Mercedes-Benz GLK Townside Concept

The GLK Freeside Concept and GLK Townside Concept are two breeds of the same vehicle which are set to take the SUV world by storm. The GLK Freeside Concept and GLK Townside Concept provide a stylistically sound preview of a future compact SUV model bursting with character, whose sense of fascination stems from the way in which it fuses different design worlds. The two studies incorporate elements taken from the original angular design of the G-Class, whilst at the same time impressing with design features typical of today's Mercedes-Benz passenger cars. Both stem from the same gene pool, yet each distinguishes itself with a personality all of its own. These two automotive characters are receiving their baptism of fire at the NAIAS in Detroit. In the words of Dr. Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG: "The GLK Freeside Concept and Townside reveal new possibilities for the logical progression of our extremely successful model strategy in the SUV segment."

Borrowing from the styling of the precursor of all Mercedes-Benz SUV models confers a special status on both the Freeside and Townside. As Head of Design Professor Peter Pfeiffer neatly sums up: "With the G-Class we created a style icon that has been a yardstick for nearly 30 years now. Unifying this puristic design with the new Mercedes-Benz design idiom is what makes the two Vision GLK variants genuine characters in their own right."

And indeed, never before has it been possible to enjoy such a strikingly expressive preview of a forthcoming compact SUV model. The interplay between the original angular design and the design features typical of all modern Mercedes-Benz passenger cars exerts an enthralling appeal. The clear-cut design idiom, where taut lines interact with large, overextended surfaces, coincides with the bodyshell attributes of practical off-road vehicles, including short overhangs, a vertical front end, slender A-pillars, a steeply angled windscreen and flat roof lines. Specially manufactured 20-inch light-alloy wheels, adapted in each case to reflect the differing characters of the Freeside and Townside, inject the bodies of the two Vision GLK models with extra power and vibrancy, as do the muscular contours of the wheel arches.

The bodywork's styling is far from being a means to an end in itself, however, rather it allows the benefits that are typically associated with off-road vehicles to be transferred for the first time to the more on-road-orientated, compact SUV class. Large angles of approach and departure coupled to generous ground clearance make excursions off the beaten track a pleasurable experience. The fact that the driver enjoys both an excellent overview of the body and a good all-round view courtesy of the raised seating position boosts everyday practicality and guarantees relaxed motoring, even when driving in dense city traffic.

Artfully setting off the persuasive design concept of the Vision GLK models are two special-effect paint finishes. "Diamond white magno" a metallic paint finish with a matt clear coat, gives the Freeside an extravagant flair. On top of this, detachable body parts finished in gleaming sterling silver generate an intriguing contrast. The Townside is resplendent in "Alubeam blue", a special high-gloss reflective paint finish of unprecedented depth which emphasizes the body's sporty qualities.

The interior of the SUV studies is a seamless continuation of the exterior's bold looks, serving up a surprising interaction of stylistic contrasts that is generated by the juxtaposition of two quite different design approaches. On the one hand, both Vision GLK models offer an upmarket and luxurious interior, boasting materials of exquisite appeal plus precision build quality down to the finest detail. At the same time, however, the sophisticated surface finishes transfer the contemporary Mercedes design into the interior. The orchestrating element here, due to its dominant styling, is the dashboard, whose form sweeps on into the door trims, lending additional width to the generously proportioned interior. It is impossible to overlook the elegant strip of trim elements which extends across the dashboard's entire width, dividing the base structure into three vertically arranged levels. On the Freeside, this element is dominated by matt-finish anthracite-colored cebrano wood with a white grain, along with a perfectly positioned seam of chrome. In the Townside, brushed aluminium appears here to underline the dynamic character.

The Vision GLK studies are powered by a brand new generation of diesel engines. The four-cylinder 2.2-litre unit furthers the basic dynamic driving concept of the automotive siblings, and is capable of generating exhilarating performance from its output of 125 kW/170 hp whilst at the same time cutting fuel consumption and emission figures. Technical highlights of the extremely compact and smooth-running CDI powerplant with rearward camshaft drive include the fourth-generation common-rail direct injection with an injection pressure of 2000 bar, as well as a two-stage turbocharger system.

The modular BLUETEC emission control system has been further enhanced by Mercedes-Benz, and is now being combined in its most efficient form for the very first time with a four-cylinder engine. "BLUETEC gives us a technology that makes it possible for us to combine the high efficiency and impressive torque of modern diesel engines with extremely low emissions - a perfect propulsion unit for a compact SUV like the GLK," declares Dr Thomas Weber, member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and responsible for corporate research and the development of Mercedes-Benz Cars. The focus of BLUETEC technology is on minimizing emissions of nitrogen oxides. These are the sole component of exhaust gases whose levels are higher in diesel engines than in their petrol-powered counterparts due to their operating principle. The oxidizing catalytic converter and maintenance-free particulate filter are supplemented by a SCR catalytic converter. AdBlue, a harmless aqueous solution of urea, is injected into the exhaust stream.

The new 4MATIC all-wheel-drive system featured in the GLK Freeside Concept and GLK Townside Concept is one of the most proficient of its kind. The basic concept, with the engine installed longitudinally and the transmission and transfer case designed as a single block, produces a compact and lightweight arrangement that minimises frictional losses, as well as heralding a number of further benefits compared to other systems where the drive unit is installed crossways. The upshot of this is that fuel consumption is on a par with that of a comparable model with conventional two-wheel drive. Vibration and acoustic comfort are of a standard normally found in today's luxury models.

The basic 45:55 split of drive torque between the front and rear wheels combines with the ESP®, ASR and 4ETS dynamic handling control systems to produce supremely assured and perfectly predictable driving characteristics under all conditions. Optimum traction is assured at all times, along with maximum directional stability and flawless handling. The newly developed multiple-disc clutch in the centre differential comes to the system's aid when friction between the tires and ground is particularly low, for example when driving over snow or ice. A basic interaxle lock of 50 Newton metres gives a boost to traction, without any loss of handling stability.

The AGILITY CONTROL suspension fitted in the Vision GLK studies succeeds in resolving a conflict of aims that afflicts the SUV segment especially: this is because the chassis engineers seek to create a vehicle that is as sporty and agile as it is comfortable and smooth, plus, at the same time, capable of travelling off-road. If the focus is placed on sporty, dynamic handling, there must be a certain firmness about the tuning of the suspension and particularly the shock absorbers, which both precludes the desired ride comfort typical of the Mercedes-Benz brand and imposes restrictions on the vehicle's abilities in off-road terrain. If, on the other hand, the vehicle is purpose-built for ride comfort and off-road expertise by fitting softer dampers, its driving dynamics will of course suffer. "Amplitude-responsive damping" provides the solution: here, the shock absorber's smoothing forces are of a flexible nature, rather than having a rigid setting. During normal driving along moderately contoured roads or off-road excursions at low speeds, the system is tuned for soft response to the benefit of the occupants' sense of wellbeing and the vehicle's off-road abilities. In order to keep the occupants feeling at their ease when driving at a brisker pace or performing abrupt evasive manoeuvres, the dampers switch to a firmer setting in such situations to ensure maximum handling stability. At the same time, the driver of the Vision GLK can count on the support of the speed-sensitive steering, which provides the optimum level of power assistance as the situation changes. The system therefore makes light work of parking or off-road manoeuvres by maximizing power assistance. As the speed increases, however, assistance is reduced in favor of greater directional stability.

Source: Mercedes-Benz press

Gallery: Mercedes-Benz GLK Townside Concept