At the North American International Auto Show in January, Mercedes-Benz showed a design study entitled the Vision GST - a study which embodies a totally new vehicle concept.
The abbreviation GST stands for "Grand Sports Tourer" (something Mercedes may need to reconsider for a land where the other GST - the Goods and Services Tax - is still fresh and often doesn't conjure happy images). It describes an original, new vehicle category which brings together features from established car concepts, combining them to create a new, independent profile: the Vision GST is Saloon, Estate, MPV and Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV) in one - but, above all, the study is a car with an unprecedented feel which gives new meaning to the concept of long-distance driving pleasure.
The Mercedes Grand Sports Tourer is designed to open up a new market for large sized, high performance vehicles. Though the most striking external feature is sleek styling six seats and butterfly doors, the highlight is the 265kW 5.5l AMG V8 donk.
Elegant design with echoes of a sports car
The Vision GST is Mercedes-Benz's response to the frequently voiced demand for a stylish, active and technologically sophisticated car to suit every occasion - for a car which offers plenty of space for the family, leisure equipment, travel needs or work, but at the same time delivers outstanding handling and supreme performance. In the design study these qualities are ensured by a sophisticated design, coupled with groundbreaking technological innovations from the Mercedes range and a high-performance, high-torque AMG engine.
The dynamic looks are dominated, above all, by the striking roof line, which links the A and C-pillars in a gentle curve. It emphasises the elongated silhouette of the vehicle study and indicates, in no uncertain terms, that under this spacious body-work beats a thoroughly sporty heart. The large, 22-inch wheels and the wedge-shaped side profile reinforce this impression.
At roof level, a large area of special electrochromic glass extends from the front windscreen to the rear, and the occupants can alter the tint at the touch of a button according to the intensity of the sun. Equally striking are the side windows of the design study: omitting the B-pillar has created a large area of glass, reinforcing the sporty appearance of the vehicle. Butterfly doors are a further highlight of the Mercedes study. They open is opposite directions, each at an angle of 90 degrees, offering unique ease of access and opening up new design possibilities for the interior.
Fine-quality, hand-crafted materials such as wood, leather and aluminium underline the exclusive feel of the interior of the Vision GST. A sophisticated lighting concept with a new type of illuminated strip in the roof liner, in the door panels and on the centre tunnel reinforces the luxurious atmosphere. There are comfortable, electrically adjustable individual seats for the driver and both front and the rear passengers, with an integral belt system. A third row of seats for two further passengers is also available in the rear, which means that the Vision GST can comfortably seat a total of six.
The eye-catching feature of the instrument panel is a centre console which appears to hover in mid-air. It consists of two aluminium panels and tinted glass and houses the colour screen, CD player, car radio and a large proportion of the control elements. The monitor belongs to the navigation system; it is controlled by a new type of software, which projects direction arrows, road maps and the graphic display elements onto the display with a three-dimensional effect. The blue, gleaming cockpit instruments also make use of this cutting-edge display technology. An entertainment system with a DVD player and video games is available for the rear passengers.
Beneath the bonnet of the Vision GST is a 265-kW/360-hp 5.5-litre V8 engine from Mercedes-AMG. Other technical highlights of the vehicle study include the electronically controlled 4-ETS four-wheel drive system used in the M-Class and G-Class, the AIRMATIC air suspension system and the new high-pressure brake system, Sensotronic Brake Control (SBC). The large brake discs are made from carbon-fibre-reinforced ceramics. Occupant protection is enhanced by the new safety system, PRE-SAFE, which detects the threat of a collision in advance and activates the belt tensioners before impact.
The new Mercedes-Benz SL-Class will be making its first public appearance in North America at the Auto Show in Detroit. The exciting two-seater celebrated its world premiere in July 2001 and has been available from European Mercedes-Benz sales and service outlets and dealerships since autumn last year. With cutting-edge electronic dynamic handling systems such as ABC, ESP(r) and SBC, working in combination for the first time, the new SL-Class sets new standards in the field of active safety. No other series-produced car offers as many groundbreaking innovations in terms of suspension and braking technology as this Mercedes Roadster. The new Mercedes-Benz SL-Class is the first car world-wide to be fitted as standard with the electrohydraulic brake system, Sensotronic Brake Control (SBC).
The external design of the new SL 500 reflects the cutting-edge technology of this sports car while also evoking the fun and excitement of open-top driving. The designers have included discreet, yet effective echoes of the original 1954 model on which this series was based, ensuring a continuation of the tradition-rich history of the SL-Class.
The perfect integration of the newly developed vario-roof also illustrates the high design quality of the new SL-Class, exuding the same messages with open or closed roof: pure driving pleasure and a unique elegance.
To ensure a dynamic sports car experience, the SL-Class is fitted with a powerful V8 engine which develops an output of 225 kW/306 hp and torque of 460 Newton metres from a five-litre displacement. It is among the most powerful engines in this vehicle class, complies with the stringent exhaust gas restrictions specified in the EU4 standard and accelerates the new SL 500 from 0 to 100 km/h in just 6.3 seconds.
The SL 55 AMG offers an even higher output. Beneath the bonnet is a V8 super-charged engine which delivers 350 kW/476 hp. This makes the Roadster the most powerful model in the current range of Mercedes cars. The engine delivers a maximum torque of 700 Newton metres from a mere 2650 rpm, a value which represents the top performance among V8 sports cars. The SL 55 AMG accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h in just 4.7 seconds.