Even more alluring, more powerful and sportier than ever, the beguiling two-seater is due to celebrate its European market premiere in March 2004. Three dif-ferent engine variants are available for the new car, developing from 120 kW/163 hp to 265 kW/360 hp. The range includes – for the first time in this vehicle class – an eight-cylinder power unit from Mercedes-AMG. The V6 engine in the SLK 350, meanwhile, develops 200 kW/272 hp and delivers impressively dynamic driving pleasure.
The second generation of one of the most exciting and successful sports cars on the market is ready to hit the streets: Mercedes-Benz presents the new SLK-Class.
The second generation of the Mercedes compact two-seater also boasts an exquisite overall design, several details of which take their cue from Formula 1. The SLK thus remains true to its reputation as a trendsetter and technological leader in this category of sports cars. The further developed varioroof, which transforms the roadster into a coupé in just 22 seconds, is joined on the list of standard equipment by head/thorax sidebags, adaptive front airbags and two-stage belt force limiters. The car’s chassis, steering and manual transmission have been given an even sportier edge.
Plus, Mercedes-Benz is presenting a world first, in the shape of the innovative AIRSCARF neck-level heating system. At the touch of a button AIRSCARF generates warm air, which flows out from the head restraints. This allows the SLK passengers to keep the roof down even when the outside temperatures drop and to enjoy the open-top roadster experience the whole year round. Automatic climate control, bi-xenon headlamps with cornering light function, COMAND APS and the unique seven-speed automatic transmission 7G-TRONIC are among the other technical innovations offered as options for the first time in the SLK-Class. Ex-factory prices for the SLK-Class range from 33,524 to 63,974 euros.
The new Mercedes Roadster replaces a successful first-generation model enjoyed by over 308,000 delighted owners since autumn 1996. The global number one in its market segment, it serves as a symbol for the new, dynamic brand image of Mercedes-Benz.
The second generation of the SLK-Class has an even sportier edge in terms of both its design and engineering and, with its powerful engines, newly developed chassis, direct steering and precise six-speed manual transmission, delivers an even more agile driving experience. The body is 72 millimetres longer and 65 millimetres wider than the outgoing model, providing the SLK’s passengers with more space and even greater comfort.
Design: sporty dynamism, with styling elements inspired by motorsport
The design of the car reflects the sporty and powerful character of the new SLK-Class. A long bonnet, flat windscreen, wide doors and a short rear represent typical roadster characteristics given extra emphasis by the new SLK. This extra forcefulness is underpinned by a 30-millimetre longer wheelbase, clear tapering of the front and rear ends and a wedge-shape silhouette.
A range of captivating details inspired by racing cars – such as the arrow-shaped nose, wing profiles in the radiator grille and the twin-tailpipe system – underline the origins of the SLK in a company which can point to an illustrious sports-car tradition.
The interior has also been completely redesigned and upgraded through the use of carefully selected materials. The design concept is distinguished by switches, buttons and trim elements with silver-coloured surfaces, which form a striking contrast to the dark tones of the dashboard. Plus, customers can choose from a range of six shades for the leather trim, or any one of twelve designo appointment colours.
The beautifully sculptured bodywork is also an achievement in terms of its technical prowess. The Cd value (0.32) is a good example, as are the rigidity of the body and the fuel tank capacity (70 litres). The Sindelfingen engineers have further optimised and perfected the technology behind the innovative varioroof, which marked the SLK out as a trendsetter on its arrival in 1996. The roof now opens and closes even more quickly and takes up even less space in the boot – thanks to the pivoting rear window. With the varioroof open, boot capacity stands at 208 litres according to the VDA method - 63 litres more than in the outgoing model. A further new feature now makes it possible to operate the varioroof by a remote control function in the car key (optional).
Safety: newly developed protection system with adaptive airbags
State-of-the-art construction processes, the increasingly large proportion of high-strength steel alloys (40 percent) and a host of other measures besides allow the new SLK-Class to leave the outgoing model in its slipstream. The occupant protection systems adjust their reactions according to the situation in hand. For example, adaptive airbags – which inflate in two stages in response to the severity of the accident – are making their debut in this model series.
The standard-fitted belt force limiters also work through two stages and adapt to the severity of the accident. In the event of a side impact, newly developed head/thorax airbags inflate to protect the head and upper body of the passengers. A special sensor also triggers the side airbags and both belt tensioners if the car rolls over. Robust steel tubes in the A-pillars and solid roll-over bars behind the seats offer additional protection in this type of accident.
Engines: up to 25 percent more power coupled with reduced fuel consumption
The range of engines available for the SLK-Class is also quite unique in this market segment. Here, Mercedes-Benz is the first manufacturer to respond to the desires of drivers with more sporting ambitions by adding an eight-cylinder powerplant to the mix. The V8 unit gives the SLK 55 AMG class-leading output (265 kW/360 hp), torque (510 Newton metres) and acceleration (0-100 km/h: 4.9 seconds) figures. The top-of-the-line engine is linked up as standard with the newly developed seven-speed automatic transmission 7G-TRONIC, which the driver can choose to operate using steering-wheel gearshift buttons.
For the SLK 350, meanwhile, Mercedes-Benz has developed a new six-cylinder engine with around 25 percent more power (200 kW/272 hp) and 13 percent extra torque (350 Newton metres ). The four-valve unit is one of the most powerful V6 engines in its displacement class and reinforces its sporting credentials with a pleasing, full-throated sound.
Peak torque is available as low down as 2400 rpm and remains constant up to 5000 rpm. This provides the key to powerful acceleration and impressive mid-range sprints. The SLK 350 reaches 100 km/h from a standstill in just 5.6 seconds (with 7G-TRONIC: 5.5 seconds) and accelerates from 60 to 120 km/h in 8.7 seconds (with 7G-TRONIC: 5.1 seconds).
For the first time, Mercedes-Benz is using variable intake and exhaust camshaft adjustment in the V6 engine. This boosts output and torque, whilst also helping to save fuel. A second intake manifold, tumble flaps in the intake ducts and intelligent heat management are further technical highlights of the new six-cylinder unit. When fitted with the seven-speed automatic transmission, the new SLK 350 burns 10.1 litres of premium unleaded petrol per 100 km (NEDC combined), making it some three percent more economical than the outgoing SLK six-cylinder variant with five-speed automatic transmission, despite its significantly deeper power reserves.
The 120-kW/163-hp engine under the bonnet of the SLK 200 KOMPRESSOR is also celebrating its premiere in this Mercedes model family. The new arrival is a member of the unique TWINPULSE generation of four-cylinder engines from Mercedes-Benz, which offer further advances in terms of output, torque, smoothness and fuel consumption. The TWINPULSE system brings together various technologies, such as a supercharger, balancer shafts, an intercooler, variably adjustable camshafts and four-valve technology. This high-tech package allows the SLK 200 KOMPRESSOR to burn eight percent less fuel than the outgoing engine with the same output. NEDC combined consumption stands at 8.7 litres per 100 kilometres.
The SLK 200 KOMPRESSOR and SLK 350 are fitted as standard with a six-speed manual transmission which stands out with its short and fast shift travel and impressive precision. The proven five-speed automatic transmission is available as an option for the four-cylinder engine, whilst customers can order the new V6 model with the seven-speed automatic transmission 7G-TRONIC. In keeping with the dynamic and agile character of the SLK-Class, the driver can also operate either automatic transmission using buttons on the steering wheel (optional) and select the gears manually.
The chassis for the new SLK has a sporty set-up and differs from the outgoing model with its newly developed three-link front suspension, rack-and-pinion steering and an even more effective braking system. Mercedes engineers have carried out detailed modifications to the multi-link independent rear suspension and adapted it to the larger track width. The new SLK-Class comes as standard with 16, 17 or 18-inch light-alloy wheels, depending on the model. Sports suspension with a lowered body is available as an option. Comfort: new AIRSCARF system ensures even greater open-air driving pleasure
The new Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class is an open-top motoring enthusiast’s ticket to enjoying themselves more frequently, more of the time. Making its global debut, the AIRSCARF system allows you to open the varioroof in cooler weather and thus enjoy the roadster experience more often. AIRSCARF is an innovative heating system located in the seat backrests. At the touch of a button, heated air is directed out of special vents in the head restraints and acts like an invisible scarf to warm up the head and neck of the SLK passengers when out on the road.
Available as an option, this new development is unique to the new SLK. It works in three stages and is fitted with an electronic control unit which adjusts the neck-level heating according to the speed of the car and the outside temperature and regulates the blower speed in order to achieve optimum warm-air distribution in any situation.
The optional air conditioning system THERMATIC (standard in the SLK 350 and SLK 55 AMG) is another innovation designed to ensure the perfect on-board climate. For even more discerning customers, Mercedes-Benz has developed the luxury automatic climate control system THERMOTRONIC with built–in sun and pollutant sensors.
Entertainment and information are delivered to SLK passengers through the Audio 20 CD stereo system, Audio 50 APS with integrated colour display and navigation system or COMAND APS, which includes a DVD/CD player, colour screen and separate DVD drive for the navigation function. A surround-sound system with eleven speakers and 380-watt output is also available as an option in order to further optimise the in-car audio experience.
Exterior: an expression of athletic power and sporting prowess
Interior: form and function, technology and aesthetics in perfect harmony
Colours: 50 different ways of making the SLK more personal
The new SLK-Class by Mercedes-Benz is an automobile that was primarily designed from the heart. The lines of this roadster bear the signature of talented and enthusiastic designers of both sexes who have defined its character by stylishly combining technology with aesthetics and function with emotion.
This is already shown by the first sketches with which they lent expression to their ideas. These present the SLK as a powerful sports car with large wheels, muscular shoulders and a dynamic wedge shape. The new two-seater was to be given more masculine lines than the preceding model, and show at first glance that it is more powerful – but also that it has grown up.
The front end plays an important part in the implementation of this concept. It symbolises sporty attributes such as power and performance by means of a long bonnet with a wide, slightly raised central axis, which tapers towards the striking front section and gives the Roadster a new but familiar face. In this way the SLK-Class echoes a stylistic feature of the successful Mercedes Silver Arrows from Formula 1, while demonstrating unmistakably that it possesses the genes of the legendary Mercedes racing sports cars.
This muscular appearance is reinforced by two horizontal wing sections in the radiator grille, as well as an extended front apron with a large lower air intake, vertical vanes and spoiler edges swept well to the sides. The designers have used styling features like this to emphasise the width of the body and underline the powerful presence of the Roadster. Headlamps: striking to the last detail
The large headlamps likewise provide an unmistakable emphasis, both by day and by night: during daylight the highly polished surfaces reflect sunlight to make the lighting units sparkle like precious gems, and at night the state-of-the-art projection lamps characterise the lighting concept of the SLK-Class and show that the sophisticated design is backed up by equally sophisticated technology.
On looking closer one discovers a design refinement which shows the attention to detail by the Mercedes designers: the outer areas of the lenses continue the muscular contour jointly formed by the wing and bonnet, stylishly extending this to the front as a prominent curvature. The projection lenses of the headlamps follow precisely this shape, protruding forward and reminding one of high-quality camera lenses with their chrome surrounds.
In this way the headlamps both stand out and blend harmoniously into the lines of the front end: precision in both form and technology. This is particularly obvious in the version with bi-xenon headlamps. In this case the chrome surrounds of the projection lenses are partly transparent, which also provides interesting lighting effects when viewed from the side. Side lines: muscular flanks
The new SLK-Class also shows its unmistakable character when viewed from the side: a long bonnet, wide doors and a short rear end – these are the typical features of a sports roadster, and they are even more prominent in this case. This is partly because the wheelbase is 30 mm longer and the body 72 mm wider than in the preceding model. These new dimensions emphasise the powerful proportions typical of a roadster. Owing to the extremely short front and rear overhangs, the gaze is focused on two very important features of a sports car, namely the wheels.
The 16-inch wheels underline the muscular, and active nature of the new SLK-Class when viewed from the side. Widely flared wings extend around the well-filled wheel arches like perfectly tones muscles, symbolising the athletic power of this roadster. The body language is clear: in these areas the metal skin is intentionally tailored to be rather tight and "body-conscious", with pronounced curves that arouse curiosity about the muscles concealed beneath it. This impression is even more striking in the six-cylinder SLK 350, as Mercedes-Benz uses 17-inch wheels as standard here.
The wheel arches form a dramatic contrast to the large, smooth flanks of the body-work. Here the design exudes a sense of calm, and it is here that the Mercedes designers have placed their masterly signature by allowing lines and surfaces to interplay – thereby achieving stylish effects.
One line is sufficient to lend tautness to the entire side of the car. This rises slightly to the rear from the front wheel arch and creates a visual link with the rear end, defining the wedge-shape of the body. At the same time this line breaks the light and provides an interesting contour arising from the dramatic interplay between convex and concave surfaces.
Rear end: dominated by dynamism
The swept-back A-pillars accentuate the dynamic silhouette of the Roadster. These continue the lines of the bonnet and transfer them to the rear end in a curve when the varioroof is closed, the C-pillars dipping down gently into the boot lid and characterising its slightly curved form. One might compare these flowing lines with a cord of muscle, too; it extends over both outer areas of the boot lid and gently transfers its strength down to the rear apron. This provides a visual separation from the spoiler lip, as it slightly raises the centre area of the boot lid, forms a horizontal line and contributes to the outstanding aerodynamics of the new SLK-Class.
Other styling features at the rear of the SLK-Class include two oval exhaust tailpipes in chrome, striking tail lights with LED technology and an integral, powerfully accentuated rear apron. These too emphasise the uncompromising athleticism of this unique automobile.
In other words, the new SLK-Class cuts an impressive figure from any angle and viewpoint. Colours: in line with the trend
A tasteful colour scheme and carefully selected materials perfect this all-round ambience. Depending on customer requirements the door linings in the SLK are in a two-tone design: when leather upholstery is specified, the centre panel, armrest and parts of the magnesium door handle share one of the interior colours.
And since colours are also to some extent a sign of the times, the specialists in Sindelfingen also produced a new range of colours for the SLK-Class. Whereas strong, very intense colours were the order of the day in 1996, when the Roadster was first launched, there is now an unmistakable trend towards more discreet colours. Indeed, these suit the new SLK and its sporty character very well. The evocative names of the metallic finishes already say something about the current colour tastes of car buyers: tanzanite blue, andradite green, cubanite silver, benitoite blue. Incidentally, the last of these exterior finishes is reserved exclusively for the new SLK-Class.
The SLK-Class offers the most varied colour range in conjunction with leather upholstery. In this case SLK customers have a choice of six interior colours: black, universe blue, orient beige, dusky red and alpaca grey. In conjunction with the twelve exterior colours this provides a host of different ways of achieving an individual colour scheme for the sports car. Mercedes designers recommend 50 combinations that go particularly well together. In addition, the Mercedes-Benz designo range of appointments includes twelve special metallic paint finishes, ten leather trim shades, single-tone leather/Alcantara trim and Alcantara roof lining. The designo appointments come in exquisite Japanese ash or natural poplar.
A world first: AIRSCARF provides the warming effect of an invisible scarf
Sensor-controlled heating and air conditioning systems
Chronometer-style cockpit combines cutting-edge technology and aesthetics
The latest audio/navigation systems guide drivers to destinations across Europe
Longer and more– that’s the message sent out by the new SLK-Class to aficionados of open-top motoring. It means that even more trips can be made with the vario-roof down and that the open-air motoring season stretches into the colder times of the year courtesy of the sensational, sporty Mercedes Roadster. It is all thanks to a revolutionary new neck-level heating system for both driver and passenger which is now available as an option.
AIRSCARF is the name given by the Mercedes engineers to their world first. It works as follows: warm air which is emitted from special vents in the head restraints at the touch of a button acts as an invisible scarf by flowing around the neck, throat and head of the SLK’s occupants.
With this innovation, the Stuttgart-based car manufacturer is once again helping to enhance "thermal comfort" a topic which has always played a prominent role throughout the development of open-top Mercedes cars. Their many years of experience in the development of this type of car have shown Mercedes engineers that open-top motoring alone cannot guarantee driving pleasure in the long term. Passenger comfort is no less important whilst driving with the roof down, and is often hampered as the result of a draught or a poor seating position.
It was with this consideration in mind that the developers of the AIRSCARF worked closely together with their colleagues from the aerodynamics department. During wind-tunnel testing they focused their attentions on maintaining a draught-free interior, as this was crucial to creating an effective system of neck-level heating. The result is a seating position which is matched to the height of the windscreen frame so that the airflow is directed over the heads of the SLK passengers; this means they are truly screened from the wind when seated in the car, making the journey a much more comfortable one. Thanks to these aerodynamic measures, the prerequisites for optimising thermal comfort whilst driving with the roof down had been fulfilled. However, the SLK developers had no intention of stopping there: as well as smoothing the airflow with the draught-stop, they wanted to warm the air up too. And after a development and testing phase which lasted several years, their efforts were rewarded with the creation of the AIRSCARF system. AIRSCARF technology: heating element and blower in the seat backrest
Over the course of numerous test runs, the seat development team in Sindelfingen tried out a number of different ideas and concepts for the neck-level heating system, and soon came to the conclusion that only a system that was integrated into either the seat or the head restraint could achieve the desired level of heating. In other words, the technology used had to be both small enough to fit into the SLK seats and at the same time powerful enough to generate enough thermal energy to heat the air-flow in the roadster interior with the roof down.
The engineers at Mercedes were able to resolve these conflicting technical objectives using state-of-the-art, high-performance ceramic materials: various elements made of barium titanate and other metal oxides are energised, causing them to heat up in a matter of seconds and emit heat continuously. This does not drain the car’s 12-volt power supply though, as once a certain temperature is reached the electrical resistance of the ceramic material suddenly jumps, thereby reducing power consumption; heat output remains unchanged, however. This produces an equilibrium between the electrical energy the ceramic material is fed with and the heat output it produces. The experts refer to this state as a "Positive Temperature Coefficient" or PTC for short. Meanwhile, the ceramic heating element is able to prevent itself from over-heating by monitoring its surface temperature and automatically reducing the output if necessary.
As well as the compact design, this technology’s key benefits are its speed when heating up and the constant heat output.
The PTC air heater for the AIRSCARF system measures only a few centimetres in size, allowing it to fit into the backrest of the SLK seat. It consists of a number of rectangular ceramic elements with a total heat output of around 216 watts. The heat produced is dissipated into the air through aluminium fins which are positioned between the individual ceramic elements. A blower directs the air though a plastic duct until it reaches the head restraint where it flows out of a special vent to warm up the neck, throat and head of the seat occupant. Temperature control: adjusted according to the vehicle speed and outside temperature
AIRSCARF comes equipped with a three-speed switch and an electronic control module that adjusts heating at neck level to meet current requirements. A data bus keeps the micro-computer in contact with the speedometer, the temperature sensor in the centre console and the exterior thermometer of the Mercedes Roadster. The micro-computer then compares this up-to-the-minute data with the stored characteristic curves for particular ambient conditions and driving situations.
Pushing a button starts the system in switch position 3, after which it adjusts automatically depending on ambient temperature and road speed. The AIRSCARF system adapts the blower speed constantly in order to achieve optimal distribution of the warm air in all situations. This adaptive control based on stored characteristic data is active up to a speed of 120 km/h. At higher speeds, the system operates at a constant setting. Anyone preferring to regulate the heating effect individually can also select three different output settings manually via the buttons in the centre console.
Sports seats: newly developed design with rigid magnesium frame
As well as the AIRSCARF, the seat experts at the Mercedes-Benz Technology Centre (MTC) worked on the development of further special technical features which are geared towards boosting ride comfort and increasing practicality. The sports seats boast a number of distinguishing features, including core springing and a layer of foam which provides a precise level of cushioning. Both of these elements – the core springs and the layer of foam – are incorporated into a robust cushion shell made from fibre-reinforced plastic. When it came to the seat backrests, the engineers opted for magnesium. By combining low weight with high strength, this high-tech material helps to boost occupant safety by providing extra lateral bracing for the side wall in the event of a side-on collision, for example. In addition to this, the silver-painted magnesium frame provides a solid basis for attaching the standard head/thorax sidebags. The backrests’ foam cushioning is applied directly onto cushion holders made from glass-fibre reinforced plastic. These are in turn supported by the magnesium frame.
The seats fitted in the SLK-Class feature fore-and-aft, height and squab-angle adjustment, allowing all occupants to find their ideal position. Compared to the predecessor model, the engineers at Mercedes have been able to increase the fore-and-aft adjustment range by nine millimetres to a total of 247 millimetres. Yet another novel feature is the facility for folding the driver’s and passenger’s seat backrests forwards. A coat hook can also be found on the rear of each seat backrest in the new SLK. Dimensional concept: extra room for driver and passenger alike
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 dimensions 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.
Climate control: three systems available to choose from
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 employs 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 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.
THERMATIC represents a practical extension to the automatic heating system. Although the basic heating and ventilation system is equipped with sensors and an electronic control for maintaining the desired interior temperature at a constant level, this system reaches its limits during the hot summer months as it lacks the necessary refrigeration unit. This gave rise to the development of the THERMATIC system that is fitted as standard on SLK 350 and SLK 55 AMG models. This system cools down the air flowing into the car from the outside whilst also removing any moisture. At high ambient temperatures, the unit also automatically governs the proportion of recirculated air used in order to cool down the interior of the car more quickly.
The THERMATIC system fitted in the SLK-Class basically works using the same reheat principle featured by many of the Mercedes-Benz air conditioning systems. This means that the unit operates permanently, even at low ambient temperatures, in order to first cool the in-flowing air and to then dry it, thereby preventing the windows from misting up. Following this, the air is then reheated to the desired temperature. The system uses the current air humidity for doing this: a dew-point sensor monitors the air humidity constantly and supplies the air conditioning’s micro-computer with the data required for governing the reheat function to match requirements. Consequently, the in-flowing air is cooled down depending on the air’s moisture content and then reheated. The advantage of this approach is that the air conditioning works far more economically than conventional systems, as well as offering greater comfort.
This intelligent system of control is made possible by a refrigerant compressor which is governed by the electronics to produce the exact cooling output required. Whereas air conditioning compressors used to cut in and out by means of an electromagnetic clutch, the compressors on the latest Mercedes systems are connected to the engine by means of a belt drive, keeping them running permanently and removing the need for a clutch. The smooth adjustment of the air conditioning compressor is the task of a solenoid valve which varies the compressor’s swept volume.
The "Defrost" and residual engine heat utilisation modes are part of the THERMATIC system’s standard specification, as is a combined dust and activated charcoal filter which is capable of absorbing pollutants and odours in the air, as well as particulate matter.
Luxury automatic climate control meets even the most exacting requirements
THERMOTRONIC represents the very ultimate in climate control for the new SLK-Class, and offers S-Class standards of climate comfort in a sports car. The scope of functions includes automatically regulating the temperature separately for the driver and passenger sides, as well as using additional sensor signals for controlling the system. The clearly set-out display in the control panel in the centre console indicates the current temperature settings.
The system reaches its full potential in automatic mode which SLK passengers can activate by pressing the "Auto" button. Once they have done this, there is no need to worry about adjusting the climate control settings as the system will then cool or heat the air automatically based on various sensor information:
A multifunction sensor monitors the air humidity, ambient temperature and pollutant content of the air. It reacts particularly sensitively to the carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides contained in exhaust fumes, and automatically activates the air recirculation flap the instant it detects any sudden increase in these pollutants. As a result, contaminated air is kept out of the vehicle interior.
Penetration by the sun’s rays is registered by a sensor positioned behind the windscreen which comprises two photodiodes. These diodes relay precise information on the angle of incidence as well as the intensity of the sun’s rays. Using this data, the computer is able to first calculate a mean value for the current background brightness, which it then compares with the brightness values for the two sensor zones. In this way, the system is able to determine if the sun is shining particularly intensely on one of the two seats and then adjust the temperature control and blower setting in this zone accordingly.
The interior temperature is measured by means of a temperature pick-up in the air conditioning’s control panel.
Once again, the THERMOTRONIC luxury automatic climate control features a residual engine heat utilisation mode, a defrost function and a combined dust and activated charcoal filter. The individual temperature settings, meanwhile, are stored in the electronic ignition key that comes with the SLK-Class. Dashboard: top marks for form and function
The attractively styled heating and air conditioning controls exemplify the design concept applied throughout the SLK interior. Stimulating colour contrasts and high-grade materials have been used to create an ambience of sporty practicality which represents a novel reinterpretation of the roadster philosophy. The cockpit and dashboard offer a number of technical and stylistic highlights:
The compact three-spoke steering wheel (diameter 380 millimetres), sporting integral, silver-painted multifunction buttons and a Mercedes star with a chrome finish, is adjustable for both rake and height.
The striking design of the instrument cluster, with silver-coloured cylindrical tubes housing the speedometer and clock on the left as well as the rev counter and the fuel gauge on the right, very much recalls the cockpit design of racing cars from bygone times. The tubes are both turned slightly inwards and sloped at the front, to ensure that the driver has no problems reading the dial-type gauges. The styling of the white-lit dials is in keeping with that of high-quality instrumentation, producing an impression of supreme precision. The indicator and warning lamps are distributed over the faces of the two gauges and only become visible when the ignition is switched on or a malfunction is detected.
Positioned between the dial-type gauges is a two-section central display which indicates the mileage (top) and the ambient temperature. On SLK-Class models fitted with an automatic transmission, information on the current selector lever position and drive mode also appears in the bottom display.
The central display is coupled with the buttons on the multifunction steering wheel, which can be used by the driver to call up further information depending on the Roadster’s specification, such as trip computer data, navigation information or the phone book, or to programme up to 50 individual settings.
The centre console blends smoothly into the dashboard, while the semi-oval air outlets mirror the bonnet’s styling, fusing the exterior and interior to form a harmonious whole. Beneath the two pivoting louvred outlets there is room for a compartment, which is ideal for storing smaller travel items. Alternatively, a twin cup holder can be fitted here on request. Below this is positioned the in-car radio or COMAND system whose display is flanked by silver-painted buttons on the left and right. The same silver finish is used for the horizontal panel of switches, producing a vivid contrast with the basic black trim of the centre console. The rotary controls for the heating or air conditioning system, the shift lever, the handbrake handle, as well as the controls for the vario-roof and for adjusting the exterior mirrors likewise have a silver finish that contrasts with the black background of the transmission tunnel trim.
The armrest between the seats doubles as the cover for a stowage compartment which can be specified with a socket for connecting a mobile phone. The cover is linked up to the central locking system. A second stowage compartment with a cover is fitted to the rear wall of the interior.
A silver-coloured trim strip adorns the passenger side of the dashboard. With a capacity of 6.3 litres, the glove compartment offers some 30 percent more room than the predecessor model. As a result, it is now able to accommodate the six-disc CD changer which is available as a factory-fitted option. The glove compartment lid is integrated into the standard-fit central locking system of the SLK-Class, meaning that it is automatically locked whenever the Roadster is locked using the electronic ignition key’s remote control.
The dashboard is made from injection-moulded polyurethane film. This method permits precision moulding of edges and rounded corners, while a foamed plastic backing as much as ten millimetres thick helps to produce a pleasantly soft surface finish. As a result, both the looks and feel of the dashboard mirror the exacting standards of the Mercedes sports car in terms of high-class appeal and design.
Thanks to the top-grade materials used and their dimensional accuracy, the top sec-tion of the dashboard forms a single visual unit together with the door trim panels – the two components blend almost seamlessly with one another and seem to form an integral whole. Interior lighting: discreet interior lighting out on the road
To ensure that occupants aboard the new SLK-Class continue to feel completely at ease after nightfall and have no difficulty finding their way around the controls, Mercedes-Benz has developed a sophisticated lighting system for the interior, which even makes up part of the standard specification on SLK 350 and SLK 55 AMG models. A number of the lamps and LEDs remain illuminated whilst the vehicle is on the move, producing a pleasant interior glow and making it easier to find things in the dark. The interior lighting package comprises:
An ambient light, directed downwards, in the rear-view mirror casing
Lights in the footwells
Entry/exit lights in the doors
Additional reading lights in the rear-view mirror casing
Vanity lights in the trim at the top of the windscreen frame
Lights in the stowage compartments underneath the centre armrest and along the rear wall of the interior.
The standard specification of all SLK models includes two interior and reading lights in the overhead control panel, a glove compartment light, illumination of the ashtray and cigarette lighter, illumination of the controls in the dashboard, centre console and door trim panels, plus boot lamps. Car radios: high-tech information and communications technology
Mercedes-Benz offers three state-of-the-art units to keep the SLK’s passengers both informed and entertained. As well as being able to receive radio stations and play CDs, each is also able to serve as a command centre for a mobile phone. Apart from this, a great many of the functions can be controlled using the keys in the multifunction steering wheel, meaning that motorists do not need to take their hands off the wheel.
The Audio 20 CD unit features an FM/MW/LW receiver and allows up to ten station presets to be stored per waveband. The unit’s four-channel amplifier produces an output of 4 x 25 watts. The integral CD player is also capable of playing CDs which have been burned at home. Further features of this unit include automatic station search, RDS Radio Data System (for FM stations) and a station scan function.
The Audio 50 APS offered for the SLK-Class by Mercedes-Benz is a powerful system which combines a twin-tuner FM receiver, CD drive as well as an arrow-based navigation system with dynamic route guidance based on RDS-TMC into a single unit. Information appears on a 4.9-inch colour display with graphics capability. The road network of the main European countries is stored on the navigation CD, while the integral CD drive is also capable of playing music CDs whilst the navigation function is activated.
The sophisticated COMAND APS control and display system, which has already proved extremely successful in top-of-the-range Mercedes-Benz models, is now to be made available for the SLK-Class for the first time. Boasting the latest TFT technology, the large, 6.5-inch colour display offers outstanding brilliancy and colour reproduction, whilst the 16:9 picture format is also suitable for watching films. DVD videos, as well as audio and MP3 CDs can all be played in the DVD player, although safety considerations mean that it is not possible to play DVD films while the vehicle is moving. To allow it to receive radio stations, the unit is equipped with an RDS FM twin tuner as well as an aerial diversity function. The system is also capable of receiving long-wave, medium-wave and short-wave stations. Passengers aboard the SLK are also able to read SMS text messages on the COMAND screen and reply to them using the unit’s control keys.
Sound system: surround sound from eleven speakers
New SLK-Class models which are factory-fitted with one of the three available radio units come equipped with a total of nine speakers: three in each door, a centre-fill speaker in the top section of the dashboard, plus two speakers in the rear.
An even more effective acoustic experience is available by opting for the newly developed multi-channel sound system. With a maximum output of 380 watts, this system is harmonised perfectly with the acoustic conditions in the interior of the SLK. A microphone inside the car detects current noise levels, allowing the micro-computer to precisely adjust volume and sound, even with the vario-roof down. The result is sheer listening pleasure at all times. Each and every stereo signal is converted by the system into a surround sound, producing a peerless acoustic experience on both the driver’s side and the passenger side. The surround effect is achieved using two extra speakers which are positioned above the stowage compartment on the rear wall. The sound system can be combined with either the Audio 50 APS or the COMAND APS unit.