The revolutionary new AIRSCARF system, sports seats which are also ideally suited for longer journeys, the broad scope of adjustment for individual seat positioning and the seats’ increased fore-and-aft adjustment range all clearly demonstrate just how much progress has been made in the new SLK-Class when it comes to comfort and convenience compared to the previous model. The increase in the exterior body di-mensions plays a crucial role in this respect, as the car’s passengers also benefit from the additional length (+ 72 millimetres), width (+ 65 millimetres), height (+ 20 millimetres) and wheelbase length (+ 30 millimetres). The extra interior space means that passengers enjoy higher levels of comfort compared to the previous Roadster model.
The width at shoulder height, one of the key criteria for assessing interior comfort, now measures 1326 millimetres, representing an increase of 13 millimetres compared to before. The greater overall height of the body translates into 965 millimetres of headroom for the vehicle’s occupants, an extra 16 millimetres compared to the model it replaces.
Progress has also been made in terms of climate comfort in the new SLK-Class. There are now a total of three systems to choose from: the basic automatic heating system, THERMATIC and THERMOTRONIC.
Even the standard heating and ventilation system fitted by Mercedes-Benz, the automatic heating system, boasts an array of sophisticated microelectronics. The automatic heating system deploys sensors which permanently monitor the temperature inside the car and maintain the temperature constantly at the settings selected by the driver and passenger. The automatic heating system’s control panel in the centre console stands out by virtue of its attractive design, with all relevant functions clearly arranged using four ergonomically styled rotary switches: the temperature control for driver and passenger side, ten-speed blower control, air distribution, "Defrost" function, air recirculation and residual engine heat utilisation modes, plus the switch for the heated rear window.
As soon as the "Defrost" function is activated, the heating system automatically switches into heating mode, the heating output is increased to maximum and the electric motors inside the heating unit adjust the guide flaps in such a way that the airflow is accurately directed towards the windscreen and side windows.
As is the case with many of the heating functions, the automatic heating system’s standard air recirculation mode is also governed electronically. In order to prevent the windows from misting up, the duration of the recirculation mode is adjusted as a function of the ambient temperature, and is limited to a maximum of five minutes at temperatures below seven degrees Celsius. Once this period of time has elapsed, the air recirculation flap is opened by the system automatically, allowing fresh air to enter the interior of the car. The standard-fit interior filter remains active permanently, regardless of whether the automatic heating system is operating in fresh-air or air recirculation mode. As well as filtering out all particles of dust and diesel particulates larger than five micrometres in size, the filter also purifies the air by removing allergenic substances such as flower or grass pollen.
By conducting extensive airflow and climate-control simulations, the engineers at Mercedes have succeeded in optimising the air-intake and heating-duct cross sections. This has led to an audible difference, with the ventilation system now running far more quietly and even more effectively than before. The various ventilation outlets in the dashboard have also been increased in size and number with the intention of achieving a more pleasant ventilation of the interior which is free of draughts.
It was with this important consideration in mind that a system of indirect ventilation was developed. Featuring an air vent which is positioned beneath the perforated grille in the centre of the dashboard and is directed towards the windscreen, this method of indirect ventilation distributes cool air over a large area to prevent any draughts from forming on SLK models fitted with the THERMOTRONIC system. The majority of the other ventilation outlets in the dashboard are also fitted with individual adjustment wheels which can be used to reduce or even cut off the airflow from the outlet in question, or to direct it upwards, downwards or to the side.
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