Mercedes-Benz Concept Vehicles –
the Shape of the Future
Compact roadster: Vision SLA
In January 2000 Mercedes-Benz introduced the Vision SLA  at the Detroit Auto Show. A small roadster based on the A-Class, the Vision SLA's aim was to translate the appeal and driving enjoyment of the SL series into an altogether smaller segment.
Dynamic roadster study: The Vision SLA of 2000 used tried-and-tested components of the Mercedes-Benz A-Class.
Reflecting its A-Class parentage Vision SLA had compact dimensions, with an exterior length of 3.77 meters promising a nippy driving experience – the SLK (R 170) was 20 centimeters longer, the SL (R 230) no less than 73 centimeters longer. Key design features of the compact roadster concept included powerfully sculpted fenders, a sharply raked windshield, large doors and a gently slanting rear in the style of the legendary Mercedes-Benz Silver Arrows. Two particularly innovative features were a prominent front fin and a V-shaped nose borrowed from the SLR high-performance sports car, which incorporated a centrally positioned Mercedes star.
Vision SLA
January 2000
North American International Auto Show, Detroit
Compact roadster
Four-stroke, four-cylinder gasoline engine, 1.9 liter displacement, 92 kW (125 hp), front-wheel drive, five-speed manual transmission
Technical highlights
  • Lightweight hybrid bodywork consisting of aluminum sections and panels and high-grade plastics
  • LED rear light clusters
    Introduced 2003 in the Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren (C 199)
  • LED turn signals
    Introduced 2003 in the Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren (C 199)
  • Carbon fiber bucket seats
    Introduced 2003 in the Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren (C 199)
The bodywork sheltered advanced Mercedes-Benz engineering. A 1.9 liter engine developing maximum power of 92 kW (125 hp) and maximum torque of 180 Newton meters at 4000 rpm provided lively performance, with a 0 - 100 km/h sprint time of 7.9 seconds and a top speed of 209 km/h. High active safety standards meanwhile were provided by the A-Class-derived, slightly modified chassis with Electronic Stability Program (ESP) and Brake Assist.
Please click on the pictures to enlarge them.
The A-Class influence could be seen in the safety concept too. Although the open-top two-seater wasn't built on the sandwich principle, in the event of a serious front-end impact it used the same bright idea as the A-Class of shunting the engine out of the way underneath the passenger compartment. The positioning of the engine at an angle ensured that in an impact it would slide down along the sturdy front floor panel without intruding into the passenger compartment. This gave Vision SLA the same high safety standards as larger Mercedes-Benz sedans. Roll-over protection was provided by sturdy roll-over bars behind the seats and by a reinforced front windshield frame.
Once again, lighting was an important development focus. At the rear, 30 high-performance LEDs, with prisms to disperse the light, provided a more effective rear warning system than conventional bulbs, particularly in conditions of poor visibility. It took the form of vertical bands. The powerful LED turn signals, housed on fins inside the light housings, were likewise innovative and designed to attract attention.
High-performance LEDs were also used for the brake lights, which were mounted in the rear bumper and in the rear crossbar on the trunk lid. Evenly dispersed road illumination and a long beam range were provided by state-of-the-art xenon projector-beam headlamps which used two separate headlamps for the dipped beam and the high beam.
At the front, the transparent ends of a frontal fin spanning the full width of the car incorporated yellow high-performance LED turn signals, which were supplemented by repeater LEDs in the exterior mirror casings.
Please click on the pictures to enlarge them.
Inside, the accent was on lightweight design. The technical aspects were woven neatly together with styling features suggesting lightness and transparency, such as perforated sheet metal, aluminum rotary controls and aluminum instrument cylinders. Carbon fiber bucket seats, adopted in slightly modified form from the Vision SLR, continued the theme – they were approximately 25 percent lighter than similarly specified conventional car seats.
The cockpit recalled sports cars and tourers of earlier years. The chronometer-style instruments normally supplied data only on speed, rpm, oil pressure and fuel level. However, other displays appeared behind the dials when needed, in the event of a malfunction.
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