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Mercedes-Benz CLK designo by Giorgio Armani

The CLK-Class Cabriolet and designer Giorgio Armani

The CLK-Class Cabriolet and designer Giorgio Armani

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At the Paris Motor Show, Mercedes-Benz will be presenting an exclusive special-edition CLK-Class Cabriolet personalised by the renowned Italian fashion designer Giorgio Armani. The colours and materials used give the successful four-seater Mercedes cabriolet a highly distinctive look. And thanks to a special paint in a warm sand tone and an interior of high-quality materials to match, the Giorgio Armani cabriolet exudes a luxurious air. Only 100 units of this elegant vehicle will be offered worldwide as part of the exclusive Mercedes-Benz designo range.

The designo range allows discerning customers to personalise their Mercedes-Benz using a selection of exclusive material and paint finish options. Each of the 100 vehicles represents the common design philosophy of Mercedes-Benz and Giorgio Armani and will be issued with a certificate that confirms its limited-edition status.

The idea for the collaboration between Mercedes-Benz and the Milan-based fashion designer arose following the automaker's five city tour sponsoring of the Salomon R. Guggenheim's 'Giorgio Armani: Retrospective' exhibition. A Mercedes-Benz CLK Design show car was then developed that was unveiled during Milan Fashion Week in Autumn 2003.

Giorgio Armani worked closely with the Mercedes design studio in Como, northern Italy, on what was his first automotive design project. "We very quickly found a common language," he says. "It was fascinating to see how Mercedes-Benz turned my design ideas into reality with such attention to detail. I think the result speaks for itself."

Encouraged by the positive feedback to the show car, Mercedes-Benz decided to launch a limited-edition version under its exclusive designo range, which claims the competence to customise Mercedes-Benz cars on individual demands by working with the finest materials and special effect paints.

The entire vehicle exterior is painted in an Armani-trademark matt sand colour, with discreet green shading. The unique matt paint was developed by Mercedes-Benz and translates the lines of the CLK-Class Cabriolet in a very effective way. Glossy black decorative elements in various places add an extra touch. The roof covering, the colour of which was carefully chosen to complement the vehicle body, was developed exclusively for this high-class limited-edition series.

Inside, the seating fabric and a high-tech silk matt film harmonise with the colour of the exterior paint job. Giorgio Armani has achieved surprising effects, partly by removing materials from their traditional contexts and combining them in unusual ways to create something new. For example, he has taken cuoio, a prized saddle leather often seen in the 1940s and 1950s yet rarely used today, and combined it with high-tech sportswear textiles. Thanks to the three-dimensional textile structure, the seats and other parts of the vehicle are well ventilated.

In the limited-edition cabriolet, all of the interior decorative elements, which would normally be made of wood, are covered with brown leather, quilted in parts. The anthracite-coloured multi-functional steering wheel is covered with finely perforated leather. To avoid disruptive reflections in the windscreen, the upper section of the instrument panel is also dark in colour. The lower section repeats the shade of the exterior, creating an interesting contrast.

To keep reflections to a minimum, Giorgio Armani decided not to use shiny chrome inside the vehicle. Instead, all of the metal trim has a high-quality, matt "aged" look.

The 'Mercedes-Benz CLK designo by Giorgio Armani' is based on the CLK 500 Cabriolet, which provides open-air driving pleasure and unsurpassed comfort for up to four passengers.

The car's V8 engine generates 225 kW/306 hp and accelerates the cabriolet from 0 to 100 km/h in 6.2 seconds. The finely tuned chassis meanwhile ensures that the vehicle is highly agile and dynamic. A high level of occupant safety is provided by a high-strength body structure, automatic rollover protection, head/thorax side airbags as standard equipment, sidebags in the rear, adaptive airbags for the driver and front passenger, seat-belt tensioners at all seats and a sensor-controlled rollover bar.

In addition, the body of the special Giorgio Armani-inspired CLK-Class Cabriolet was further upgraded through the use of certain AMG styling features, such as dynamic front and rear aprons and distinctive side skirts.

In line with its high standards, the Armani-style CLK Cabriolet also leaves almost no wish unfilled with regard to equipment. Standard equipment therefore includes the THERMOTRONIC climate control system with sun sensor, a stereo radio with Europe-wide navigation and surround sound from ten speakers and 8 x 40 Watt amplifiers, seat heating, headlamp assist, PARKTRONIC, a rain sensor for the windscreen wipers, and TEMPOMAT with SPEEDTRONIC.

Following the unveiling of the 'CLK designo by Giorgio Armani' at the press days of the Paris Motor Show, Mercedes-Benz will be exhibiting the vehicle in the Mercedes showroom on the Champs Elysées in Paris (25 September to 10 October 2004). Deliveries of the exclusive automobile will start in Q2, 2005.

The 'Mercedes-Benz CLK designo by Giorgio Armani' will be priced at EU€86,884 ex works.

About the Author
Mike Hanlon After Editing or Managing over 50 print publications primarily in the role of a Magazine Doctor, Mike embraced the internet full-time in 1995 and became a "start-up all-rounder" – quite a few start-ups later, he founded Gizmag in 2002. Now he can write again.   All articles by Mike Hanlon
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