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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Mercedes SLK Facelift: In Depth

Telematics with voice control and MP3 connection

The new-generation SLK is accompanied by an entirely new generation of telematics componentry, boasting improved user friendliness, high performance and a host of new, handy functions. A hands-free facility using Bluetooth technology comes built in as standard, as does an aux-in port for connecting portable audio devices such as an iPod. A new media interface can also be specified as an option. The "Universal Consumer Electronic Interface" as it is known in the trade - or UCI for short - is more than just a new electronic connector in the glove compartment. The UCI interface also comprises a control unit which links up the external music storage device with the Roadster's electronic network and operating system. The great advantage of this is that the iPod's audio tracks appear in the instrument cluster and in the centre console's colour display, and can be simply called up by using the buttons on the multifunction steering wheel. The audio device's battery is recharged at the same time.

Exquisite, open-top sound experience

Customers can enjoy a unique listening experience, regardless of whether the vario-roof is open or closed, by opting for the new Harman Kardon® Logic7® sound system. The passenger compartment is filled by a rich surround sound for crystal-clear listening pleasure of an unprecedented standard for a roadster.

To achieve this tremendous advance in sound quality, the SLK-Class is equipped with the Discrete Logic 7 technology of the very latest Harman Kardon surround sound system. This achieves a level of audio reproduction that stays perfectly true to the original, whether it be a modern 5.1 multi-channel recording or in traditional stereo.

At the heart of the system is a high-performance amplifier with a formidable total output of 500 watts and a digital signal processor (DSP), whose advanced computing power regulates the frequency response to deliver a high-fidelity experience of the very finest calibre in the passenger compartment. To do this, the benchmark audio system automatically adjusts both the volume of the individual speakers and the intensity of the transmitted frequencies differently, depending on whether the roof is open or closed. Regardless of the ambient conditions therefore, both driver and passenger can savour a natural, perfectly balanced sound that is a joy to even the most discerning ears. Naturally, the system also includes speed-sensitive volume adjustment.

Harman Kardon uses only top-grade, specially developed aluminium-diaphragm speakers for the new surround-sound system in the SLK. The speakers' diaphragms comprise a triple-layer sandwich structure with an aluminium base. This strikes the optimum balance between rigidity and weight for the diaphragms, resulting in a sensational sound. A total of eleven speakers are installed in the SLK to transform the Roadster into a mobile concert hall.

Voice control with whole-word commands

Together with the new telematics generation, Mercedes-Benz is also offering the now enhanced LINGUATRONIC voice-operated control system as an optional extra for the SLK for the first time. This allows particularly straightforward operation of the telephone, audio and navigation systems using whole-word commands. In short, this means that drivers no longer need to spell out their commands, they simply say what they want to do when entering a destination, choosing a radio station or selecting a name from the telephone directory.

During the brief dialogue, the sound signal is digitised, transformed into a frequency spectrum and then analysed. During this process, the computer extracts certain characteristics from the sound signal at lightning speed. Doing so allows it to recognise the phonemes, which are the acoustic building blocks of any given language. The electronics analyse each sound, join the different phonemes together, cross-reference them with the contents of the phonemic dictionary stored in the system and also determine the acoustic plausibility of the word, all in a matter of milliseconds. In this way, the system itself is able to detect the finest nuances in pronunciation, meaning that it can distinguish, for example, between the words "town" and "down". In all, the phonemes for six different languages have been loaded into the system.

Mercedes-Benz makes an important contribution to traffic safety too with LINGUATRONIC, as drivers no longer need to take their hands off the wheel to operate the car phone or audio equipment. This lessens the driver's workload, making it easier to concentrate on what's happening on the road ahead. In 1996, Mercedes-Benz became the very first automotive brand to offer such a system in its cars. The very first generation of the system only required 512 kilobytes of computer memory - today, the system takes up over ten megabytes!

Trendsetter with unrivalled technology

As trendsetters and technology leaders, the SLK-Class Roadsters have long enjoyed the image of a modern cult car. The facelift measures for the 2008 version have clearly enhanced the car's looks, its specification and, above all, its dynamic potential. The familiar outstanding qualities have been retained, however; the vario-roof, for example, that transforms the Roadster into a coupƩ in 22 seconds, not to mention the comprehensive standard specification, including head/thorax sidebags, adaptive front airbags and two-stage belt-force limiters. The Roadster also offers the option of the unique AIRSCARF neck-level heating system, which is integrated into the seat backrests and emits a flow of warm air from openings in the head restraints. By so doing, the patented AIRSCARF system acts like an invisible scarf which keeps the occupants' head and neck snug and warm. The SLK-Class is thereby able to promise open-top driving pleasure all year round, even in the winter months.

A host of personalisation options

Once again, the new-generation SLK-Class comes with an extensive list of personalisation options to choose from. This includes a sports package with either 18" 6-twin-spoke light-alloy wheels or AMG 18" 5-spoke light-alloy wheels, accompanied by a sports suspension, 17" perforated brake discs, an AMG spoiler lip on the boot lid and anthracite surrounds for the headlamps. Inside, the leather seats, armrest, shift/selector lever and leather-trimmed steering wheel, all with red topstitching, inject a sporty flair, as do the seat belts with their red belt straps.

Apart from this, there is the designo range with its broad spectrum of exclusive colours and materials, which underscore the two-seater's sporty nature in style.

New sports engine in the SLK 350: A touch of racing track atmosphere

High-revving concept, added power and considerably lower consumption

Higher compression ratio and reengineered valve train

Sporty engine sound for emotion-charged acoustics

Seven-speed automatic transmission with automatic double-declutching

The goal set for the developers of the new-generation SLK was quite simply - even more sportiness, even more dynamism, even more emotion. To put it in a nutshell: even more driving pleasure. Making a mighty contribution to this are three redeveloped power units which stand out for their reduced fuel consumption, meaning lower CO2 emissions too. Besides this, both the four-cylinder engine in the SLK 200 KOMPRESSOR and the six-cylinder unit in the SLK 350 benefit from a substantial increase in output and torque too. Only the SLK 55 AMG retains its familiar engine - an eight-cylinder unit that has lost none of its mesmerising performance capability and remains a unique selling point in the SLK segment.

The Mercedes-Benz engineers devoted particular attention to the V6 sports engine with high-revving concept, which is making its debut in the SLK 350. They were looking for much more than minor enhancements, substantially pepping up the six-cylinder unit's credentials by making extensive alterations to the mechanical setup. Three characteristics open up a new dimension in driving pleasure:

free-revving flexibility up to high engine speeds

a substantial increase in output

plus, a sporty sound that fires the emotions.

Brief spurts up to 7200 revs per minute

The 3.5-litre engine effortlessly races up to engine speeds normally well out of bounds for series-production engines in this displacement class. It attains its maximum output at 6500 rpm - if necessary, it is even capable of briefly spinning up to 7200 rpm. This outstanding free-revving flexibility has turned the six-cylinder unit into a thoroughbred sports engine.

Its sporty pedigree can be clearly sensed behind the wheel. The engine is a continuous presence: it comes across as bigger, more powerful than its predecessor and instantly responds to movements of the accelerator pedal, conjuring up a touch of racing track atmosphere in the cockpit without any trace of strain or agitation. Quite the contrary: the smooth running characteristics under the full spectrum of operating conditions have remained perfectly intact.

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Related entries:

OFFICIAL: Mercedes-Benz SLK Facelift Unveiled
Mercedes SLK Facelift Keeps its F1 Nose


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