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Mercedes-Benz at NAIAS 2008

Mercedes-Benz celebrates a double world premiere in Detroit: Debut appearance of entry luxury SUV and the new-generation SLK

Detroit – The Vision GLK FREESIDE and Vision GLK TOWNSIDE represent two expressions 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 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.

2009 Mercedes-Benz Vision GLK Freeside

2009 Mercedes-Benz Vision GLK Freeside

By presenting two such different profiles, Mercedes-Benz is seeking to demonstrate the tremendous potential of the mid-size SUV study. The new generation of the SLK is also making its debut in Detroit. It is now even more dynamic, and offers a brand of emotionally-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 high-revving 300-hp V6 sports engine featured in the SLK 350, as well as by the direct-steer system.

Despite the fact that their output has been increased, in some cases substantially so, all of the engines make far more economical use of the fuel, meaning that their CO2 emissions have been cut once again.

Also going on show for the first time in the U.S. 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 gasoline 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 midsize SUV model bursting with character. The two studies incorporate elements taken from the family of Mercedes-Benz SUV’s, however it clearly has its own unique styling. 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 represent a perfect balance of aggressive styling, versatility and performance. In both cases, the AGILITY CONTROL suspension promises exceptional driving dynamics and agility, coupled with exemplary ride comfort and pioneering standards of active safety. The GLK FREESIDE version emphasizes its off-road abilities with its special detachable body parts and rugged underride guard, while the Vision GLK TOWNSIDE with sports suspension unleashes its strengths on the blacktop. Both concept vehicles feature a highly robust bodyshell which ensures superior driving dynamics, rigidity and occupant safety.

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, which operate in unison with the 7G‑TRONIC seven-speed automatic transmission and the new 4MATIC all-wheel drive system. The two concept models also feature a number of technical highlights normally reserved for 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 system 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 and ergonomically coherent overall concept. Both instantly convey that characteristic Mercedes feel of security, 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 satin 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 driving pleasure

The latest generation of the SLK blazes a trail of new sporty highlights, and bestows yet greater appeal on this two-seater sports car with its trendsetting vario-roof, that transforms it from roadster to weatherproof coupé in a matter of seconds.

The designers have honed the looks of the 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 is further emphasized. The designers have also redesigned the vehicle's rear section, with the diffuser-look styling giving the roadster an even more powerful appearance from behind.

Many of the interior's details have also been revised, and the interior has been refined as a whole by meticulous material selection. Particular care was taken to optimize the interior to make it that much more driver-focused. 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 redesigned 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 convenient functions. All audio systems come complete with built-in hands-free capability with Bluetooth technology. Also available is a new optional 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 optimized LINGUATRONIC voice control system, renowned for its outstanding operation, as an option in 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 strong contribution to the sporty billing of the 2008 generation of the SLK are reengineered drive units which stand out by virtue of their lower fuel consumption and reduced CO2 emissions. Most notably, the six-cylinder engine in the SLK 350 benefits from a substantial increase in output and torque. Only the SLK 55 AMG retains its familiar engine – an eight-cylinder unit that has lost none of its mesmerising performance capability and remains a unique selling point in the SLK segment.

The Mercedes-Benz engineers devoted particular attention to the high-revving V6 sports engine, 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 sporty new character. From an unaltered displacement of 3498 cubic centimetres it now musters 300 hp at 6500 rpm, a whole 32 hp more than the engine it replaces. Torque has also been increased (+ 7 lb-ft) and now peaks at 265 lb-ft at 4900 rpm.

This has been achieved by raising the rev limiter to 7200 rpm, increasing the compression ratio, fitting a new intake manifold and making extensive modifications to the valvetrain.

The new engine also strikes a far more emotive-sounding note after being deliberately tuned to deliver resonant sports engine acoustics. When partnered with the 7G‑TRONIC automatic transmission, the engine management system blips the throttle automatically during downshifts – not only does this create a very sporty soundtrack, it helps to limit load-alteration effects too.

Other engines to choose from

The engine line-up for the second generation of the successful SLK-Class is being enhanced for the facelift:

· The SLK 300 has been optimized for lower fuel consumption, and therefore CO2 emissions. Its 3.0 liter V-6 produces 228 hp.

· At work under the hood of the SLK 55 AMG is the familiar 5.5-liter V8 powerplant delivering 355 hp and 376 lb-ft of torque.

Standard equipment for the SLK 300 includes a six-speed manual transmission, which provides fast, sporty gear changes coupled with supreme ease of shifting. The 7G‑TRONIC automatic transmission with seven speeds is optional on the SLK 300 and standard equipment on the SLK 350. The optional 7G‑TRONIC Sport automatic transmission, with shift paddles on the steering wheel and shorter shift times, delivers even more performance in these two models. The AMG Speedshift 7G-TRONIC, which has been specifically tuned by AMG, comes with aluminium shift paddles on the steering wheel in the SLK 55 AMG.

New direct-steer system for immense agility and tangible fun at the wheel

A new direct-steer system with variable power assistance that elicits the very best from the suspension's sporty capabilities has been developed. The system provides agility and maneuverability when driving on twisting rural roads, steering comfort when parking and assured steering characteristics when traveling at high speed.

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 gearing, 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 percent 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.

The 2009 MY SLK models will make their U.S. showroom debut in April 2008.

Road to the Future: S 300 BLUETEC HYBRID and ML 450 HYBRID

Fuel-efficient and eco-friendly premium cars without any compromise of safety, comfort and effortless driving 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 optimized internal combustion engines accompanied by individually customized 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 U.S. back in 2006, and combines it with a compact hybrid module. The ML 450 HYBRID with a V6 gasoline 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 began in autumn 2007 with a presentation of ultra-economical and eco-friendly models at the Frankfurt Motor Show.

Source: Mercedes-Benz

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