Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Mercedes-Benz Reveals Tech Info

Since 1954, MercedesBenz has released five generations of its luxury “Sport Leicht” (that’s German for Sport Lightweight) roadster, or as well all know it, the SL-Class. Now the time has come for the introduction of the sixth generation SL – and it’s not a moment too soon as the current model has been in the market since 2001 having received two facelifts, one in 2006 and the other in 2008.
Over the past year, we scooped the 2013 SL several times and even published photos of its body-in-white that recently made their way onto the web. But now, the Stuttgart-based carmaker has come out in the open, officially revealing a batch of photos and info on its new roadster that will be unveiled before the end of the year.
Though Mercedes doesn’t actually show us the finished product, the company gives us new photos shot during the development phase and more importantly, a detailed insight on some of the new SL’s novel features.
For the first time, the new SL is constructed almost entirely (89%) from aluminum, with the exception of high-strength steel integrated in the A-pillars and the (even lighter than aluminum) magnesium in the rear panel.
Mercedes claims that, thanks to the new technology, the new model is up to 140 kg (309 lbs) lighter than its predecessor: “The effect is rather as if a heavyweight-class passenger had got out of the car and taken his heavy flight luggage, too”, says the man responsible for the aluminum bodyshell, Thomas Rudlaff.
"The result is perceptible and measureable. Less weight means more dynamism and less consumption. In other words, the motoring enjoyment increases and the environmental burned sinks,” Rudlaff added.
The new aluminum chassis provides better rigidity, increased passive safety and reduced NVH (noise, vibration, harshness) levels over the previous SL’s steel architecture thanks in part, to the use of different kinds of aluminum made by chill or vacuum die casting that were worked into extruded sections or plates of different thickness.
More specifically, the bodyshell is 20% more rigid than the steel one used in the preceding series. It is made up of 44% cast aluminium, 17% aluminium sections, 28% aluminium sheet metal, 8% steel and 3% of other materials.
By definition, cars are not the ideal places for audiophiles to enjoy the perfect acoustic experience. Roadsters even less so, especially with the top down. Mercedes says it has solved this problem in the 2013 SL by introducing a standard FrontBass system. This is not just a fancy name for a top-of-the-line audio unit (although a Harman Kardon Logic 7 surround sound system is indeed optional), but something completely different.
In the new SL, the bass loudspeakers are not placed in the doors, as is the common practice, but in the footwell in front of the driver and the passenger, in two openings on either side of the firewall. Thus, the chassis itself is used as a resonance chamber, minimizing distortion and providing a crisper sound – and, at the same time, using less energy, therefore contributing to the reduction of CO2 emissions.
Norbert Niemczyk, who was responsible for the new FrontBass system, explains: "Our objective was not mere sound volume – although in this respect, too, the system performs amazingly – but a clear sound instead, one that never becomes ‘mushy’. We have achieved this. All those who experienced the sound with the FrontBass system for the first time got out of the car with a big smile on their face – in-house we call that ‘the FrontBass smile’."
Another novel feature of the SL is what Mercedes calls Magic Vision Control. It’s a new windshield wiper system that sends water into two channels integrated along the wiper blades that feature laser-cut openings. Mercedes says that the windshield is cleaned much more efficiently, without leaving any smears or dirt that is a common problem with conventional systems.
And that’s not all: the innovative windshield cleaning system is electronically controlled and features three programs. In “summer” mode, smaller quantities of water are used to remove light dirt, while the “winter” mode uses a higher volume of water mixed with de-icing salt.
Since this is a roadster, there is also a “cabriolet” mode which ensures that water is sprayed on the downward stroke of the wiper blade, thus avoiding spraying the car’s driver and passenger when the roof is open.
Being electronically controlled, the system also operates of its own accord, regardless of the season: for example, if the windshield is badly soiled it will use the “winter” mode even if it’s the middle of summer.
The new SL will make its world premiere at the Detroit Motor Show in January, but Mercedes-Benz will most likely release more details and official photos before the end of the year.


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