Mercedes-Benz SLK Vario-roof and body


Vario-roof and body Innovative technology with a unique roof concept

Driving a roadster is a wonderful emotional experience. Gliding through the landscape and its many sounds and smells at the wheel of an agile sports car, with the top down and the sun shining, awakens intensive and joyous feelings. In a Mercedes-Benz SLK, even rainy weather does little to mar this pleasure. Ever since the launch of the first SLK in 1996, this has been ensured by a vario-roof which converts the roadster into a coupé with a fixed roof at the touch of a button, and in just a few seconds. Since then, Mercedes-Benz engineers have constantly refined the vario-roof even further and maintained the SLK’s pioneering role in this technology.

Mercedes Benz SLK

Unique item of equipment: MAGIC SKY CONTROL

For the first time, Mercedes-Benz is offering a choice between three variants
of the lightweight vario-roof for the SLK:

  • The base version is a tinted panoramic vaio-roof
  • Alternatively there is the option of a panoramic vario-roof with tinted polycarbonate.
  • The third variant is a world premiere – the panoramic vario-roof with MAGIC SKY CONTROL. This glass roof switches to light or dark as required at the press of a button. When light it is virtually transparent, offering an open-air experience even in cold weather. In its dark state the roof provides welcome shade and prevents the interior from heating up when the sun’s rays are very intense. In other words:
    a feel-good atmosphere at the touch of a button

The operating principle is based on the physics of a plate condenser: if the glass structure is subjected to an electrical voltage, particles in the structure position themselves so that light is able to pass through the glass. If the voltage remains switched off, however, the particles position themselves randomly. This partially blocks the light, and the glass remains dark. The control unit and converter are integrated into the front section of the roof, and the switch is in the overhead control console.

In addition to the unique panoramic effect and transparency at the touch of a button, MAGIC SKY CONTROL also provides a top-class feel-good atmosphere. UV and infrared light are also effectively blocked in transparent mode, while insulation increases even more significantly and noticeably in darkened mode, thereby helping to keep the temperature on interior parts such as armrests cooler by up to 10 degrees Celsius compared with conventional tinted glass.

Measurements using a device called a star pyranometer in Death Valley, one of the world’s hottest places, impressively demonstrated the effect. This device measures the intensity of exposure to sunlight. With an open roof, the thermal load from the sun in the heat of Death Valley reached 1000 to 1100 W per square metre. With the transparent glass roof it dropped to 200 W, and when the roof was switched to darkened mode with MAGIC SKY CONTROL, it dropped to 40 to 50 W – one 20th of the original value and less than a 60 watt bulb.

Since the innovative glass also shields against the sun’s rays far more effectively than conventional thermal insulation glass or sunblinds, the occupants of the new SLK also enjoy the highest level of climatic comfort. When driving with the roof open would be unpleasant owing to intense heat, the driver and front passenger are able to relax under the MAGIC SKY CONTROL roof – an important contribution to onboard comfort and the driver-fitness safety typical of a Mercedes. Even when the vehicle is at a standstill the interior does not overheat, since the roof is switched to darkened mode when powered off.

But MAGIC SKY CONTROL not only benefits passengers. Some of the strain is also taken off the air-conditioning system, thereby saving on CO2 emissions.

In addition, the frame of the three roof variants is now of magnesium. This makes each roof around six kilograms lighter than in the previous model, giving the car a lower centre of gravity.

The engineers have also refined the operating mechanism for the roof and boot lid. It now takes less than 20 seconds to open or close the roof completely. The improved mechanism mainly benefits the boot capacity.

Boot fully suitable for everyday use

The luggage capacity with the vario-roof closed is 335 litres (in conjunction with TIREFIT). This is enough to accommodate two crates of soft drinks and two crates of beer, or four of either, without difficulty. A golf bag or a large suitcase are also no problem.

When the roof is opened, the capacity is reduced by 110 to 225 litres. This includes 51 litres of luggage box capacity under a reversible floor (the box is omitted if a collapsible spare wheel is chosen instead of TIREFIT). In any case there is sufficient space for two large sports bags, for example with tennis equipment.

The luggage box or collapsible spare wheel is accessible if the variably usable reversible floor is removed. Depending on the application, it provides a level surface or a recess for carrying e.g. high drinks crates. The draught-stop or an umbrella can be secured with elastic straps on either side of the reversible floor.

To prevent luggage items from colliding with the roof components while these are being deposited in the boot, there is a luggage cover in the boot which can be pivoted longitudinally. The vario-roof can only be opened if this cover is pivoted to the rear, and when the roof is closed the cover can be easily pivoted forward by hand. This facilitates loading and unloading, and makes the full boot capacity available.

Images of the Mercedes-Benz SLK