|Mercedes-Benz Vision GLK Freeside|
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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."
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.
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.
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.
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