Debut appearance of compact SUV and the new-generation SLK: Mercedes-Benz celebrates a double world premiere in Detroit
Detroit – The Vision GLK FREESIDE and Vision GLK TOWNSIDE are two breeds of the same vehicle which are set to take the SUV world by storm. Both of these studies are celebrating their world premiere at the 2008 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Whereas the Vision GLK FREESIDE is an all-rounder that showcases the capabilities of today's SUV vehicles both on and off the road, the TOWNSIDE version is designed to make its mark with dynamic performance on the tarmac.
By presenting two such different profiles, Mercedes-Benz is seeking to demonstrate the tremendous potential of the compact SUV study. The new generation of the SLK is likewise making its debut in
Detroit. It is now yet more dynamic, and offers a brand of emotion-charged driving pleasure that is more intense than ever. Key visual changes include the restyled front and rear, as well as the meticulously modified interior. The two-seater's decidedly dynamic character is brought out to particularly good effect by the 224-kW/305-hp V6 sports engine with high-revving concept that features in the SLK 350, as well as by the optional direct-steer system. Despite the fact that their output has been increased, in some cases substantially so, all of the engines make far more restrained use of the fuel, meaning that their CO2 emissions have been cut once again. Also going on show for the first time in the US are two innovative new models with groundbreaking drive technologies that are designed to guarantee a clean and economical future for premium-class motoring – the S 300 BLUETEC HYBRID with a compact hybrid module, as well as the ML 450 HYBRID with petrol engine and innovative two-mode hybrid system for purely electrical operation. The Stuttgart-based automotive group is thereby progressing exactly as planned with its "Road to the Future" strategy.
The Vision GLK FREESIDE and Vision GLK TOWNSIDE provide a stylistic preview of a future compact SUV model bursting with character. What makes them just so fascinating is the way they fuse different design worlds. The two studies incorporate elements taken from the original angular design of the G-Class, whilst at the same time impressing with design features typical of today's Mercedes-Benz passenger cars. Both stem from the same gene pool, yet each distinguishes itself with a personality all of its own. These two automotive characters are receiving their baptism of fire at the NAIAS in Detroit. In the words of Dr. Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG: "The Vision GLK FREESIDE and TOWNSIDE reveal new possibilities for the logical progression of our extremely successful model strategy in the SUV segment."
The FREESIDE and TOWNSIDE take trademark SUV characteristics, such as solidity and off-road capability, and unite them with refined motoring culture on "regular" roads. In both cases, the AGILITY CONTROL suspension promises exceptional driving dynamics and agility, coupled with exemplary ride comfort plus pioneering standards of active safety. The GLK FREESIDE version brings the off-road abilities more to the fore with its special detachable body parts and rugged underride guard, while the Vision GLK TOWNSIDE with sports suspension unleashes its strengths in tarmac terrain. Forming the backbone of both variants is a highly robust bodyshell that forms a solid basis for a number of other key characteristics too: handling stability as well as vibration and acoustic comfort, which are equally as impressive under all driving conditions, plus passive safety, which is up to the brand's usual impeccably high standard.
Responsive performance is guaranteed in both model versions regardless of the conditions thanks to the latest generation of economical and eco-friendly BLUETEC four-cylinder drive units under the bonnet, which operate in unison with the 7G‑TRONIC seven-speed automatic transmission and the new 4MATIC all-wheel drive. The compact-sized concept models also feature a number of technical highlights which are normally the preserve of the more exclusive vehicle categories. Quite apart from the PRE-SAFE anticipatory safety concept and the ILS Intelligent Light System, these include the COMAND APS infotainment centre with its intuitive operating concept, a rear-seat entertainment system including two screens, plus THERMOTRONIC 3-zone automatic climate control.
The interiors of the two studies match the expressive design of the exterior, and present an enticing mix of high-grade materials plus an ergonomically coherent overall concept. Both instantly convey that characteristic Mercedes feel of wellbeing, but interpret it in two completely different styles. The Vision GLK FREESIDE immerses its occupants in an ambience of luxury and comfort, with white leather appointments and wood trim elements in a matt finish. The light aquamarine leather upholstery and brushed aluminium trim elements in the interior of the TOWNSIDE, on the other hand, set a more sporty tone.
New generation of the SLK for intense motoring pleasure
The latest generation of the SLK blazes a trail of new sporty highlights, and bestows yet greater appeal on this thriving two-seater sports car with the trendsetting vario-roof that transforms it from roadster to weatherproof coupé in
a matter of seconds.
The designers have honed the looks of the cult two-seater for added sportiness. Especially eye-catching is the restyled front bumper featuring modified segmentation of the air intakes and a more pronounced V-shape, while the area around the Mercedes star now stands out more boldly. The designers have also remodelled the vehicle's tail, with the diffusor-look styling at the bottom giving the Roadster an even more powerful appearance from the rear too.
Many of the interior's details have also undergone remodelling, and the interior has been refined as a whole by meticulous material selection. Particular care was taken to optimise the interior in such a way as to make it that much more driver-focused again. The focal point in this respect is formed by a new
three-spoke sports steering wheel with multifunction controls, as well as a new instrument cluster with intriguing-looking bezels.
For the first time, Mercedes-Benz is equipping the SLK with the new NTG 2.5 generation of audio and telematics componentry. This boasts improved user friendliness together with even more handy functions. All audio systems come complete with a built-in hands-free facility with Bluetooth technology, plus a new media interface in the glove compartment, which enables mobile audio devices such as the iPod to be fully integrated into the audio system and operated from its control panel.
The switch to the new telematics generation now sees Mercedes-Benz offering the optimised LINGUATRONIC voice control system, renowned for its outstanding operation, as an option for the SLK-Class for the first time.
Customers who wish to enjoy the ultimate acoustic experience, whether driving with the vario-roof up or down, can opt for the harman kardon® Logic7® sound system. Here, the passenger compartment is filled by a rich surround sound, delivering crystal-clear listening pleasure of unprecedented quality for a roadster.
High-revving sports engine: added power and considerably lower consumption
Making a mighty contribution to the sporty billing of the 2008 generation of the SLK are three reengineered drive units which all stand out by virtue of their lower fuel consumption, resulting in reduced CO2 emissions. Both the four-cylinder engine in the SLK 200 Kompressor and the six-cylinder sports engine in the SLK 350 benefit from a substantial increase in output and torque. Only the familiar eight-cylinder powerplant in the SLK 55 AMG remains unchanged, despite which it has lost absolutely none of its thrill and continues to be a unique selling point in the SLK segment.
The Mercedes-Benz engineers devoted particular attention to the V6 sports engine with high-revving concept, which is making its debut in the new-generation SLK. By performing a major overhaul of the engine's mechanics, the engineers succeeded in giving the V6 unit a completely new lease of life. From an unaltered displacement of 3498 cubic centimetres it now musters 224 kW/305 hp at 6500 rpm, a whole 24 kW (33 hp) more than in the engine it replaces. Torque has been upped too (+ 10 Nm) and now peaks at 360 Nm at 4900 rpm.
This has been achieved by raising the rev speed limit to 7200 rpm, at the same time as increasing the compression ratio, fitting a new intake manifold and making extensive modifications to the valve gear.
The new engine also strikes a far more emotive-sounding note after being deliberately tuned to deliver resonant sports engine acoustics, with overrun mode producing a particularly emotion-stirring sound. When partnered by the 7G‑TRONIC automatic transmission, the engine management furthermore blips the throttle automatically during downshifts – not only does this create a very sporty soundtrack, it helps to limit load-alteration effects too.
Yet despite its higher power output and such high-calibre performance, fuel consumption in the SLK 350 has been cut by a sizeable margin. In conjunction with the six-speed manual transmission, it now burns just 9.5 litres of fuel per 100 km on the combined cycle, meaning that consumption has been reduced by a remarkable 1.1 litres per 100 km. When coupled to the 7G-TRONIC automatic transmission, the sports engine limits itself to a mere 9.2 litres for every 100 km on the combined cycle, 0.9 litres less than previously. The cut in fuel consumption lowers CO2 emissions by 23 g/km to 219 g/km on the automatic model (manual transmission: 227 g/km, a reduction of 28 g/km).
Choice of three further engines
Following the facelift, the engine line-up for the second generation of the successful SLK-Class will comprise three further variants:
  • The four-cylinder supercharged engine delivers an extra 15 kW/21 hp of output (135 kW/184 hp), with torque increasing from 240 to 250 Newtonmetres. Combined fuel consumption has dropped by 1.0 litre to 7.7 l/100 km. This in turn reduces CO2 emissions by 27 g /km to 182 g/km.
  • The SLK 280 has likewise been optimised for lower fuel consumption, and therefore CO2 emissions. Fuel consumption has dropped by 0.4 litres to 9.3 l/100 km (automatic: -0.2 l to 9.1 l/100 km) and CO2 emissions by 11 g to 220 g/km (automatic: -6 g to 216 g/km)
  • At work under the bonnet of the SLK 55 AMG is the familiar 5.5-litre V8 powerplant delivering 265 kW/360 hp and 510 Nm of torque.
The three new models in the SLK range all come with a precision six-speed manual gearshift. The SLK 55 AMG retains the 7G-TRONIC Sport seven-speed automatic transmission. The SLK 200 can be specified with an optional five-speed automatic, while the two V6 models – the SLK 280 and SLK 350 sports engine – offer the option of the 7G‑TRONIC automatic transmission, or alternatively the 7G-TRONIC Sport with shift paddles on the steering wheel.
New direct-steer system for immense agility and tangible fun at the wheel
A newly developed direct-steer system with variable power assistance that elicits the very best from the suspension's sporty capabilities is optionally available (standard on SLK AMG 55). It combines agility and manoeuvrability on twisting country roads with low steering forces when parking and sure steering characteristics at high speeds.
The direct-steer system is derived from the previous speed-sensitive power steering and operates purely mechanically. This dispenses with the need for sophisticated actuator units and complex sensors, which interfere with the direct flow of power between wheel and hand and therefore have a detrimental effect on steering precision. At the heart of the system is a new rack with ingeniously devised toothing, that is designed to alter the steering gear ratio as the steering angle changes. Around the central position, the steering has an indirect ratio for good straight-line stability, resulting in excellent safety at high speeds. As soon as the steering wheel is turned to an angle of 5 degrees, the ratio increases rapidly and the steering feels far more direct. In this way, the number of steering wheel turns from lock to lock is reduced by around 25 per cent with the new direct-steer system. Consequently, relatively small turns of the steering wheel are sufficient for changing course when driving in city traffic. Meanwhile, high-speed twisty sections of country roads can be negotiated safely, precisely and with enormous pleasure using relatively small steering movements, all in almost intuitive fashion.
Road to the Future: S 300 BLUETEC HYBRID and ML 450 HYBRID
Fuel-efficient and eco-friendly premium cars without any loss of safety, comfort and effortless motoring pleasure: that is the ultimate aim of the long-term development plan, which Mercedes-Benz has set in stone in its "Road to the Future" sustainability strategy. The focal points of development include modular drive technologies, consisting primarily of optimised internal combustion engines accompanied by individually customised hybrid solutions, with the two power sources being deployed either individually or in unison, depending on the vehicle category, operating profile and the customer's wishes.
At Detroit 2008, Mercedes-Benz is exhibiting two especially economical and environmentally friendly models for the future. The S 300 BLUETEC HYBRID takes the same BLUETEC diesel emission control technology for the world's cleanest combustion engines that was launched in the US back in 2006, and combines it with a compact hybrid module. The ML 450 HYBRID with V6 petrol engine, meanwhile, features a cutting-edge two-mode hybrid system that permits purely electrical operation. The Stuttgart-based automotive group is thereby progressing exactly as planned with its "Road to the Future" strategy, which only got underway in autumn 2007 with a unique pageant of ultra-economical and eco-friendly models at the Frankfurt Motor Show.
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