|The first NEOPLAN Cityliner N 516 was unveiled half a century ago. With its raised floor and characteristically shaped front, it proved to be the forerunner of today’s high-decker coach segment. To mark the vehicle’s anniversary, the premium brand has produced a special edition based on the legendary original.|
A true evergreen of the coach segment has turned 50! And it’s no less than the NEOPLAN Cityliner, which was first unveiled at the legendary 1971 coach show in Monaco. The latest generation of this is based on the iconic NEOPLAN Starliner and its unmistakeable ‘sharp cut’ design, which was released in 2006.
Originally developed in their famously innovative manner by the constructers and manufacturers GottlobAuwärter & Co. KG in Stuttgart-Möhringen, as a new coach concept offering the best possible views from elevated seating, the new model quickly established itself as a trendsetter for the coaches that are the standard for long-distance travel to this day. Its characteristics: a particularly high construction and floor, thus providing especially plentiful space for luggage between the axles, a low-lying driver’s seat with a visually divided upper windscreen angled backwards in an extremely aerodynamic way.
Combined with forward-slanting window frames, this unmistakeable design concept became the distinguishing feature of the brand that represented innovation and progress like no other coach brand, then as now. As such, the NEOPLAN Cityliner has been setting the standard for the past 50 years as one of the few coaches that is instantly recognisable, even to passengers without specialist know-how.
This was all the more so for the legendary ‘platinum’ jubilee edition of 1996, which was made in a strictly limited number of 60 vehicles in honour of the company’s 60th anniversary. On the outside, it impressed primarily thanks to the eye-catching 900 mm high stainless steel planking reminiscent of that of the first Cityliner. But it also had technological tricks up its sleeve. In addition to one of the first Philips GPS satellite navigation systems, which pinpointed the vehicle’s location ‘to the metre’ and displayed this on two 18-inch screens, it was mainly the laser-guided proximity warning and control system that caused a stir. About ten times a second, the so-called ‘contralaser’ scanned a security area about 150 metres in front of the coach, adjusting the cruise control and retarder accordingly if it detected an obstacle, just like today’s Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC). This was supplemented by pioneering safety equipment including ultrasound rear parking sensors, standard-issue lap belts (which were only required by law in 2000) and many interior design features. The twin-axle vehicle was powered by then already ultramodern MAN or Scania engines. Average fuel consumption of about 25 litres of diesel per 100 km (approx. 9.4 MPG) was also anything but shabby.
In 2006, NEOPLAN – now a premium coach brand within the internationally operating MAN Group – relaunched the evergreen on the basis of the Starliner’s iconic design. Available in three lengths, the Cityliner soon established itself as a popular coach throughout Europe, offering unique quality. In the 20 years since NEOPLAN has been a part of the MAN Group, almost 3,000 coaches have been built at production sites in Stuttgart, Pilsting, Plauen and now also in Ankara. The model has thus become one of the pillars of the NEOPLAN product portfolio, all while retaining the familiar features of the dynamic design of its front, its particularly large luggage compartments and a top-rate chassis that makes it only the second coach ever to be fitted with electronic shock absorbers (Comfort Drive Suspension, CDS). The powerful, yet efficient drive mechanism is supplied by the latest Cityliner generation of modern six-cylinder Euro 6 engines, neatly combined with an automatic 12-gear MAN TipMatic transmission or, most recently, a ZF six-speed automatic gearbox.
To celebrate the 50th anniversary of this successful model, NEOPLAN has reinvented its ‘platinum version’, this time without limiting the production number, and available in all three lengths (Cityliner, C and L). From the outside, the discreet platinum-painted sides, front and back as well as the original ‘platinum’ logotypes and other chrome-coloured elements are reminiscent of its legendary predecessor. The horizontal connection between the A and B pillar is still painted in black, thus focussing attention on the striking design of the nose. This is underlined by the B pillar, which is shaped like a tapering fin, as well as the silver edging of the upper windscreen. Further areas offset in black, such as the rear diffusor and the edging of the number plates, optimally match the new ‘angel eyes’ headlights and the painted rockers below the headlamps. By way of an extra ‘wow effect’, the new ‘special platinum edition’ comes equipped with dynamic new hubcaps for the very first time whose unusual spin alone identifies the Cityliner as “the racing car among coaches” – even when parked.
The inside features a coordinated colour and trim concept, also available on request with new Exclussivo-series seats with optional headrests, a USB or wireless charging function for smartphones and other luxury options. Other design elements from the NEOPLAN individual equipment range are likewise available.
Just as it was back in 1996, safety is a high priority: The coach includes the OptiView mirror replacement system which can also be supplemented with a 360° birds-eye view or an active warning turning assistance system. The elegant housings of the OptiView’s cameras fit seamlessly into the design, snugly hugging the A pillar as two-tone “winglets.” Thanks to the forebody’s characteristically aerodynamic properties, with its split windscreen, removing the protruding side mirrors significantly improves the Cw value from 0.34 to 0.31, further increasing the vehicle’s efficiency. The radar-steered Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) also does credit to its predecessor from 1971, now even featuring a new stop-and-go function until standstill, which can be a major relief to drivers, especially in heavy traffic. As such, the new ‘platinum special edition’ NEOPLAN Cityliner is one of the safest and most comfortable coaches in half a century.