The new SLK 55 AMG: Top marks in all disciplines
Nov 18, 2011
Bodyshell and safety: Exemplary protection Mercedes-style
  • Vario-roof opens and closes in under 20 seconds
  • Optional panoramic vario-roof with MAGIC SKY CONTROL
  • New headbag and crash-responsive head restraints
  • ATTENTION ASSIST and active bonnet as standard
  • DISTRONIC PLUS and PRE-SAFE® Brake available as optional extras
In 1996, precisely 15 years ago, Mercedes-Benz presented the first generation of the SLK, which amazed automotive experts with its exceptional vario-roof. To this day, the Stuttgart-based automotive manufacturer has remained true to this technology which provides unrivalled levels of convenience and safety for motorists. The standard vario-roof on the current SLK 55 AMG opens and closes in less than 20 seconds, transforming the open-top roadster into a closed-top coupé with rigid roof at the touch of a button.
Alternatively, a panoramic vario-roof in tinted polycarbonate can also be chosen. The third variant is a world premiere – the panoramic vario-roof with MAGIC SKY CONTROL. This glass roof switches to light or dark as required at the press of a button. When light it is virtually transparent, offering an open-air experience even in cold weather. In its dark state the roof provides welcome shade and prevents the interior from heating up when the sun’s rays are very intense. In other words: a feel-good atmosphere at the touch of a button.
The frames of the three roof variants are made of magnesium. This makes each roof around six kilograms lighter than in the previous model, giving the car a lower centre of gravity – which benefits its agility. As an optional extra, a convenience opening feature is also available for the vario-roof: all it takes is a press of a button on the vehicle key to open the roof conveniently from outside the vehicle. The luggage compartment capacity with the vario-roof closed is 335 litres. When the roof is opened, the capacity is reduced by 110 to 225 litres.
Leading position thanks to Real Life Safety philosophy
The SLK 55 AMG also enjoys a leading position when it comes to active and passive safety too. As is usual at Mercedes-Benz, its safety concept is based on real-life accident research – Real Life Safety is the philosophy developed by the Mercedes safety experts. It forms the solid basis on which the engineers have developed or implemented most of the modern assistance systems which today not only effectively support drivers, but have also been adopted by a great number of competitors.
These include the drowsiness detection system ATTENTION ASSIST, for example. Thanks to this system, the roadster develops a precise feeling for the level of attentiveness of the driver and can provide an early warning of overtiredness. Also forming part of the standard equipment are crash-responsive head restraints. They improve occupant protection and as such help to reduce the risk of whiplash. In the event of a rear impact, the head restraints can be pushed around 40 mm forwards and 30 mm upwards, thus supporting the heads of the vehicle occupants earlier.
DISTRONIC PLUS and PRE-SAFE® Brake enhance safety
Available as optional extras are the DISTRONIC PLUS proximity control as well as PRE-SAFE® Brake, already tried and tested in other Mercedes-Benz models. Both systems work in conjunction and can initiate emergency braking automatically on detecting an acute risk of an accident.
In normal driving conditions, the radar-based DISTRONIC PLUS proximity control automatically adjusts the distance to the vehicle in front. If necessary, it can apply the brakes, even bringing the SLK 55 AMG roadster to a stop, and accelerate it again. This takes some of the strain off the driver, particularly in bumper-to-bumper driving conditions. If the distance starts to narrow too quickly, the system gives the driver visual and audible warnings, thereby prompting the driver to take action, at which point he is also supported by Brake Assist PLUS. If the systems detect the acute danger of a rear-end collision and the driver fails to respond to visual and acoustic warnings, the electronics activate PRE-SAFE® Brake in preparation for autonomous braking. This happens in two stages:
  • Around 1.6 seconds before the calculated impact point the system decelerates the car with around 40 percent (approx. four m/s²) of the maximum braking power, gives the driver an additional, haptic warning of the impending impact and as a precaution activates the reversible PRE-SAFE® occupant protection system.
  • If the driver still fails to react, the PRE-SAFE® Brake activates the maximum braking power around 0.6 seconds before the now unavoidable collision - this emergency braking can greatly reduce the severity of the impact. The system therefore acts like an "electronic crumple zone", offering the car occupants even greater protection.
The PRE-SAFE® Brake is active at speeds of between 30 and 200 km/h when moving vehicles are detected in front of the car. The system also reacts if the car approaches a stationary queue of traffic, providing its speed is below 70 km/h.
Even more safety and comfort available as an option
Those wishing to do so can extend the range of assistance systems in the new SLK even further with the addition of features enhancing both safety and comfort:
  • The Intelligent Light System provides five lighting functions (cornering light function, country mode, motorway mode, active light function and enhanced fog lamps), which are activated depending on the driving conditions
  • Speed Limit Assist is able to detect speed limit signs using a camera on the inside of the windscreen, and indicate the detected speed limit in the instrument cluster or central display.
  • The optional PARKTRONIC incl. Parking Guidance supports the driver when parking. Its ultrasonic sensors measure the length of parking spaces as the car drives past; the cockpit display then provides a schematic representation of the recommended parking manoeuvre.
Only available from Mercedes-Benz – the anticipatory occupant protection system PRE-SAFE®
An additional safety highlight available in the new SLK 55 AMG is the anticipatory occupant protection system PRE-SAFE®, a system developed by Mercedes-Benz which is unique throughout the world. If the system detects an acute risk of an accident, it reflexively activates precautionary protective measures for the vehicle occupants, so that the seat belts and airbags are able to fulfil their protective function to the full during an impact. Mercedes-Benz developed PRE-SAFE® on the basis of research into actual accidents, and is the only manufacturer in the world to offer such a system. This highly effective system has so far not been taken into account when producing ratings, however.
Additional post-crash measures supplement the PRE-SAFE® system to enable prompt assistance after an accident has occurred: depending on the damage, the interior lighting can be switched on automatically, the side windows can be opened by 50 mm to provide better ventilation in the interior, and in vehicles with the Memory package the steering wheel can be moved upwards.
Taking into account all of the requirements of the rating institutes
In developing the SLK, the requirements of Euro NCAP as well as all global consumer ratings were also taken into account. Forming the basis for this is the vehicle's body structure, which follows tried-and-tested concepts and has also been enhanced in a number of details. These include strengthened supports, a new structure for side impacts and a new fibre-reinforced roll-over bar. In the event of an accident, up-front sensors and lateral satellite and roll-over sensors help the central control unit to predict the nature and severity of the accident. New, additional pressure sensors in the doors as well as acceleration sensors in the front bumper help in detecting an impact with a pedestrian.
The restraint systems with two-stage driver and front passenger airbags have also been enhanced. A new feature is the headbag, which provides generous lateral protection for the head impact area. An additional thorax airbag in the seat backrest protects the upper body in the event of a side impact. The seat belts, with belt buckle tensioners and speed-sensitive belt force limiters, serve to highlight the high safety standards of Mercedes-Benz. Automatic child seat recognition also comes as standard.
Pedestrian protection courtesy of the active bonnet
The SLK uses the latest technology in the area of pedestrian protection too. A sensor system is able to register an impact with a pedestrian and can ensure that the active bonnet is immediately raised by 85 mm. This creates additional space between the bonnet and the components in the engine compartment. This in turn results in comparatively lower acceleration values for the head of the pedestrian during the impact, thus reducing the overall risk of injury.
As a result, the new SLK 55 AMG provides its occupants not only with a superior level of safety in all areas - something which is unique in this segment – but also enhanced safety for other road users too.
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