Passion, style and innovative technology – the new SLK sets standards
Innovations are part of the successful history of the Mercedes-Benz SLK:
- In 1996 the first generation caused a sensation with the vario-roof, which transformed the wide-open roadster into a coupé with a fixed roof at the touch of a button in just a few seconds
- the second generation placed the warm AIRSCARF around the neck and shoulders of the occupants as needed, ensuring pleasurable open-top motoring even in cooler temperatures
- now the third generation is presenting one of its unique highlights – the world premiere of the panoramic vario-roof with MAGIC SKY CONTROL. It can be quickly switched to light or dark at the touch of a button
But the new Mercedes-Benz SLK offers more than merely individual highlights. It assumes a leading position in every discipline and offers fun at the wheel in every respect, with no half-hearted compromises. It impresses with characteristics which are generally deemed to be irreconcilable: it succeeds in uniting excellent comfort and high-quality equipment and appointments with a decidedly sporty flair, for instance. At the same time the new roadster is the most economical and thus the most environmentally friendly in its class, also setting new safety standards. And all-weather driving enjoyment – open and closed, in leisure-time and everyday use – is firmly anchored in the SLK’s genes.
The designers have tailor-made an outfit for the new SLK which emphasises its classic roadster proportions and puts them in the spotlight to thrilling effect. Behind the long bonnet is a compact passenger compartment positioned far back, and a short tail end. The SLK will tempt potential customers with the key attributes that characterise all the classic roadsters from Mercedes-Benz and that have also made many of them automotive icons.
The first feature to catch the eye is an upright radiator grille that stands proud and confident in the wind. It facilitates the long and well-proportioned bonnet and with its rearward light-catching contours it already hints at the roadster’s dynamic qualities. The wide radiator grille bears the Mercedes-Benz star in a prominent central position and displays a powerfully contoured fin, chromed at the front. The clearly defined headlamps complete the look for the new SLK’s face, which resembles that of the legendary 190 SL from the 1950s, which is regarded by many as being the original “SLK.” But it was certainly not just the past that the designers were focussing on; with the new SLK’s front end they also intentionally created a close visual link with the new Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG “gull-wing model” and the new CLS.
The amazing and measurable proof of the meticulously detailed work that has been carried out is that in spite of the more striking, steeper front and the larger frontal area, the Cd value has been cut to just 0.30 – a brilliant achievement (the preceding model’s Cd value was 0.32).
The closed, elegant shape of the side view with the classic roadster proportions quickens the pulse and is a visual promise of the sportiness and driving pleasure in store. Fine details show the care that has been taken by the Mercedes-Benz designers. For example, a fillet conceals the boot joint, so that it does not disturb the side aspect as with similar roof designs. The ventilation grilles in the front wings with a chromed fin are reminiscent of the famous Mercedes-Benz roadsters of the 1950s. In the new SLK they form the perfect starting point for a feature line which flows to the muscular rear wing, using light and shadow to add style and elegance to the sides. Meanwhile the upper edge of the wide headlamps – which boast all-LED technology for the first time – also appears to flow into the feature line.
Innovative technology with a unique roof concept
Driving a roadster is a wonderful emotional experience. Gliding through the landscape and its many sounds and smells at the wheel of an agile sports car, with the top down and the sun shining, awakens intensive and joyous feelings. In a Mercedes-Benz SLK, even rainy weather does little to mar this pleasure. Ever since the launch of the first SLK in 1996, this has been ensured by a vario-roof which converts the roadster into a coupé with a fixed roof at the touch of a button, and in just a few seconds. Since then, Mercedes-Benz engineers have constantly refined the vario-roof even further and maintained the SLK’s pioneering role in this technology.
For the first time, Mercedes-Benz is offering a choice between three variants of the lightweight vario-roof for the new SLK:
- The base version is a roof painted in the vehicle colour
- Alternatively there is the option of a panoramic vario-roof with tinted polycarbonate
- 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 operating principle is based on the physics of a plate condenser: if the glass structure is subjected to an electrical voltage, particles in the structure position themselves so that light is able to pass through the glass. If the voltage remains switched off, however, the particles position themselves randomly. This partially blocks the light, and the glass remains dark. The control unit and converter are integrated into the front section of the roof, and the switch is in the overhead control console.
In addition to the unique panoramic effect and transparency at the touch of a button, MAGIC SKY CONTROL also provides a top-class feel-good atmosphere. UV and infrared light are also effectively blocked in transparent mode, while insulation increases even more significantly and noticeably in darkened mode, thereby helping to keep the temperature on interior parts such as armrests cooler by up to 10 degrees Celsius compared with conventional tinted glass.
Measurements using a device called a star pyranometer in Death Valley, one of the world’s hottest places, impressively demonstrated the effect. This device measures the intensity of exposure to sunlight. With an open roof, the thermal load from the sun in the heat of Death Valley reached 1000 to 1100 W per square metre. With the transparent glass roof it dropped to 200 W, and when the roof was switched to darkened mode with MAGIC SKY CONTROL, it dropped to 40 to 50 W – one 20th of the original value and less than a 60 watt bulb.
Since the innovative glass also shields against the sun’s rays far more effectively than conventional thermal insulation glass or sunblinds, the occupants of the new SLK also enjoy the highest level of climatic comfort. When driving with the roof open would be unpleasant owing to intense heat, the driver and front passenger are able to relax under the MAGIC SKY CONTROL roof – an important contribution to onboard comfort and the driver-fitness safety typical of a Mercedes. Even when the vehicle is at a standstill the interior does not overheat, since the roof is switched to darkened mode when powered off.
The engineers have also refined the operating mechanism for the roof and boot lid. It now takes less than 20 seconds to open or close the roof completely. The improved mechanism mainly benefits the boot capacity.