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2008 NAIAS in Detroit: Vision of a compact crossover concept
Mercedes-Benz GLK SUV for autumn 2008

Mercedes-Benz Vision GLK Freeside compact SUV: front, static view.

Vision GLK is a compact SUV measuring 4.52 metres in length.

07 January 2008.

Following its world debut as a Vision GLK Freeside concept car at this year's North American International Auto Show in Detroit (2008 NAIAS, public days from 19 to 27 January), you'll have to wait until autumn 2008 to see the all new Mercedes-Benz compact GLK crossover in showrooms.

The new compact crossover gets its three GLK letters from the famous G-Wagen, with the middle L for luxury, and finally, the K for compactness (German: Kompaktheit), like in the SLK roadster.

Measuring 4.52 metres in length (slightly shorter than the 4.569-metre BMW X3 SUV), the compact Vision GLK Freeside concept car comes in a high-strength steel bodyshell with all-wheel drive capabilities and a special suspension to combine car-like driving characteristics with some SUV capabilities, as one can expect from modern crossovers.

Mercedes-Benz Vision GLK Freeside compact SUV: driving view from the back.

G from the G-Wagen, L for luxury, and K for compactness.

The new, compact crossover joins its bigger and tougher brothers in Mercedes-Benz SUV line up, the G-Class (since 1979) and the more modern, U.S. made ML-Class, which appeared first in 1997, with its latest generation launched in 2005, besides the GL-Class (since 2006).

In the Vision GLK Freeside concept car, a new-generation Bluetec four-cylinder diesel engine is combined with the 7G-Tronic seven-speed automatic transmission and the new 4MATIC all-wheel drive, in addition to the Mercedes-Benz Pre-Safe safety concept, Intelligent Light System (ILS), COMAND APS infotainment centre with a rear-seat entertainment system with two screens and Thermotronic 3-zone automatic climate control.

The body combines the angular design of the original G-Class with design features from the Mercedes-Benz passenger car range. The functional off-road character is expressed through the short overhangs to allow for good angles of approach and departure, with a good ground clearance, an upright front end, slim roof pillars, a steeply raked windscreen and taut roof lines, in addition to special 20-inch light-alloy wheels and muscular wheel arches.

Mercedes-Benz Vision GLK Freeside compact SUV: dashboard.

The dashboard is dominant, with a wide three-dimensional trim.

Inside, and as should inspire a crossover SUV, the dashboard is dominant, with a wide three-dimensional trim lending an additional sense of width. The upper area of the dashboard is trimmed in black leather and encompasses the instrument cluster and the static COMAND APS central display. The lower one, like the tunnel and the footwells, echoes the colour scheme of the exterior paintwork.

The driver’s armrest and the COMAND APS controller are placed in an ergonomic position. Control of the individual menus follow the control logic used in the S-Class. Additional shortcut buttons make it easier to access the main functions.

Safety elements include the high-strength passenger cell, energy-absorbing deformation zones at the front and rear, front airbags, sidebags and windowbags, plus a kneebag for the driver and crash-responsive head restraints.

Bluetec - The Vision GLK Freeside is powered by a new-generation diesel engine. The four-cylinder unit, with a 2.2-litre displacement, develops no less than 125 kW/170 hp (77.27 hp per litre), with reduced consumption and emissions. The technical features of the compact CDI powerplant with rear camshaft drive include fourth-generation common rail direct injection with an injection pressure reaching up to 2000 bar, and a two-stage turbocharger system.

Mercedes-Benz Vision GLK Freeside compact SUV: front seats view.

Armrest and Comand APS controller in an ergonomic position.

The modular Bluetec emission control system has been enhanced and combined for the first time with a four-cylinder engine (known currently in the new V6 E320 Bluetec and E300 Bluetec). This technology helps to combine high efficiency and torque with low emissions.

The Bluetec technology focuses on the reduction in nitrogen oxide emissions, 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 (SCR for Selective Catalytic Reduction) is also used. AdBlue, a harmless, aqueous urea solution, is injected into the exhaust gas stream, converting up to 80 percent of the nitrogen oxides into harmless nitrogen and water.

The compact four-cylinder diesel can 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, down to 0.08 g/km. Mercedes-Benz says that even the strict US BIN 5 limits and the Californian LEV2 regulations would not present a problem for the Vision GLK Freeside.

Mercedes-Benz Vision GLK Freeside compact SUV: side view from the rear.

45:55 front-to-rear drive distribution (variable when necessary).

4MATIC - The new 4MATIC all-wheel-drive system of the Vision GLK Freeside is compact, lightweight and friction-optimised, with a longitudinally installed engine and block-design main transmission and transfer case, bringing fuel consumption, according to the German carmaker, to a comparable level of conventionally powered vehicle.

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 enhance active safety through more predictable traction, driving stability and handling. 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 enhance traction while maintaining a high level of driving stability.

On rough terrain, pressing the “G” button in the centre console activates a special transmission mode which varies the 7G-TRONIC’s shift points, adjusts to “softer” accelerator characteristics (gentler reaction to the driver's right foot input) 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 pre-selected speed on steep downhill inclines.

Agility Control - The Vision GLK Freeside’s Agility Control suspension aims to combine on-road agility with comfort capabilities in off-road terrain. If the focus is on sporty handling, the springs and especially the shock absorbers need a certain firmness, at the expense of comfort and off-road flexibility. If the vehicle is set up with softer dampers for suspension comfort and off-road capability, dynamic handling suffers.

Mercedes-Benz claims to bring the solution with an “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 comfort and off-road capability. In hard driving or abrupt evasion manoeuvres, the dampers deliver a harder performance, for optimum driving stability.

A speed-sensitive power steering optimises steering assistance, boosting it in parking or off-road manoeuvres, while reducing it at higher speeds to help driving stability.

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