Mercedes injects some automotive style into the humble golf cart
Back in 2013, Mercedes showed the world what a three-pointed star-badged golf cart of the future might look like with the Vision Golf Cart. Well, the (near) future is here and Mercedes has teamed up with Scandinavian "golf car" manufacturer Garia to make the Mercedes golf cart a reality. The new cart isn't much like the Vision, but it has been given a modern makeover, with features like a touchscreen infotainment system, built-in refrigerator and carbon fiber construction.
Golf is a glamorous pastime enjoyed by some of the world's richest and most powerful men and women, but the typical golf cart looks like an overgrown child's toy. While there certainly are nicer golf carts out there, Mercedes is answering the call for a more luxurious, modern design.
As the company puts it: "While golf has developed into a premium sport with a modern face, golf carts have remained almost unchanged for decades."
Mercedes-Benz Style, the lifestyle design division responsible for collaborative projects like the Arrow460-Granturismo yacht and luxury plane cabin, came up with its idea of a better golf cart and worked with Garia to build it out.
After a quick glance, the Mercedes-Benz Style Edition Garia Golf Car – not to be confused with those other German Golf cars – looks like it could be the latest Smart car concept because of its diminutive size, short overhangs, LED headlamps and grille design. But the open cockpit and golf clubs hanging off the back give it away as a golf cart – and that grille isn't actually pierced all the way through, but dimpled like a golf ball.
While it's not quite as sleek and stylish as the buggy-like Vision Golf Cart, the automotive-inspired Golf Car definitely brings some style to a segment dominated by boxy, bare-frame carts. A curved windshield is sandwiched between the car-like face and contrast-color carbon fiber roof. The shaping and dimensions are designed to give the car a low, sporty presence ... or as low and sporty a presence as a golf cart can have. Adding to the sportiness is a spoiler that serves as a golf bag holder, positioning two bags at an angle to allow for easy club access. There's even a carbon fiber rear diffuser for extra flair.
The Mercedes Golf Car also has all the equipment it needs to drive on the road where allowed, including turn signals and working headlights and taillights. It measures 92.5 x 47.2 x 67.7 in (235 x 120 x 172 cm, L x W x H) and has a turning radius of 17 ft (5.2 m). A front skid plate provides some protection underneath.
Mercedes has stuck with the traditional bench seat, as opposed to the bucket seats used on the Vision Golf Cart, but has strived to create a more inviting, comfortable lounge-style seat. Below that seat, a built-in refrigerator keeps drinks cold and, once opened, those drinks won't have trouble finding a home thanks to the cupholders on the dashboard and passenger side. There's also a storage tray for holding golf balls.
The Golf Car really takes a step into present-day automotive design in the user interface department. The high-resolution 10.1-in touchscreen is divided into two halves; the upper half is dedicated to displaying information such as speed and remaining range as well as control of functions like drive mode (yep, there's "eco" and "sport' modes), headlights and windshield wipers, while the lower half of the screen is for golf information, such as course layout with cart position and digital scorecard. There are also a few apps, including a weather app for tracking what's going on above.
The Golf Car includes an audio system with Bluetooth connection and frame-mounted speakers for smartphone-based music listening. Mercedes also mentions the possibility of adding a more robust set of smartphone-connected features through the onboard infotainment system.
Completing the "Mercedes" look and feel is a premium materials suite that includes leather, wood, carbon fiber and metallic trim. These are blended with a focus on hard-soft contrast. There is also plenty of Mercedes-Benz Style and Garia branding around the interior and exterior.
In terms of power, the Golf Car relies on a motor with up to 3 kW (4 hp) of regular output and short bursts up to 11 kW (15 hp) with the governed top speed coming in at 19 mph (31 km/h). The lithium-ion battery provides up to 50 miles (80 km) of range and charges in about six hours. Other mechanical equipment includes front disc brakes and double-wishbone suspension. The car weighs 970 lb (440 kg) and has a payload of 1,014 lb (460 kg).
Mercedes calls the Golf Car a show car, but it seems prepared to make it more than a design exercise. It says that Garia will be building two working examples to start, and it sounds like there'll be more to come if the reaction is right. Mercedes will rely on a largely digital retail model if it does go through with production.
"The vehicle can be experienced absolutely virtually," says Susanne Hahn, head of Daimler Business Innovation. "This means that wherever customers are in a dealership or on a golf course they can look at the vehicle on a tablet and order it with three clicks."
To get started gauging reaction, Mercedes will be bringing the Golf Car on a tour of select events, including The Open Championship (UK), which is now underway, and the Monaco Yacht Show.