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Monday, January 28, 2008

New Mercedes-Benz CLC-Class Revealed

Headlamps: projection-beam technology for greater visibility after dark

The Mercedes engineers have developed halogen projection-beam headlamps for the new CLC model series, which provide a major boost to driving safety after dark thanks to their long range and uniform beam distribution. Fog lamps are also included in the standard specification. Even more powerful bi-xenon headlamps are available as an option, which Mercedes-Benz combines as standard with the cornering light function and a headlamp cleaning system.

The cornering light function is integrated into the fog lamps and is automatically activated if the driver turns the steering wheel and/or operates the indicator at a speed below 40 km/h. This illuminates the frontal area beside the car to an angle of up to 65 degrees, with a range of approx. 30 metres. As such, this lighting function not only enhances safety when negotiating junctions or turnings but is also active even when taking bends slowly, more effectively illuminating the sides of the road that would otherwise remain in the dark.

PARKTRONIC: parking aid with new control logic

The optional PARKTRONIC parking aid is just one of the many systems and details that have been newly developed or enhanced for the Sports Coupé. The ultrasonic sensors are now set flush in the front and rear bumpers; these sensors identify obstacles that appear at a distance of 100 (front) or 80 centimetres (rear) in front of or behind the CLC. The system response during straight-line reversing has been reprogrammed: in this situation, the visual and acoustic warning for the driver is suppressed if the front end of the Sports Coupé passes a stationary obstacle. This means in practice that if the CLC, for instance, is backed out of the garage, a warning is no longer given if the ultrasonic sensors have identified the garage walls or the door frame. The driver can concentrate fully on reversing. The system then only responds if the driver turns the steering wheel and an obstacle appears in the area covered by PARKTRONIC.

Sports seats: enhanced lateral support with the familiar Mercedes comfort

The interior of the new Mercedes-Benz CLC is akin to a tailor-made suit. A sporty cut with its perfect fit and top-quality comfort. The standard-fit sports seats with their enhanced lateral support and contemporary material combination add decisively to this all-round feeling of comfort. The side bolsters are made out of ARTICO man-made leather, while the centre sections of the seat and backrest are lined with fabric. A foam cushion with multiple ventilation holes trimmed in a breathable fabric provides the hallmark Mercedes “springing and damping” qualities.

Both the fore-aft setting and the seat height are continuously adjustable. The seat cushion can also be adjusted individually. First-class comfort for seat, head restraint and steering wheel settings comes courtesy of the optional Exclusive package for the new Sports Coupé. Simply by pressing a button in the door trim, the electric motors adjust the seat, head restraint and steering wheel to the desired positions that are stored together with the settings for the electrically adjustable exterior mirrors. This practical memory function works on the driver and front passenger seat.

The Exclusive package for the new CLC also includes the THERMOTRONIC luxury automatic climate control system that offers even more functions and more sophisticated sensors than the standard-fit THERMATIC. The unit automatically controls temperature and air distribution separately for the driver and front passenger side by analysing sensor signals relating to exterior and interior temperature, sun position, humidity and level of pollution in the outside air. THERMOTRONIC also includes an activated charcoal filter.

Infotainment: new generation of units provides digital music experience

Information, communication, navigation, entertainment - four components that are currently just as important when driving as, say, agile handling, a high level of comfort or powerful engines. Nobody wants to be without news, telephone, navigation or music in the car. That is why these topics feature at the top of our list of priorities when developing new Mercedes models, including the CLC: the Sindelfingen engineers have developed a new generation of units for the Sports Coupé that bring luxury-class cutting-edge technology to the two-door model.

Three units are available; all include a colour display, a twin tuner for enhanced radio reception, speed-sensitive volume control, a keypad for entering telephone numbers and radio frequencies as well as a Bluetooth interface that wirelessly links a mobile phone to the hands-free system.

Audio 20 with CD player
The car radio with integrated CD player (MP3-compatible) features an FM/ MW, SW and LW tuner with automatic station search, RDS function (with FM reception), direct frequency selection via the keypad in the centre console and a five-inch colour display.

Audio 50 APS with DVD navigation
This infotainment system combines car radio, telephone exchange and Europe-wide DVD navigation system in a single unit. Navigation instructions – including a junction zoom function -- are indicated using arrows on a colour display (five inch). The integrated DVD drive can be used for navigation or audio data. If the (optional) six-disc DVD changer is fitted, Audio 50 APS also comes as standard with the enhanced LINGUATRONIC voice-operated control system with whole-word recognition capability.

COMAND APS with hard disc for navigation and music library
The multimedia system includes a Europe-wide navigation system with the associated data stored on a hard disc (40 gigabytes). This provides lightning-fast access to navigation data and enables route information to be processed even faster. The roadmap is shown on a high-resolution 6.5-inch colour display. COMAND APS also includes a music library with capacity for four gigabytes of music. Here the driver can store around 1000 tracks in MP3 format from CD, DVD or memory card. The system automatically identifies the tracks and performers and shows the information on the colour display. Above the colour display the unit has a slot for SD memory cards that can also be used as music storage media. As an option, COMAND APS is available from Mercedes-Benz with a six-disc DVD changer and voice-operated control system.

Interactive interface for iPod & Co.

The music library and memory card slot included with COMAND APS demonstrate that entertainment was an important issue when developing the new audio units: Mercedes customers can put together their individual music selection and take it with them on an SD card. For the first time an iPod, USB stick or other external audio devices can be connected up to the infotainment system in the CLC courtesy of a newly developed universal interface; this interface is available ex factory for all infotainment systems in the new CLC. Customers then simply need to obtain a compatible cable that is available from the Mercedes accessories range.

This new interface is dubbed Universal Consumer Electronic Interface - UCI for short. Yet there is more to it than just an electronic socket in the glove compartment. The UCI interface also includes a control unit that connects the external music storage media to the on-board electronics and the Sports Coupé's control system. This has the advantage that the iPod tracks are displayed in the instrument cluster and on the colour screen in the centre console and can be conveniently selected using the buttons on the multifunction steering wheel. Moreover, the audio device's battery is also charged up as long as the portable music storage media is connected to the car via the UCI interface.

The (optional) "Logic7" surround sound system delivers consummate listening pleasure when fitted in the Sports Coupé, providing a natural 360 degree musical experience on all seats and transforming the CLC into a concert hall on wheels. Regardless of whether the music comes from a DVD or CD, whether it was recorded to Dolby 5.1 surround standard or simply comprises regular stereo recordings, the experience is unsurpassed. A 450 W amplifier distributes the music output.

Voice control with whole-word recognition capability

The voice-operated control system is part of the standard specification for the CLC if Mercedes customers specify the Audio 50 APS with six-disc DVD changer, or the COMAND APS multimedia unit. LINGUATRONIC conveniently operates the telephone, audio and navigation system using its whole-word recognition capability. So the driver no longer has to painstakingly spell everything out but can simply say each particular word when entering a destination, selecting a radio station or calling up a name included in the phone book.

The sound output is digitised during the brief dialogue, converted into a frequency spectrum and finally analysed. Within a matter of milliseconds the computer extracts various features from the voice input and identifies the phonemes – the distinct sound units that make up speech. The software instantly verifies each sound, combines the various phonemes, compares them against the contents of a stored phoneme dictionary and also calculates the acoustic probability of the word. Consequently, the system can recognise even minute differences in pronunciation; for instance, it can differentiate between the words "street" and "straight". The system includes the phonemes for six different languages.

Mercedes-Benz has also made a major contribution to road safety with LINGUATRONIC since the driver no longer needs to take their hands off the wheel in order to operate the phone or audio units, simplifying things for the driver workload and allowing them to concentrate fully on the traffic. In 1996, Mercedes-Benz was the first car maker to offer this kind of voice-operated control system in a car. This first-generation LINGUATRONIC required a computer with a mere 512 kilobytes of storage capacity; today that figure is well over ten megabytes.

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Related entries:

Mercedes CLC Spied: C Class Sportcoupe to be renamed
Mercedes CLC to Debut at Fashion Week Berlin 2008


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