Stuttgart - With three world premieres at the Detroit Auto Show (8 to 21 January 2001), Mercedes-Benz is getting 2001 off to a flying start and is demonstrating its leading role as the most active and innovative premium manufacturer on the world market.
The spotlight is on the unveiling of the new C-class estate. Starting in March 2001, this car will not only build on the huge success of the previous compact Mercedes estate but, from September 2001, is also right on course to set a new estate trend in North America.
High-tech supercharged engines with superb performance and exceptional handling characterise the two other Mercedes world premieres: with the C 32 AMG and the SLK 32 AMG, whose identical V6 engines deliver 260 kW / 354 hp, Mercedes-Benz is setting a new benchmark in the compact high-performance saloon and roadster sector. Both models underline their outstanding position on the automobile market with an innovative automatic transmission with SPEEDSHIFT configuration that combines the advantages of a five-speed automatic transmission with the dynamism of a manual transmission.
"It is said that a successful year starts with a successful appearance at the Detroit Auto Show - a claim which is certainly borne out by the record results which the Mercedes-Benz brand has enjoyed in the wake of its spectacular model premieres over recent years. Our aim is to maintain this momentum in 2001. The three models making their world debut in Detroit underline our firm commitment to continuing our product initiative and consolidating our position as the world's most dynamic and innovative premium manufacturer," stated Professor Jürgen Hubbert, the member of the DaimlerChrysler Board of Management responsible for the Mercedes-Benz and smart brands, as he outlined the ambitious plans for the new year. "Detroit is just the beginning: three more major new models will follow in the course of 2001 -- the year which marks the 100th anniversary of the Mercedes-Benz brand."
Estate: design and functionality in perfect harmony
The new estate version completes the young, progressive model family of the Mercedes-Benz C-class. In addition to the sporty, elegant design and high-quality standard equipment, the saloon, sports coupé and estate feature a number of trailblazing technical innovations unprecedented in this market sector. In March 2001 both the new estate and the sports coupé will appear in the showrooms of European Mercedes-Benz branches and dealerships. For the first time, Mercedes-Benz is also offering this attractive estate car in the USA, as of September 2001, with the aim of setting a trend for intelligent, multifunctional and compact vehicles.
The youthful dynamism of the new estate is above all expressed in the long, highly distinctive shape of its roof, whose boldly flowing lines drop sharply at the rear to merge into the extremely oblique-angled roof pillars. The outstanding characteristics of all the new C-class models, such as typical Mercedes levels of safety, exemplary handling and high quality, are supplemented by excellent functionality and variability in the interior. The estate offers not only a fully folding rear seat system and a load volume of 1384 litres as standard, but also a newly-developed, easily operated luggage cover with integral safety net, a removable shopping box in the spare wheel recess and additional stowage compartments in the luggage space, which are separated from the rest of the luggage compartment by practical nets. The whole rear area is fitted with high-quality carpet.
The new C-class estate illustrates to perfection the aim of Mercedes-Benz to produce a vehicle in which saloon-like, dynamic design and maximum functionality are combined in perfect harmony. This makes the new estate much more than just a classic estate, but rather a distinct model type within the dynamic C-class family.
The wide range of standard features of the new estate, which is available in three design and equipment lines, includes a multifunction steering wheel with illuminated buttons, Headlamp Assist, power windows at front and rear, electric seat height and backrest adjustment, cruise control with the SPEEDTRONIC function and power-assisted steering. The high level of occupant protection typical of a Mercedes is provided by adaptive airbags for the driver and front passenger, high-performance belt tensioners, belt force limiters, windowbags and sidebags in the front doors. The Electronic Stability Program (ESP®) and Brake Assist are also standard features of this new estate car.
Numerous high-tech systems from the top-of-the-line Mercedes-Benz saloons are available as optional extras. These range from COMAND, the innovative operating and display system with a navigation system and TV receiver, to the LINGUATRONIC voice-control system for a telephone and radio, or from the sensor-controlled luxury automatic climate control system THERMOTRONIC to modern telematics services.
Two engines are being premiered in the C-class estate: the smooth-running 3.2-litre V6 (160 kW/218 hp) and the high-torque 2.7-litre CDI powerplant (125 kW/170 hp). The output of the two other direct-injection diesels has been increased by up to 14 percent, as compared with the preceding model, to 85 kW/116 hp in the new C 200 CDI and to 105 kW/143 hp in the C 220 CDI. The torque of these diesel engines has even been improved by up to 43 percent.
C 32 AMG: driving dynamism and top-rate performance have a new name
Like the new C-class estate, the high-performance C 32 AMG saloon will leave the starting blocks in the spring of 2001. An output of 260 kW/354 hp, a torque of 450 Newton metres and a braking distance of less than 36 metres from a speed of 100 km/h - these are just some of the impressive credentials of this ultradynamic power machine that sets new standards for vehicles in its class and which also by far outstrips the figures of its predecessor, the C 43 AMG.
The impressive power output is down to a V6 engine from the world of motorsport that was developed by Mercedes AMG; it has high-tech components that can withstand the severest of stresses. The centrepiece of the six-cylinder is an innovative helical supercharger that builds up high boost pressure even at low speeds and thus ensures impressive torque characteristics. In figures: from just 2300 rpm, about 90 percent of the maximum torque is available - this is more than 400 Newton metres. The new C 32 AMG accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h in just 5.2 seconds and thus catapults itself straight into the performance category of thoroughbred racing cars.
The engine also meets the highest requirements in terms of fuel economy and ecology: despite its high performance, the C 32 AMG only consumes 11.5 litres of fuel per 100 kilometres (NEDC fuel consumption) and, thanks to state-of-the-art catalyst technology, it meets the strict EU-4 emission limits which become valid in 2005.
Automatic transmission with SPEEDSHIFT offers exceptional driving dynamism
Maintaining the dynamism made possible by a manual transmission whilst offering the driving comfort of a five-speed automatic transmission - these were the development objectives for the new automatic transmission with SPEEDSHIFT that is standard in the C 32 AMG. It combines the advantages of a five-speed automatic transmission with the dynamism of a manual transmission and ensures that the high-performance saloon responds perfectly to the accelerator in every situation. Thanks to SPEEDSHIFT, the driver need only nudge the automatic lever to the left and the transmission immediately selects the best gear for powerful acceleration, depending on speed and characteristic engine data. Similarly, once a specific degree of deceleration has been initiated, the automatic transmission automatically shifts down, always selecting the right gear for the situation in hand, so that the driver can quickly get the C 32 AMG back up to speed. On the other hand, when cornering at speed, the transmission remains in the selected gear, thus preventing unwanted load-change effects.
Sports chassis for superb road contact and maximum safety
Despite overall tuning that is geared to comfort, the chassis of the new C 32 AMG also fulfils the wishes of those drivers with a decidedly sporty driving style for optimum road contact and high cornering stability. Damper struts and gas-filled shock absorbers from Mercedes-AMG, as well as specially developed torsion-bar stabilisers on the front and rear axles, make this ideal suspension engineering compromise possible. The body of the C 32 AMG is approximately 30 mm lower than the standard C 320.
In addition to the standard electronic stability program ESP® with Brake Assist and acceleration skid control (ASR), the large ventilated disc brakes at both front and rear make for greater road safety. The braking distance from 100 km/h is less than 36 metres.
AMG styling and exclusive interior ensure a powerful impact
The design of the new C 32 AMG, which is as distinctive as it is striking, links it unmistakably with the other high-performance automobiles bearing the Mercedes-AMG GmbH name. The powerful sweep of the front air dam with its integral fog lights, the special side-skirt panels and the muscular rear apron leave no doubt as to the dynamic qualities of the new saloon. The overall effect is completed by the distinctive rear silencer with the characteristic AMG "dual oval" chrome tailpipe. The new sterling silver-coloured 17-inch alloy wheels with the twin-spoke design also characterise the powerful presence of the unique saloon.
Sporty exclusivity dominates in the interior. The new leather sports steering wheel ensures that drivers always have this high-performance saloon right where they want it and the powerfully contoured sports seats also provide them with optimum lateral support on fast bends. High-quality, two-tone nappa leather makes being in the C 32 AMG an even greater delight, lending the atmosphere an air of further refinement.
SLK 32 AMG: new top performer amongst the compact roadsters
From spring 2001, Mercedes-AMG will also be introducing a new dimension to the compact roadster sector in the form of a new high-performance car with innovative top technology and sporty styling: the SLK 32 AMG. Thanks to the powerful 260 KW/354 hp V6 supercharged engine and other technological highlights, the open two-seater with the smart vario roof is ahead of its competitors by more than just a nose, and it cannot fail to impress with its new, unprecedented peak figures: a maximum torque of 450 Newton metres is on tap from 4400 rpm, it accelerates from a standing start to 100 km/h in 5.2 seconds, has exemplary exhaust values in compliance with the EU-4 emission limits and has outstanding braking performance.
Yet despite these first-class values, the SLK 32 AMG burns an average of just 11.2 litres of fuel per 100 kilometres (NEDC overall consumption).
Automatic transmission with SPEEDSHIFT and sports chassis with high-performance brakes
The new high-performance roadster lines up at the starting grid with the same technical innovations as the C 32 AMG. This includes the innovative automatic transmission with SPEEDSHIFT function, which is particularly suited to the sporty character of the SLK 32 AMG and which, in combination with the supercharger engine, offers a unique drive package.
The sophisticated innovations in the chassis include a new spring/damper configuration, a wider rear track width and a larger torsion bar on the front axle. Thanks to their large diameter, the four ventilated disc brakes achieve an impressive 10.5 metres per second2 of deceleration and, at full braking from 100 kilometres per hour, bring the dynamic two-seater to a standstill in less than 36 metres. The sterling silver-coloured 17-inch AMG light-alloy wheels with their twin-spoke design are also completely new.
Expressive body design and exclusive interior
The body styling of the new SLK 32 AMG gives it a character all of its own. As with all high-performance vehicles in the Mercedes-AMG range, the focus when developing the body parts was on creating a unique shape whilst achieving top aerodynamic performance. And the results are certainly something to be proud of: re-designed front and rear aprons, sporty side skirts and an elegantly integrated airflow breakaway edge on the boot lid, which reduces the lift on the rear axle by more than 50 per cent.
The striking AMG design is continued in the interior: sports seats with integrated head restraints, designed especially for the high-performance roadster, ensure superb lateral support as well as high levels of comfort on long journeys. Both seats and door panels are covered with two-tone leather as standard, the same sophisticated material that is to be found on the AMG sports steering wheel and gear knob. The panelling on the centre console made of high-quality, dark bird's eye maple is another visual highlight in the interior. The individually designed, silver-coloured dials of the instrument cluster, whose speedometer shows speeds of up to 300 km/h, are also typical of Mercedes-AMG.