Mercedes-Benz - Vision GLK Freeside
Stuttgart / Detroit. GLK – a combination of letters that has specific connotations. The “G” alludes to the archetypal cross-country vehicle, the “L” intimates luxury and, as in other Mercedes model series, the “K” stands for compactness (German: Kompaktheit). At first sight these three aspects may appear to be mutually incompatible. But on closer inspection they offer the perfect combination as Mercedes-Benz takes its SUV expertise and launches it in a whole new dimension – in the exciting Vision GLK FREESIDE. In January 2008 this compact character will be making its world debut at the Detroit Auto Show, providing a vision of the shape of SUVs to come.
The Vision GLK FREESIDE study, now close to series production, has a distinctive design and combines typical SUV characteristics such as robustness and off-road capability with refined motoring characteristics on “normal” roads. The AGILITY CONTROL suspension ensures excellent handling dynamics and agility, coupled with excellent ride comfort and pioneering active safety. A high-strength bodyshell forms the backbone of this model and also ensures other key characteristics: the driving stability and virtual absence of vibration and noise, whatever the conditions, are compelling, and the passive safety, as you expect from the brand, is of the highest standard.
The economical and environmentally friendly new-generation BLUETEC four-cylinder engine, combined with the 7G-TRONIC seven-speed automatic transmission and the new 4MATIC all-wheel drive, ensures highly appealing performance. The compact concept vehicle, measuring 4.52 metres in length, also boasts technology usually reserved for higher vehicle classes. Features not only include the anticipatory PRE-SAFE® safety concept and the Intelligent Light System (ILS), but also the intuitively controlled COMAND APS infotainment centre, a rear-seat entertainment system with two screens and THERMOTRONIC 3-zone automatic climate control.
Extremely attractive in stylistic terms, this vision of a future compact SUV, a vehicle packed with character, succeeds by combining the angular design of the original G-Class with typical design features from the contemporary Mercedes-Benz passenger car range. The interior of the Vision GLK FREESIDE complements the expressive body design and impresses with high-quality materials and an ergonomically coherent overall concept, instantly conveying that typical Mercedes ambience.
The Vision GLK FREESIDE is to undergo its first test of character at the NAIAS in Detroit. “The Vision GLK illustrates the logical way in which our extremely successful model strategy can be continued in the SUV segment,” commented Dr Dieter Zetsche, CEO of Daimler AG. Dr Zetsche has a very close connection with the compact and distinctive Vision GLK FREESIDE, based on his time as a vehicle developer back in the mid-1980s. One of Dr Zetsche’s areas of responsibility at that time was the development of the legendary G-Class. Looking back, he explained, “The needs profiles are different now. But there’s one thing that hasn’t changed: if a Mercedes has a G in its name, it has to perform exceptionally in all conditions.”
Vision GLK FREESIDE: expressive, distinctive, independent
Stylistic borrowings from the forefather of all Mercedes-Benz SUVs give the Vision GLK FREESIDE a special positioning. Head of design Prof. Peter Pfeiffer put it in a nutshell, “With the G-Class we created a styling icon which has been the benchmark for almost 30 years. Combining this unostentatious design with the latest Mercedes-Benz design elements makes the Vision GLK FREESIDE a vehicle of genuine character.”
Indeed, never before has there been such a distinctively expressive vision of tomorrow’s compact SUV. Bringing together the angular original design with the typical design features found in all contemporary Mercedes-Benz passenger cars creates a thrilling allure. Here the company’s unmistakable design idiom, with its interplay of taut lines and large, expansive surfaces, is combined with the typical body features of a functional off-road vehicle, such as short overhangs, an upright front end, slim roof pillars, a steeply raked windscreen and taut roof lines. Specially manufactured 20-inch light-alloy wheels and muscular wheel arches add an extra touch of power and charisma to the Vision GLK FREESIDE.
The vehicle’s body design is by no means an end in itself. It allows the typical advantages of an off-road vehicle to be introduced to the road-oriented, compact SUV class for the first time. Large angles of approach and departure plus good ground clearance make off-road ventures a joy. The outstandingly clear layout of the body and the good all-round visibility, combined with the raised seat position, increase the vehicle’s suitability for everyday on-road use and ensure relaxed driving even in dense city traffic.
The Vision GLK FREESIDE’s convincing design concept is reinforced by the special-effect “diamond white magno” paintwork. Unlike conventional metallic paintwork, a matt clearcoat protects the surface here. The detachable body parts, in gloss sterling silver, produce a charming contrast and give the study an even more exclusive look.
The interior: trend-setter in the compact premium segment
The distinctive looks of the exterior are seamlessly continued inside the SUV study. A thrilling stylistic contrast is produced by the juxtaposition of two formally different worlds. On the one hand the Vision GLK FREESIDE offers a high-quality and comfortable interior with impressive materials and precise detailing. On the other hand the contemporary treatment of the surfaces brings the latest in Mercedes design to the interior. The dashboard is the dominant element here, its wide, emphatically three-dimensional trim lending the generous interior an additional sense of width. The main focus is an elegant trim tier in matt, anthracite-coloured cebrano wood with white grain and a precision-tailored chrome trim strip. This element, with its rich contrasts, extends across the full width of the interior and divides the main body of the dashboard into three horizontal planes. The upper area is trimmed in black leather and encompasses the instrument cluster and the static COMAND APS central display. The lower area, like the tunnel and the footwells, echoes the colour scheme of the exterior paintwork. The seats and the lower part of the door trim are in specially coated white leather which, like the “diamond white magno” paintwork, has a matt gloss finish. Treating the natural leather in this way not only produces a stunning look but gives it a velvet soft, skin-friendly, easy-grip surface. Black piping adds to the interesting black-and-white contrasts. The driver’s armrest and the COMAND APS controller are placed in the optimum ergonomic position. Control of the individual menus is intuitive, following the highly familiar control logic used in the S-Class. Additional shortcut buttons make it easier to access the most important main functions.
The occupants are protected by a comprehensive safety concept, based on a high-strength passenger cell and energy-absorbing deformation zones at the front and rear. The protective programme includes front airbags, sidebags and windowbags, plus a kneebag for the driver and crash-responsive head restraints.
New BLUETEC four-cylinder powerplant with AdBlue injection
The Vision GLK FREESIDE is powered by a new-generation diesel engine. The four-cylinder unit, with a 2.2-litre displacement, reflects the study vehicle’s dynamic basic concept and allows impressive performance figures with an output of 125 kW/170 hp, plus reduced consumption and reduced emissions. The technical features of the extremely compact and smooth CDI powerplant with rear camshaft drive include fourth-generation common rail direct injection with an injection pressure of 2000 bar and a two-stage turbocharger system.
The modular BLUETEC emission control system has been enhanced by Mercedes-Benz and the most efficient version has been combined for the first time with a four-cylinder engine. "BLUETEC gives us a technology that makes it possible for us to combine the high efficiency and impressive torque of modern diesel engines with extremely low emissions – a perfect propulsion unit for a compact SUV like the GLK," declares Dr Thomas Weber, member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and responsible for corporate research and the development of Mercedes-Benz Cars. The focus of BLUETEC technology is on ensuring the greatest possible reduction in nitrogen oxide emissions. This is the only exhaust gas component that is intrinsically higher in diesel engines than in petrol engines. In addition to an oxidising catalytic converter and a maintenance-free particulate filter, an SCR catalytic converter is also used. AdBlue, a harmless, aqueous urea solution, is injected into the exhaust gas stream. This converts up to 80 percent of the nitrogen oxides into harmless nitrogen and water. Here the study highlights the way in which compact four-cylinder diesel models can also meet the most stringent emissions limits, even those specified by EU6, which will apply to all new vehicles from 2015. By then today’s EU4 nitrogen oxide limits will have to be reduced by around another 70 percent to 0.08 g/km. Even the strict US BIN 5 limits and the Californian LEV2 regulations would not present a problem for the Vision GLK FREESIDE.
Superior dynamic handling thanks to cutting-edge 4MATIC drivetrain
The new 4MATIC drivetrain in the Vision GLK FREESIDE is one of the most powerful all-wheel-drive systems. Thanks to the compact, lightweight and friction-optimised basic design, with a longitudinally installed engine and block-design main transmission and transfer case, it offers various advantages over other systems with a transversely installed drive unit. The fuel consumption, for example, is around the level of a comparable, conventionally powered vehicle. The minimal vibration and noise levels rival those of today’s luxury-class models.
The 45:55 percent basic distribution of the drive torque between the front and rear axle plus the ESP®, ASR and 4ETS dynamic handling control systems ensure effortlessly superior and predictable performance in all conditions. Optimum traction, the greatest driving stability and the best handling are assured at all times. The newly developed multiple-disc clutch in the central differential supports the system where the friction between the tyres and the road surface is particularly low, for example on snow or ice. A basic partial locking force of 50 newton metres between the front and rear axles produces a significant increase in traction, while maintaining the high level of driving stability.
The “G” button in the centre console increases the Vision GLK FREESIDE’s aggression when required on rough terrain. Pressing the button activates a special transmission mode which varies the 7G-TRONIC’s shift points, adjusts to “softer” accelerator characteristics and activates the ESP’s off-road function. A manual shift mode is also available – gears are changed using the shift paddles behind the steering wheel. A further switch activates the Downhill Speed Regulation (DSR), which automatically maintains a preselected speed on steep downhill inclines.
Pioneering chassis concept unites different worlds of driving
The Vision GLK FREESIDE’s AGILITY CONTROL suspension resolves a conflict of objectives which particularly affects the SUV class, where chassis engineers want to create a vehicle which is both sportily agile and comfortably smooth yet one which can also cope with off-road terrain. If the focus is on sportily active handling, the springs and above all the shock absorbers have to demonstrate a certain firmness, which precludes access to the brand’s typical suspension comfort and limits the off-road options. If the vehicle is set up with softer dampers to ensure suspension comfort and off-road capability, dynamic handling naturally suffers. The solution is “amplitude-dependent damping”: the damping forces of the shock absorber are configured to respond flexibly rather than lineally. In normal driving mode on moderately contoured roads or on slow off-road tours the system responds softly, enhancing both the comfort of the occupants and the off-road capability. To ensure that this level of comfort is retained in the face of hard driving or abrupt evasion manoeuvres, in these situations the dampers deliver a harder performance, ensuring optimum driving stability. The driver of the Vision GLK is supported by speed-sensitive power steering which ensures the optimum steering assistance for the given situation. Parking or manoeuvring off-road are an easy exercise because the greatest possible power assistance is on hand. At higher speeds the assistance is reduced in favour of greater driving stability.
Vision GLK FREESIDE: continuing a success story
Since the launch of the legendary G-Class in 1979, Mercedes-Benz has been a leader in the field of off-road vehicles. With the first generation of the ML-Class, which appeared in 1997, Mercedes-Benz marked out the contemporary sports utility vehicle segment. Including the latest generation of this model, which made its debut in 2005, this model series is one of the most successful premium SUVs in the world, with around 900,000 vehicles sold. The GL-Class in turn has occupied the top spot in the overall SUV world since 2006, its occupants travelling first-class whatever the conditions, whether on or off the road. The Vision GLK FREESIDE now demonstrates how the expertise garnered in the course of creating this sequence of models can be translated into compact format. The new compact character, in other words, is in the best of company – just like the production model, which is to be launched in autumn 2008.
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.
World premiere for the compact SUV from Mercedes-Benz: Vision GLK: one car with two different faces
- Expressive styling that echoes the original G-Class design
- Harmonious marriage of off-road capability and refined motoring culture
- New, clean BLUETEC engines with environmentally friendly profile
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. By presenting these two different vehicle profiles, Mercedes-Benz is highlighting the tremendous potential of the compact SUV study, which is making its world debut at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) 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.
The Vision GLK FREESIDE and Vision GLK TOWNSIDE provide a stylistically sound preview of a future compact SUV model bursting with character, whose sense of fascination stems from the way in which it fuses 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."
He has a particularly strong link to the compact and striking Vision GLK models, which dates back to his time as a vehicle developer in the mid-1980s when one of his remits was responsibility for development of the legendary G-Class. Looking back now, there is something he would like to make clear: "The requirements profiles have changed over time. One thing has certainly remained the same, however: a model from Mercedes with the letter "G" in its name must be capable of performing exceptionally under any conditions."
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 Vision GLK FREESIDE 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 trim elements made from brushed aluminium in the interior of the TOWNSIDE, on the other hand, set a more sporty tone.
Expressive, bold, independent – the Vision GLK design
Borrowing from the styling of the precursor of all Mercedes-Benz SUV models confers a special status on both the FREESIDE and TOWNSIDE. As Head of Design Professor Peter Pfeiffer neatly sums up: "With the G-Class we created a style icon that has been a yardstick for nearly 30 years now. Unifying this puristic design with the new Mercedes-Benz design idiom is what makes the two Vision GLK variants genuine characters in their own right."
And indeed, never before has it been possible to enjoy such a strikingly expressive preview of a forthcoming compact SUV model. The interplay between the original angular design and the design features typical of all modern Mercedes-Benz passenger cars exerts an enthralling appeal. The clear-cut design idiom, where taut lines interact with large, overextended surfaces, coincides with the bodyshell attributes of practical off-road vehicles, including short overhangs, a vertical front end, slender A-pillars, a steeply angled windscreen and flat roof lines. Specially manufactured 20-inch light-alloy wheels, adapted in each case to reflect the differing characters of the FREESIDE and TOWNSIDE, inject the bodies of the two Vision GLK models with extra power and vibrancy, as do the muscular contours of the wheel arches.
The bodywork's styling is far from being a means to an end in itself, however, rather it allows the benefits that are typically associated with off-road vehicles to be transferred for the first time to the more on-road-orientated, compact SUV class. Large angles of approach and departure coupled to generous ground clearance make excursions off the beaten track a pleasurable experience. The fact that the driver enjoys both an excellent overview of the body and a good all-round view courtesy of the raised seating position boosts everyday practicality and guarantees relaxed motoring, even when driving in dense city traffic.
Artfully setting off the persuasive design concept of the Vision GLK models are two special-effect paint finishes. "Diamond white magno" a metallic paint finish with a matt clear coat, gives the FREESIDE an extravagant flair. On top of this, detachable body parts finished in gleaming sterling silver generate an intriguing contrast. The TOWNSIDE is resplendent in "Alubeam blue", a special high-gloss reflective paint finish of unprecedented depth which emphasises the body's sporty qualities.
Interior sets new trends in the compact premium segment
The interior of the SUV studies is a seamless continuation of the exterior's bold looks, serving up a surprising interaction of stylistic contrasts that is generated by the juxtaposition of two quite different design approaches. On the one hand, both Vision GLK models offer an upmarket and luxurious interior, boasting materials of exquisite appeal plus precision build quality down to the finest detail. At the same time, however, the sophisticated surface finishes transfer the contemporary Mercedes design into the interior. The orchestrating element here, due to its dominant styling, is the dashboard, whose form sweeps on into the door trims, lending additional width to the generously proportioned interior. It is impossible to overlook the elegant strip of trim elements which extends across the dashboard's entire width, dividing the base structure into three vertically arranged levels. On the FREESIDE, this element is dominated by matt-finish anthracite-coloured cebrano wood with a white grain, along with a perfectly positioned seam of chrome. In the TOWNSIDE, brushed aluminium appears here to underline the dynamic character.
On both versions, the upper section of the dashboard is trimmed in black leather and spans the instrument cluster and the static central display of the COMAND APS in a single sweep. At the bottom, as well as on the centre tunnel and in the footwells, the different styling touches that distinguish the two Vision models appear once again. The FREESIDE's interior picks up on the exterior paintwork's colour scheme. The seats and lower door trims are upholstered in white leather, which has been treated with a special coating method to give it the same matt sheen as the exterior's "diamond white magno" paint finish. Quite apart from the stunning visual effect, this treatment of the natural covers gives them a silky soft surface that is kind to the skin and pleasant to the touch. Black piping seams on the seats help create the harmonious contrast between black and white. The interior appointments of the TOWNSIDE emphasise its sporty ambitions, with leather upholstery and trim whose light aquamarine colour complements the tones of the exterior's "Alubeam blue" finish. Here, dark blue piping seams produce a visually coherent contrast.
The driver's armrest and the COMAND APS controller are positioned for optimum ergonomics. The tried-and-tested operating logic borrowed from the S-Class makes it possible to navigate through the individual menus intuitively. Additional direct access buttons make it easier to call up the principal main functions.
Both Vision variants protect their occupants with an all-encompassing safety concept founded on a high-strength passenger call and energy-absorbing crumple zones at the front and rear. The raft of protective measures includes front airbags, sidebags and windowbags, a kneebag for the driver, along with crash-responsive head restraints.
New BLUETEC four-cylinder engines with AdBlue injection
The Vision GLK studies are powered by a brand new generation of diesel engines. The four-cylinder 2.2-litre unit furthers the basic dynamic driving concept of the automotive siblings, and is capable of generating exhilarating performance from its output of 125 kW/170 hp whilst at the same time cutting fuel consumption and emission figures. Technical highlights of the extremely compact and smooth-running CDI powerplant with rearward camshaft drive include the fourth-generation common-rail direct injection with an injection pressure of 2000 bar, as well as a two-stage turbocharger system.
The modular BLUETEC emission control system has been further enhanced by Mercedes-Benz, and is now being combined in its most efficient form for the very first time with a four-cylinder engine. "BLUETEC gives us a technology that makes it possible for us to combine the high efficiency and impressive torque of modern diesel engines with extremely low emissions – a perfect propulsion unit for a compact SUV like the GLK," declares Dr Thomas Weber, member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and responsible for corporate research and the development of Mercedes-Benz Cars. The focus of BLUETEC technology is on minimising emissions of nitrogen oxides. These are the sole component of exhaust gases whose levels are higher in diesel engines than in their petrol-powered counterparts due to their operating principle. The oxidising catalytic converter and maintenance-free particulate filter are supplemented by a SCR catalytic converter. AdBlue, a harmless aqueous solution of urea, is injected into the exhaust stream. This method converts as much as 80 per cent of the nitrogen oxides into non-toxic nitrogen and water. The study thereby provides a perfect demonstration of just how the more compact diesel models are also able to comply with the toughest emissions regulations, including even the EU6 limits that are only due to come into force for all new vehicles as of 2015. By that time, the current EU4 threshold for nitrogen oxides will have been brought down by a further 70 per cent or so to 0.08 g/km. Not even the stringent US limits enshrined in BIN 5 or California's LEV2 legislation would pose an obstacle for either the FREESIDE or the TOWNSIDE.
4MATIC drive system: maximum performance under any conditions
The new 4MATIC all-wheel-drive system featured in the Vision GLK FREESIDE and Vision GLK TOWNSIDE is one of the most proficient of its kind. The basic concept, with the engine installed longitudinally and the transmission and transfer case designed as a single block, produces a compact and lightweight arrangement that minimises frictional losses, as well as heralding a number of further benefits compared to other systems where the drive unit is installed crossways. The upshot of this is that fuel consumption is on a par with that of a comparable model with conventional two-wheel drive. Vibration and acoustic comfort are of a standard normally found in today's luxury models.
The basic 45:55 split of drive torque between the front and rear wheels combines with the ESP®, ASR and 4ETS dynamic handling control systems to produce supremely assured and perfectly predictable driving characteristics under all conditions. Optimum traction is assured at all times, along with maximum directional stability and flawless handling. The newly developed multiple-disc clutch in the centre differential comes to the system's aid when friction between the tyres and ground is particularly low, for example when driving over snow or ice. A basic interaxle lock of 50 Newton metres gives a boost to traction, without any loss of handling stability.
Agile driving dynamics, peerless comfort, reassuring active safety
The AGILITY CONTROL suspension fitted in the Vision GLK studies succeeds in resolving a conflict of aims that afflicts the SUV segment especially: this is because the chassis engineers seek to create a vehicle that is as sporty and agile as it is comfortable and smooth, plus, at the same time, capable of travelling off-road. If the focus is placed on sporty, dynamic handling, there must be a certain firmness about the tuning of the suspension and particularly the shock absorbers, which both precludes the desired ride comfort typical of the Mercedes-Benz brand and imposes restrictions on the vehicle's abilities in off-road terrain. If, on the other hand, the vehicle is purpose-built for ride comfort and off-road expertise by fitting softer dampers, its driving dynamics will of course suffer. "Amplitude-responsive damping" provides the solution: here, the shock absorber's smoothing forces are of a flexible nature, rather than having a rigid setting. During normal driving along moderately contoured roads or off-road excursions at low speeds, the system is tuned for soft response to the benefit of the occupants' sense of wellbeing and the vehicle's off-road abilities. In order to keep the occupants feeling at their ease when driving at a brisker pace or performing abrupt evasive manoeuvres, the dampers switch to a firmer setting in such situations to ensure maximum handling stability. At the same time, the driver of the Vision GLK can count on the support of the speed-sensitive steering, which provides the optimum level of power assistance as the situation changes. The system therefore makes light work of parking or off-road manoeuvres by maximising power assistance. As the speed increases, however, assistance is reduced in favour of greater directional stability.
Each of the two studies capitalises on the inherent benefits of the amplitude-responsive damping in their own way. With its rather sporty suspension tuning and a ride height that has been lowered by 30 millimetres, the on-road-orientated TOWNSIDE version maximises fun at the wheel when driving on tarmac. The FREESIDE, on the other hand, has been optimised for off-road terrain with longer spring travel and a softer basic set-up, promising the greatest possible driving pleasure regardless of the condition of the road ahead – even when there is no road as such to be seen.
Vision GLK: the latest member to join the premium SUV segment
Ever since the legendary G-Class was launched in 1979, Mercedes-Benz has laid claim to the role of leader in the off-roader segment. Today's Sports Utility Vehicle segment first started to take shape when Mercedes-Benz brought out the first generation of the ML-Class in 1997. Including the current generation, which made its debut in 2005, this model series has racked up around 900,000 sales to date, making it one of the most successful premium SUVs in the world. Since 2006, the GL-Class has in its turn reigned supreme in the SUV world, offering first-class travel in all conditions, both on the road and off it. The Vision GLK FREESIDE and TOWNSIDE now illustrate just how the tremendous expertise gleaned from this progression of models can be transferred to a more compact format. These two SUV breeds are therefore in the very best company – just like the series-production versions which will be making their market debut in autumn 2008.