Luxury touring in a distinctive format: Vision GST, Vision GST 2 and Vision R
Vehicle 1: Vision GST
When: January 2002
Where: North American International Auto Show, Detroit
Vehicle 2: Vision GST 2
When: January 2004
Where: North American International Auto Show, Detroit
Vehicle 3: Vision R
When: September 2004
Where: Paris Motor Show
What: Large, comfortable, six-seater tourer combining features of a sedan, station wagon, MPV and sport-utility vehicle
- Vision GST: eight-cylinder gasoline engine, 5.5 liter displacement, 265 kW (360 hp), four-wheel drive, six-speed automatic transmission
- Vision GST 2: hybrid drive eight-cylinder diesel engine with 4.0 liter displacement and 184 kW (250 hp), combined with a 50 kW electric motor four-wheel drive, six-speed automatic transmission
- Vision R: V6 diesel engine with 3.0 liter displacement, 160 kW (218 hp), four-wheel drive, 7G-TRONIC seven-speed automatic transmission
- Hybrid drive (diesel engine and electric motor) in Vision GST 2
- Butterfly doors without an intervening B-pillar, opening to a maximum angle of 90 degrees (Vision GST)
- Electrochromic roof (Vision GST) -> introduced 2002 in the Maybach (W 240)
- Interior lighting concept: luminescent films in the ceiling, doors and the lower areas of the transmission tunnel (Vision GST)
- "Floating" interior: concealed mounting of the transmission tunnel and seats (Vision GST)
- Seats and doors upholstered in a combination of fabric and leather using a new technique (Vision GST)
- Rear-seat entertainment system comprising two eight-inch color monitors with CD/DVD player and digital TV receiver for passengers in the second row of seats and a swivel-mounted color monitor and additional CD/DVD player for passengers in the third row
- Four-wheel drive with 4ETS electronically controlled traction system
- PRESAFE advance occupant protection system -> introduced 2003 in the Mercedes-Benz S-Class (W 220)
- Sensotronic Brake Control (SBC) electrohydraulic brake system -> introduced 2001 as Sensotronic Brake Control (SBC) in the Mercedes-Benz SL (R 230)
- Twin xenon projector-beam headlamps incorporating Fresnel lenses to focus the dipped and high beams
- LED daytime lights and turn signals illuminate the entire area of the headlamp (Vision GST and Vision GST 2)
- Active brake lights
- Sequential LED turn signals (Vision GST and Vision GST 2)
Since 2002, three different versions of a Mercedes-Benz concept car have been introducing the public to a new vehicle segment which looks all set for a promising future. The company presented Vision GST at the Detroit Auto Show in January 2002. Exactly two years later, also in Detroit, it presented a modified and further refined version, Vision GST 2. Thirdly, at the Paris Motor Show 2004, "Vision R" made its debut. At the same time development of the production version was also in full swing. It is scheduled to start coming off the line at the end of 2004 a good example of how thin the dividing line is between a Mercedes concept car and a marketable vehicle.
The three letters "GST" stand not only for "Grand Sports Tourer" basically a large and comfortable vehicle with excellent touring qualities but also for a new world and a new motoring experience. The fact that this vehicle was first presented in the US was intentional. The American market is traditionally very fond of spacious, comfortable cars, although these normally fit within conventional concepts such as sedans, station wagons, MPVs and sport-utility vehicles (SUVs). Vision GST was different however, combining the best features of all these concepts into one vehicle. Right from the debut of the first concept at the Detroit Auto Show 2002, the public response was massive. From this moment on, the Mercedes-Benz product planning team knew they were on to a winner.
Like other trend-setting new vehicle concepts from Mercedes-Benz, the Grand Sports Tourer was the outcome of an intensive dialogue with customers from all over the world, aimed at pinpointing and analyzing their requirements and translating them into new vehicle projects.
The design specifications for the Vision GST envisaged a long-distance tourer which would provide a relaxed traveling environment for up to six people. This presupposed a large interior and, since there are limits to what even the most space-maximizing design can achieve, it also presupposed large exterior dimensions. Vision GST was 5.13 meters long (as long as the long-wheelbase version of the S-Class), 1.92 meters wide and 1.65 meters tall, with a wheelbase of 3.22 meters. The result was first-class interior space, as can be seen from the various dimensional statistics. The distance between the first and second seat rows was 92 centimeters, with 82.5 centimeters separating the second and third rows. On headroom, too, Vision GST went beyond the usual luxury-segment dimensions, with 101 centimeters headroom right at the front of the vehicle, 103 centimeters in the center and a generous 95 centimeters at the third row of seats. This level of space-efficiency was quite simply a benchmark: more than 44 percent of the body volume was devoted to the passenger compartment a ratio currently unmatched by any luxury-class sedan.
With dimensions like these, the designers obviously faced something of a challenge in their quest for styling which would be dynamic, inspiring and innovative, despite the imposing size. But they managed to pull it off: Vision GST had an unmistakably dynamic stance, yet without compromising on elegance. The secret lay in the clearly defined, rounded roofline which ran in a taut bow from the A-pillar to the D-pillar. Other design features combined with this to convey forward-flowing energy and nimble movement. The frontal view was particularly powerful.
The occupants were enveloped by comfort from the moment they stepped on board. A brief touch of the sensor button caused the door handles to glide out for easier opening. This was followed up a moment later by the next pleasant surprise: the large, so-called butterfly doors opened out from the center, with no intervening B-pillar. Opening to a maximum angle of 90 degrees, they gave an expansive view of the interior and provided extremely convenient access and exit.
The roof of the Vision GST consisted largely of special electrochromic glass. At the press of a button, the level of tinting could be varied depending on the intensity of the sunlight. At the sides, the panoramic roof spilt over the edge to give a three-dimensional effect, adding to the sense of lightness and transparency inside. An ingenious lighting concept with luminescent films in the ceiling, the doors and the lower areas of the transmission tunnel added to the cozy atmosphere, providing discreet illumination while on the move. At night-time, the glow from this lighting maintained the agreeable sense of spaciousness, so that the occupants of the Vision GST could feel just as secure and at ease as during the daytime.
Comfort and relaxation were the keynotes of the interior, which presented a mix of attractive shapes, soft materials like wood and leather and attractive colors which made for a bright and friendly ambience. The comfortable single seats were individually adjustable. As with the transmission tunnel, their mounting points were concealed, giving them a "floating" appearance which deftly accentuated the pleasant sense of spaciousness in the Grand Sports Tourer.
The instrument dials were surrounded by aluminum cylinders and recalled racing car cockpits of the past, although the technology was very much state of the art. Aluminum highlights were to be found elsewhere in the interior too, for example on the side air outlets, the center console and the tunnel.
Wood surfaces provided an attractive counterpoint to the metal. They included a large panel running right across the dashboard and wood trim in the center console. Instead of being finished with lacquer, the open-pored wood was protected just by wax and oil, for a more natural effect.
The seats and door panels were upholstered in a combination of leather and high-tech fabrics which for the first time gave the designers the chance to create a pattern using leather. In the seat surfaces the material had been cut out to a precise pattern by laser. This exposed the leather underneath and emphasized the pattern.
The rear-seat entertainment system allowed passengers to while away the journey with their own selection of music or films. For passengers in the second row of seats, two eight-inch color screens were provided, integrated in the backs of the front head restraints and connected to a CD/DVD player and a digital TV receiver. For passengers in the third row of seats, a swivel-mounted color monitor was installed on the rear side of the rear center console, which also offered room for an additional CD/DVD player.
As befits a vehicle which was aiming to be versatile, Vision GST had an extremely adaptable interior designed to meet a wide range of transport needs. The four rear seats were individually folding and it was only a moment’s work to remove the rear center console and in this way increase the cargo space, when loaded up the roof, to an impressive 2030 liters (VDA method) considerably more than in a conventional station wagon.
The first Vision GST was powered by an AMG-modified eight-cylinder gasoline engine with 5.5 liter displacement, 265 kW (360 hp) and four-wheel drive. Vision GST 2 meanwhile was powered by a diesel hybrid system offering improved fuel economy and reduced emissions, with no concessions on agility, comfort and driving enjoyment. The hood sheltered an eight-cylinder diesel engine developing 184 kW/250 hp and an electric motor developing 50 kW. The motor was powered by a rear-mounted 270 V nickel metal hydride battery with a capacity of 1.5 kilowatt hours and a rated voltage of 270 V. This combination delivered a formidable combined maximum torque of 860 Newton meters and made Vision GST 2 a lively performer. 0 - 100 km/h time was just 6.6 seconds, with an electronically limited top speed of 250 km/h.
Load sharing between the diesel engine and the electric motor was coordinated by an electronic microcontroller. When moving off from rest, when parking, in stop-and-go operation or in slow-moving traffic when the vehicle was simply keeping pace with the flow and there were no major power demands, the emission-free electric motor was used. The V8 was only started if the driver demanded more power, in which case the vehicle provided typical Mercedes acceleration. This powertrain concept reduced fuel consumption by approximately 20 percent, to approximately 7.9 liters per 100 km (30 miles to the US gallon), with the potential for further improvement. The diesel emissions were purified by a sophisticated sensor-controlled exhaust gas aftertreatment system.
For both versions of the Vision GST, new front and rear axles were developed which in combination with AIRMATIC air suspension provided outstandingly good ride comfort. Active safety was provided by the Electronic Stability Program (ESP) and the electronically controlled traction support system 4ETS. 4ETS applies controlled amounts of braking pressure to wheels which are losing grip and simultaneously increases the amount of power sent to the wheels with good traction. These various systems gave both versions of the Vision GST the long-distance ride comfort of a luxury-class sedan and the sure handling of a four-wheel drive vehicle.
On occupant safety Vision GST blazed a new trail with the innovative Mercedes-Benz PRE-SAFE occupant protection system. PRE-SAFE can detect an impending collision in advance and activates special protection systems before the impact takes place. In Vision GST these included belt tensioners and an automatic seat adjuster which moved the front passenger seat into a position where the belt and airbag could provide best possible protection.
As with other Mercedes-Benz concept vehicles, lighting technology was once again an important theme. The ovoid headlamps evoked associations with current Mercedes models and at the same time gave the concept vehicle a distinctive and unmistakable face. Alongside their functional aspect, the high-tech lighting features were also used as a styling device - for example the daytime lights and the turn signals illuminated the entire semi-transparent area of the headlamps, so that the characteristic oval shape was striking at night as well as during the day. The twin xenon projector-beam headlamps, with their Fresnel lenses which focused the high beam and low beam, were a further striking feature. For the turn signals and daytime lights, high-performance light-emitting diodes were used.
The three-chamber rear lights, consisting of elegant, chrome-plated fins, likewise showed both stylistic and technical ingenuity. For example an "active" brake light function automatically caused all rear light functions to show red when the driver stepped on the brake pedal, thus providing a conspicuous warning for following traffic. The sequential LED turn signals were likewise very visible.
"Vision R", which appeared at the 2004 Paris Motor Show, was a European version of the Grand Sports Tourer. It differed in having, at 2980 millimeters, a 235 mm shorter wheelbase than the version of January 2004. A four-plus-two-seater, it was 4922 millimeters long and offered generous interior space.
Vision R was powered by a prototype of a new V6 diesel engine which made a natural choice for a car in this category. Equipped with common-rail direct injection and a VNT turbocharger, this three-liter CDI unit developed maximum power of 160 kW (218 hp) and maximum torque of 510 Newton meters. The effortless power of this engine was matched only by its refinement and by fuel consumption of less than nine liters per 100 km.
New worlds and new departures are frequently based on a vision or visions. That’s certainly the case with Vision GST and Vision R. They will be followed by a production version which will set Mercedes-Benz standards in a whole new segment. It will start coming off the line at the end of 2004.