mercedes-Benz, the wagon apocalypse started in 2020, when Mercedes-Benz Chief Operating Officer Markus Schäfer reportedly said that wagons had dwindling appeal and that a focus on EVs meant no real need for the long roofs that enthusiasts love. In 2022, German auto media reported that Mercedes planned to kill off wagons by the end of the decade. This was apparently part of a long-term strategic plan announced in May 2022, which involves Mercedes-Benz downsizing and moving further upmarket. Now we know a little more about this plan and it’s quite dramatic.
According to Car and Driver, Mercedes is betting on a future where luxury is a bit different than it is now. In this future, Mercedes-Benz products will be prepared to ease pressure on the driver, extended personalized mobility services, and the brand will hone in on creature comfort as one of its key brand values. All of those buzzwords apparently add up to a less diverse set of body styles. I suppose you don’t need a wagon to have great creature comforts. Of course, Mercedes’ new brand strategy is also about boosting profits. Car and Driver figures that based on what it has seen, Mercedes is offering 33 body styles for customers in Europe and the States, but just 14 of them will come out of the other end of this plan.
And if you still had any doubts, the publication got direct quotes:
“At the end of the day, we simply don’t need estate cars [wagons] or underperforming two-door offerings to boost volumes,” a senior member of Mercedes-Benz’s strategy team told Car and Driver. “The most essential elements of sustainable contemporary luxury cars are space and time . . . That’s our number one priority—not another fancy body style, a model that only works in Europe, or one last stab at a dying segment.”
Currently, buyers in the United States can buy an E-class wagon from Mercedes-Benz. Thankfully, that’s set to get another generation. However, it too will fall in 2030. Car and Driver notes that the E-class will be the marque’s last wagon. Over in Europe, the C-class wagon will make it to 2028 and the E-class will get another generation before dying in 2030. The CLA-class will also get another generation in 2025, where it will ride on the electric MMA platform. Mercedes calls the CLA-class a shooting brake, and it will be the last of its kind, too.
Wagons Were A Staple Of Mercedes-Benz
When 2030 rolls around, the wagon will have been a part of Mercedes history for 77 years, so it’ll be sad to see it go. The automaker traces its wagon roots back to 1953, from Mercedes-Benz:
There have been estate models bearing the Mercedes star for more than 50 years now. Yet the early vehicles were not produced in Sindelfingen, rather they were the work of specialist body manufacturers: the 170 V was supplied by Lueg (Bochum) from 1953 as a station wagon, while at the end of the 1950’s Binz (Lorch) produced an estate version of the classic Mercedes 300 (Adenauer). These were followed by versions of the “Ponton”, “Fintail” and the “Stroke/8” (produced by Binz and Miesen respectively).
However, the Stuttgart engineers and designers are not totally unfamiliar with the practical body variants featuring large load spaces. Initially, Mercedes-Benz itself sold the small fintail model of the Belgian manufacturer IMA as an estate, under the name “Universal”. And the estate version of the Stroke/8, which was developed up to series production stage, already demonstrated what an attractive station wagon should look like. Admittedly the estate was not being produced at that point.
Nevertheless, market research conducted by Mercedes in the 1970s highlighted the fact that there was significant demand for a sporty, luxurious five-door vehicle for recreational and family use, and in 1975 the executive board therefore gave the project the green light. However, the new Mercedes was not to be called a “Kombi”. The names “Universal” and “Station Wagon” were not approved either. Finally the decision was made – the new variant was to be designated with the abbreviation “T”, which stood for “Tourism” and “Transport”. Only the internal series designation still hinted at the term “Station Wagon”: to this day the Estate still bears the letter “S” as a prefix to the series number.
Series production of the S 123 Estate model commenced in April 1978 at the Bremen factory. The rear end, with its extended roof, and the low load compartment sill, turned the new model variant into a true sensation of space: even when the standard seats for the driver and up to four passengers are fitted, the station wagon still had room for a load of 523 litres up to the edge of the windows. With the rear seat bench folded down, the load space even swallowed loads of 879 litres up to the edge of the windows.
Those models sparked a long line of attractive and practical wagons that last to this day. From the legendary W123 to the current E-class, enthusiasts love Mercedes wagons, but it looks like not enough of them are sold to justify their continued existence.
More Dying Models
As for what else is dying? Well, the bloodbath continues. The C-class and E-class coupes and convertibles will be discontinued somewhere between this year and next year. Those cars will be consolidated into a single convertible model. The CLS-class will be offed next year, and the four-door versions of the AMG GT are expected to die next year or in 2025. Even those SUVs that are shaped like coupes aren’t going to make it. GLE and GLC Coupes will get another generation before going extinct.
Thankfully, it’s not all bad news. There’s a new GT coupe coming this year and in 2026 there will be a new four door coupe as well as a new SL roadster. The report indicates that these new models will be electric, along with a new AMG GT. Speaking of AMG, apparently, that division and Maybach will be getting a bigger focus, too. That makes sense given the strategy is to move further upmarket. So, fun isn’t entirely dead at Mercedes, but one thing’s for sure, the automakers we know and love are changing, and some enthusiasts will be left behind.
I reached out to Mercedes-Benz for more information.
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It all about the batteries. With 11+ cm of batteries under the floor, most hacthbacks and wagons will loose headroom unless you highten the roof and presto you have a cross over / SUV.
Could we get Jason to illustrate alternative battery placements that allows for other proportions?
GM’s EV1 had the T set up.
They’re going to go MORE luxurious? It used to be easier to create luxury vehicles. Add more chrome, carpeting, leather, some gadgets a big engine and extra size. But now even low end cars are as plush as luxury vehicles and many can outperform them. So where is there left to go, really? And whatever it is, some manufacturer (probably Chinese) will say, “Yeah, we can do that, and at lower price.”
IDK. Personally, I’ll have to politely disagree. Though, that’s not to say that you’re entirely wrong by any means. Yes, the low end cars have gotten way better in every regard than they have ever been in terms of offering decent tech and nice build quality. The Japanese (I.e. Honda’s, Toyota’s, Subaru’s, etc.) have gotten better in offering a nice package for their segments and whatnot based on varying trim levels. Interestingly, Mazda seems to be only one at crossroads as they’ve been an economy brand for quite some time with some failed attempts towards luxury sub-brands (Amati & Eunos), but Mazda have only been starting to push slowly towards becoming upmarket as the main brand itself. Also the Japanese entry level marques even best some of the entry-entry level German products ( Mercedes’ CLA, GLA, GLB, and A-Class; BMW’s 2 Series GC, X1, X2; Audi Q2, Q3, A3) on performance and equivalent build quality. HOWEVER, The Germans still currently have advantages like RWD from the RWD compact segment (3 series and C Class) and the driving fun of the potent trims. The Badge even speak for themselves based on the heritage those Germans pack. Those advantages are brought up since we’re comparing them to low end marques and not the Japanese luxury marques.
As for MB wanting to move back to MORE luxury, MB has made some of the most genuine, highest quality uber-luxe products since the beginning of their time that didn’t just rival the British boys (Bentley and RR), but rather hung and played with them. So, yeah, time will tell how this move back towards Uber-luxury should go over for MB, but I will say that if done properly, I can see them regaining quite the sizable chunks of their prestige and glory that they’ve sort of lost along the way. To be honest, this move needed to happen for Mercedes, because there were tiring amounts of overlap within their lineup. Most of it at the bottom end of their lineup that eventually affected the rest of their lineup.
Sorry for the long rant!
‘So where is there left to go, really?’
Honest to God fully autonomous driving for one.
I think there’s plenty of room to go more luxurious. For one, MB can focus on initial and early life quality. Too many of their vehicles go back to the dealer in the first 6 months for CELs and I’ve known a couple to drop their entire lower dash into the passenger footwell in the first year.
Secondly, they can double down on easing the driving task: simplify controls & readouts, improve ergonomics for the driver, and deliver features that aid the users rather than whiz-bang showpieces.
Third, go back to true luxury materials with excellent fit and finish. Everyone can slap a set of synthetic leather seats into a vehicle that look decent on day one. Everyone can slap a woodgrain patterned plastic slab on the dash or hotglue an iPad to the dash. Go back to real leather, use wool tweed, or develop a new cotton/linen cloth with a great hand. Integrate the displays more cleanly or find a better way to display the information.
Think about non-automotive luxury products. You have “luxury” brands that consist solely of the name, but the products are non-functional or not durable. Then you have true luxury objects & tools. Things that function flawlessly out of the box, and for years to come with minimal maintenance. Things that feel better in the hand than the department store versions, things that get more beautiful with age and use.
Imagine a luxury car that’s never in the shop, and doesn’t need a 37,000 point inspection every 15 miles. Imagine one that blends laser high beam headlights, radar returns, thermal and nightvision cameras into an augmented reality display through the windshield that helps you pick out the deer or disabled car on the side of the road long before you’re on top of it.
Love my S212. So much utility without being another damn CUV. And I’ve had a bunch of W123s (but none wagons, yet). Always nice to see them get a mention.
This surprises me. Well, no new wagons for the European market part surprises me, anyway. Spent some time last fall in Switzerland/Bavaria/Austria etc. and saw European brand wagons everywhere. MB, BMW, Peugeot, Renault, VW- scads of them. Seemed popular there like CUVs here.
Maybe this is a marketing stunt where MB is going to pull them back so they can be re-introduced with amazing grandeur in a few years?
Seriously, way to stab the whole-ass DACH region in the heart. Wagons, glorious wagons everywhere over there.
I’m confused. I thought MB’s strategy has been to have like 150 versions of essentially the same thing. So if they pair back the models, will it be 150 versions of a CUV or will it be less models that are better designed and better built? They really are a noisy brand.
At the very least I hope they move on from the pinched poop styling motif.
Am I the only one who thinks Mercedes jumped the shark more than two decades ago? Honestly, they used to be known for innovation and QUALITY, but they handed the innovation crown to Tesla and the EV startups, and quality went down the drain in the early aughts. In the global car business, everyone sources from the same suppliers, so Mercedes cars share transmissions with cheap asian cars and American trucks. It used to be you expected a Mercedes to last forever, but now their “luxury” feels like it’s just a bunch of techno gimmicks and fancy leather that will all implode 5 minutes after the warranty is up.
Congratulations on your decision to turn your skills to appliances. KitchenAid and Maytag are put on notice! Eager to have a toaster that says, “The Best or Nothing.”
I think this is great news. In my view, Mercedes has gone too far down-market in recent years. They should use the Smart brand for cheaper offerings.
Also for years, I thought they had too many models. I’m fine with them killing off many coupe and convertible models… just as long as they keep the SL and SLC.
And those stupid SUV coupes? That’s great news that those abominations are getting the axe.
If Mercedes is killing models, can they pleeeease kill off the GLA250? And let me be the one to put a knife through it’s heart? Unfortunately, I bet those will survive the bloodbath.
Give it a restyle inside and out and it might not be a bad vehicle for Smart. But yeah, I agree, it’s not worthy of the Mercedes name.
Another thing about these Mercedes wagon is because they are not made in US (vs their SUV counterparts), they are often more expensive. So to people who don’t really care, they just don’t appear to offer as good a value vs the G* models.
I feel like M-B as I’ve known and loved it all my life is gone. The W123 and R107 to me defined Mercedes Benz when I was growing up. Le sigh.
Another thing: if you’ve ever lived or traveled to Europe and Asia and witnessed all sorts of MBs slogging around a city as common taxis, it’s difficult to view any Mercedes as a premium vehicle. Truly, these are bare bones models, but, nevertheless, they are ringers for their expensive siblings flogged in North America. I’ll be damned if I’d pay MB prices for something that looks just like a Filipino taxi (though I’d love to have a Filipino Jeepney like those that passed my house all day in Angeles City).
The last two taxis I’ve been in were an EQS and a EQB, they’ve always dominated the taxi market here.
It was a chilly autumn morning, and the city streets still held in the chaotic buzziness of last night’s holiday traffic. Patrick had been working since the late hours of the previous night following a customer outage, and his body craved sleep and caffeine. First, though, he would fill his veins with nicotine and wistfully think about the last time he took a vacation. Was it Maui in 2021? Or Madrid? He couldn’t remember, as life reemerging from Covid seemed like one gigantic blur.
Foot traffic was exceptionally light and then Patrick realized it was Saturday, the day after Thanksgiving. Lizzy’s parents had been expecting them and he felt slightly guilty about having to cancel last minute and trek all the way to the office. But he was paid handsomely for his job and he reminded himself that one day his income would set him and Lizzy free from the stresses of corporate life.
His mind started to drift and now he tried to close his eyes while inhaling his cigarette and imagine a field with nothing in it except corn stalks and scare crows. For a moment, Patrick felt like he was 10 years old again, shirking his responsibilities as a farm hand and hiding hours away while his parents labored to make ends meat. Those Iowa days were long gone and Patrick was almost surprised at his lack of emotion, now replaced by a stoicism that had hardened over the last decade.
He was suddenly jolted by the bark of a highly strung motor, desperately gulping air and fuel as it unleashed its fury inside the high-rise landscape. As it turned the corner on 10th street, Patrick was able to make out a rakish front end draped in silver bodywork with a subtle bulge that started at the grill and ran center down the entire length of the freakishly, long hood. As it neared, two vents, adorning either side of the bulge closest to the windscreen came into focus, and then he spotted the 3 pointed star in the center of the grill. This definitely wasn’t Lizzy’s C Class.
The Mercedes accelerated and then braked with authority, coming to a stop at the intersection where Patrick was standing. He took in the full profile, first starting with enormous side vents just aft of the front wheels and then fixated on the large doors which appeared to be scissor hinged. The shape was abruptly truncated at the rear with oversized rear taillights wrapping around the rear quarter and juxtaposing with the cut line of the rear bumper. A steeply raked rear windscreen gave the shape an almost shooting brake side profile.
As it sat there idling impatiently, Patrick discerned the sound of a V8 emanating not from the rear of the vehicle but the side. And that was when he saw the two pipes protruding unapologetically from the lower front sill, just behind the wild looking turbine wheel encasing a monster front rotor. It looked vaguely familiar, almost like a modern take on the Gullwing 300SL and in a flash Patrick recalled the NY Auto Show a few years back. Lizzy’s friend, Bill, had invited them to attend as guests of the press. Underneath the lights, occupying a formidable section of the Javits Center, was the same car Patrick stared at with the intensity of a micro surgeon. He played back Bill’s concise but expert commentary and could see his lips forming the words “limited production SLR”.
No sooner had those words gelled in his mind when the light turned green. A guttural growl emerged and the SLR was whisked away in what seemed like a few seconds, and the sound right before the 1-2 shift was higher pitched overlayed with the faint whine of a supercharger. It was a surreal moment, and the SLR continued accelerating through the gears waking up each sequential traffic light until it was just a tiny spec on the horizon. After a few miles, one of the lights must have gone back to sleep and Patrick could hear the rev matching of the manic, supercharged V8.
Lizzy was probably home and soon she would be chasing errands in her cookie cutter C300, not thinking for a second about the shape or what propelled it down the road. Patrick took one last puff of his cigarette, flicked it into the gutter and began dialing Lizzy’s cell phone. Today, he told himself, was when he would finally start living.
Yeah dude too long. Submit it to Readers Digest.
Made me pull up images it, just to remember what an incredible looking car.
Wagon owner (not M-B) reporting in: having put my money where my mouth is, I’m glad I got a 2019 model year because it seems like it’s basically my last chance at the body style for the foreseeable future. I sat in a VW ID4 at the dealership the other day… what a bloated-feeling vehicle compared to a nice tidy SportWagen. Alas!
Lets not forget the wagon does work well for new parents. But the cost of adding said rugrat eliminates many households from being able to afford a new wagon. That is why the used wagon market remains strong. Put a decent wagon out at a decent price while everyone is eliminating wagons from their offerings $$$$.
I was always under the impression that the target demographic for the wagons are for wealthy people that don’t like ostentatious wealth (similiar to old Cadillac clientele but for Europhiles), they ran ads on lawyers / doctor magazines. I guess that generation have finally shuffled off road to retirement homes.
They can just do what Tesla does with 3 and Y.. basically add a few inches onto the seat and ride height and call it an SUV.
My 2002 MT Saab 9-5 Aero wagon is still soldiering on at 300K+ miles. It was still on its original clutch at 280K. Other than that, some HVAC gremlins and subframe bushings, it’s been a perfect daily for many years, and I’m not getting rid of it any time soon. My buddy’s 2004 E-class wagon has been a disaster for the last few years and only has 150K on the clock. The drivetrain is bulletproof, but everything around it has needed to be replaced and the interior hasn’t aged well like the previous generations of Merc always did.
Couldn’t care less. I like wagons, estates, and shooting brakes, but MB hasn’t produced a car that interests me since the gull-wing 300 SL, plus the Unimog.
It felt inevitable but it still sucks. Mercedes wagons have been the gold standard for as long as I remember and they were pretty much single handedly keeping luxury and sporty wagons alive.
Expected but BOOOO.
Regarding wagons working for most SUV drivers: if we were all homo economicus maximizing utility, you are correct. But lots of folks equate wagons with fugly. Gimme an AMG wagon and I’m happy. Of course my family would disown me.
Fugly? Compared to the alternative, i.e. crossovers? I happen to think my Alltrack looks rather sharp.
The market speaks. Q5 and Q3 beat the snot out of all road and wagon Audis. And yes, outside our bubble of car enthusiasts and college professors, wagons are fugly, pocket protector dad driving, wood paneled, sex hormone reducing travesties of a bygone era.
Again, give me a high-po wagon and I’m a happy man gladly giving up our Macan to get it.
Station Wagons would work fine for 99.5% of the SUV driving populace.
Not likely. It’s the entry/exit and higher h-point of crossovers that draws a lot of buyers in to those vehicles over a regular car.
Funny thing. My aging friend eyes my wagon with envy now that his big aging dog needs to be lifted into his SUV.
Lower rooflines too, if you’re somebody who uses their roof rack.
That’s actually sort of more complicated than you expect.
Now, I personally have two issues with CUVs – price premium and space inefficiency. I do think a lot of buyers of popular CUVs – RAV4s et. al. – are missing out on not having a Camry (or similar) Wagon available. A wagon would get you more useful room, in the same way most sedans have more useful room. In my experience, a CUV has a lot less space – especially knee room – than a car at the same price point. So if you’ve got a car full of teenagers, you would want a wagon over a popular CUV for the same cash.
But… That’s not the whole story. CUVs good for people with babies, because it’s easier to put in the car seat – and kids don’t have to worry about the awful knee room on offer (“wait this sounds like a man with long thighs bitter about having to ride in the back of these things!” And you’re correct.) This is ALSO why trucks are bad for families with babies. You don’t want to be too high or too low, and CUVs are the right height for baby.
There are also people on the OTHER end of spectrum. Know why Kia Souls are extremely popular among the elderly? Ease of getting in and out. Compact CUVs are total grandma cars, because they don’t actually need the space but they do need the ease of entry.
So we have people with babies and little old ladies, and they would be better suited to a CUV than a wagon. And those are people who make up a significant proportion of the CUV buying public. That’s not even bringing up the big ones – an argument can be made in terms of minivan vs. big CUV, but a wagon isn’t going to be in the conversation.
As a large man of unorthodox proportions, I don’t want a mainstream CUV – they are typically a poor fit. Still, there are indeed drivers of those who would be happier in a wagon or sedan if given the chance. And there drivers for whom a CUV the best option.
But all of this is a thought exercise because none of these theoretical wagons exist.
Hey put a lift kit on the wagons and they will fit 100% of the SUV buyers.
I guess there’s a reason “enthusiast” and “euthanasia” are spelled using many of the same letters…
Luckily we have Mercedes-Streeter saving all the wagons
Alas, all of them thus far have been Volkswagens and a BMW.
Clearly, I chose the wrong name. lol
Given your appreciation for buses, you could have done much worse.
As an “Old” I often struggle to see the difference between many crossovers and wagons. They look a lot alike. Cannot these companies call their AWD wagons crossovers or CUVs or are they too practical and have too much storage to be crossovers?
And marketer’s bullshit.
Just what was thinking. Wagon vs SUV differences? SUV higher ride Wagon easier access for people in the 1st 2 rows and easier loading in the rear. I think Mercedes would be better off eliminating the terrible reliability quit trying to make a flying car and concentrate on building a car that EVERYONE thinks will explode 1 mile after the warranty expires. The rich didn’t get rich being stupid. Even they realize the importance of trade in value. If the dealerships don’t prop up the trade in value even Mercedes buyers will go elsewhere.
While, yes, there are far too many Mercedes models out there, the coupes and wagons are not amongst them.