Mercedes Benz At The North American International Auto Show 2004 | Part Five

In order to meet the highest of standards in terms of handling at high speed, directional stability and the cooling-air requirements for high-performance cars of this kind, Mercedes Benz worked with McLaren on developing this model's superlative aerodynamics. The result is exemplary road holding plus the on-road safety standards for which Mercedes Benz is renowned. Following extensive wind-tunnel tests, the Mercedes Benz SLR McLaren was given a virtually smooth underbody with a special six-channel diffuser under the rear. Both features are familiar design principles from Formula 1. They ensure that the airflow beneath the vehicle is virtually unimpeded and that negative lift, or downforce, is produced at higher speeds.

Additional downforce is provided by the adaptive spoiler at the rear of the SLR. From a speed of 95 km/h, it automatically adopts a 10-degree position, increasing the contact pressure at the rear axle. The spoiler also doubles as an air brake.

Safety: high-tech materials from the world of Formula 1

The SLR McLaren is made almost entirely from carbon-fibre composite (CFRP). This lightweight yet extremely rigid material originated in the aeronautical and space industries and has also proven its benefits in today's Formula-1 race cars. The weight advantage of this high-tech material over steel is around 50 per cent. In addition, the carbon fibres are characterised by four to five times higher energy absorption than steel and aluminium in the event of an impact. Mercedes Benz therefore uses two 620-mm side member elements made from carbon fibre in the front structure of the SLR. These elements absorb all the crash energy in the defined frontal impact test.

The occupant compartment is also made entirely of CFRP, thus ensuring that the survival space remains largely intact, i.e. undamaged, even in the event of a side or rear impact. Adaptive airbags, newly developed kneebags and sidebags as well as belt tensioners round off the comprehensive safety equipment package.

Mercedes Benz also uses groundbreaking technology to produce the brake discs. They are made of fibre-reinforced ceramic, which gives them extreme fade-resistance and great durability. In addition, the brakes work in tandem with the electrohydraulic brake system Sensotronic Brake Control (SBC™) to ensure exceptional deceleration rates which impressively underline the race-car character of the Mercedes Benz SLR McLaren.

E 320 CDI: diesel premiere in the US

The six-cylinder E 320 CDI Saloon is the latest diesel model to be unveiled in the US by Mercedes Benz – the brand with the greatest tradition and most impressive expertise of all when it comes to producing diesel engines for passenger cars. The Stuttgart-based manufacturer believes its powerful and economical CDI models have an excellent chance of success in the American market – and not just among loyal diesel customers.

Developing 150 kW/204 hp (U.S.: 201 hp), the direct-injection diesel engine produces its peak torque of 500 Nm (369 lb-ft) from just 1800 rpm. It combines excellent acceleration and impressive pulling power with an exemplary fuel consumption of only 6.9 litres per 100 km (total NEDC consumption) and achieves in the American test procedure around 35 mpg*. In everyday operation, it is therefore far superior to comparable vehicles with gasoline or hybrid drive systems.

Published 20 December 2003 Melanie Carter

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