This also applies to the interior. The aim was to transfer the dynamic and emotive design language of the exterior to the interior, thereby emphasising the active character of the sports roadster. The result is a success: the interior design uncompromisingly follows the roadster philosophy and ensures a harmonious link between man and machine.
One finds out what this means in practice when getting into the new Mercedes sports car. The design of the instrument panel is sporty and technically oriented, with a clear priority on practicality but without appearing cool or featureless. The interesting colour contrast formed by the silver-coloured controls and the black surfaces on the steering wheel, centre console and transmission tunnel already conveys the distinctive design concept of the new SLK-Class. Here superior technology not only impresses by its reliable operation, but also by its sophisticated design.
It is particularly the cockpit that forms a focal point for a successful combination of form and function, technology and aesthetics: two large, clear dial instruments supply the driver with the most important information – vehicle speed, time, engine speed and fuel level. When designing the dials the stylists followed the example of high-quality chronometers – one glance at the white needles is sufficient to give the driver precise information. Despite being highly functional this concept is special in stylistic terms. This is ensured by the silver-painted tubes which surround each of the two dial instruments. Their elliptical faces are heavily slanted and inclined towards each other, providing the driver with an excellent view at all times. Concentrating on essential driving information was the major consideration during the design process. The divided display between the tubes is therefore intentionally a background feature. It creates a clear distinction between important, permanently visible information and additional information which is only accessed when needed.
"User Interface Design" is the name given by designers to this interesting discipline. It refers to the clear arrangement and design of displays, switches and controls in the instrument panel, so that the driver recognises their meaning at once though they blend perfectly into the overall design concept. A synthesis of ergonomics and aesthetics. The centre console of the new SLK-Class shows how well both aspects can harmonise. Every button, every rotary switch exudes precision and attention to detail.
The graphic user interfaces of the Audio 50 APS and COMAND APS displays were likewise a challenge for the designers. The screen graphics for the day and night displays, as well as the menu system, have been made so user-friendly that the driver is able to find his way around quickly and intuitively.
However, the dashboard and centre console of the new sports roadster are not only good examples of the operating concept, they also have an important design function, namely to link the exterior with the interior. With its embossed centre surfaces and semi-oval upper ventilation grille, the dashboard continues the design theme of the bonnet and transfers it to the interior with a flourish. The centre console and tunnel cladding extend these flowing lines to the rear wall of the passenger compartment. In this way the body and interior combine as a work of art.
The SLK designers used the muscular, embossed surfaces of the dashboard to integrate two further striking features: the vertically arranged ventilation outlets that flank the centre console on both sides. In addition to fulfilling their task of supplying fresh air to the interior, these vents meet the design intention of combining technology with emotion. At the same time they lend more formal expression to the centre console and accentuate the cockpit feeling typical of a sports car.
This important effect was also a primary consideration when integrating the dashboard and door linings. When the doors are closed both components blend together perfectly in both form and colour. On entering the car one immediately feels comfortable and safe