At this year’s autoshow in Detroit, USA, DaimlerChrysler showed off a design study known as the Mercedes-Benz Vision GST (‘GST’ being the initials for ‘Grand Sports Tourer’). At that time, Professor Jurgen Hubbert, Member of the Board of Management of DaimlerChrysler AG responsible for Mercedes-Benz Passenger Cars, was vague about this concept becoming a production model.
“Concept vehicles from Mercedes-Benz are always more than mere “show cars”, he said when asked the question, adding that ‘visions presented by Mercedes-Benz can quite rapidly develop into real production projects’.
Seven months later, his ‘prophetic statement’ is supported by the announcement that the company will build the GST at its US plant (which makes the M-Class) from the end of 2004.
Mercedes-Benz is once again emphasising its role as a trend-setter among premium-class automotive brands with the Vision GST – claimed to be ‘a radically new vehicle concept closely focused on the needs and wishes of people of today’. It creates an interesting vehicle category which combines features of a number of established automotive concepts to create a new and distinctive format.
The Vision GST is a touring saloon, estate, people carrier and sport utility vehicle (SUV)… rolled into one. Above all, the Mercedes study is a vehicle which lends unprecedented excitement and new meaning to the concept of long-distance driving pleasure.
“This… is a response to the frequent calls from our customers for a vehicle for all occasions which is superbly styled, exciting to drive and engineered to the highest standards – a car which offers plenty of room for family and leisure outings, for touring and for professional use but at the same time combines this with superb handling and performance. Mercedes-Benz has defined a new market segment with the Vision GST – a segment with huge potential for the future,” commented Professor Hubbert.
The distinctive arc of the roof line which sweeps gently from the A-pillar to the C-pillar dominates the dynamic styling of the Vision GST. It emphasises the long, sleek silhouette and hints strongly at the powerful, sporty power plant within the spacious body. This impression is further reinforced by the large, 22-inch wheels and the wedge shape suggested by the lines which are a distinctive feature of the sides of the vehicle.
At roof level, a large area of special electrochromic glass runs from the front windscreen to the rear of the vehicle. At the press of a button, the occupants can vary the degree of tinting depending on the intensity of the sunlight.
The side windows of the design study are equally striking. The absence of a B-pillar means the window area gives the effect of a continuous band, which again helps to reinforce the sporty character of the vehicle. Other highlights include the rear-hinged “butterfly” doors, which open to 90 degrees, making boarding and alighting particularly easy while at the same time opening up new possibilities in the field of interior design.
Sumptuous, hand-crafted materials like wood, leather and aluminium underpin the exclusive interior ambience in the Vision GST. The sophisticated lighting system which makes use of a new type of luminous film in the roof lining, in the door trim and on the transmission tunnel accentuates the inviting atmosphere.
The driver, the front passenger and the occupants of the rear seats can feel completely at their ease in the comfortable, power-adjustable single seats with integrated belt system. With a third seat row for two additional passengers in the rear, the Vision GST offers comfortable accommodation for six people while the large side window areas and the panoramic glass roof allow them to enjoy the journey to the full.
In the area of the instrument panel, the eye is drawn to the centre console which almost appears detached from the rest of the dashboard. The centre console, with its two aluminium panels and tinted glass, houses the colour monitor, the CD player, the car radio and many of the controls. The monitor, which is part of the navigation system, incorporates new software which gives the direction arrows, road maps and other graphic display features a spatialised 3D effect. This advanced display technology is also used for the shimmering blue cockpit instruments.
The heart of the Vision GST – at least in the concept model – is a 5.5 litre Mercedes-AMG V8 powerplant which develops 265 kW/360 bhp. The concept model also hash the 4-ETS 4WD electronic traction-support system from the M and G Class models, AIRMATIC air suspension and the new Sensotronic Brake Control high-pressure brake system. The large brake discs are made of carbon fibre-reinforced ceramic. The occupant protection features are rounded off by the new PRE-SAFE safety system which can detect an impending collision in advance and activates the belt tensioners before the impact actually occurs.
The Vision GST measures 5.15 metres in length – the same as a long-wheelbase S-Class and has a wheelbase of 3.22 metres.