Luxury touring in a distinctive format: Vision GST, Vision GST 2 and Vision R

Aug 22, 2011
The facts
  • 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
  • Drivetrain:
    1) Vision GST: eight-cylinder petrol engine, 5.5 litre displacement, 265 kW(360 hp), four-wheel drive, six-speed automatic transmission 2) Vision GST 2: hybrid drive – eight-cylinder diesel engine with 4.0 litre displacement and 184 kW (250 hp), combined with a 50 kWelectric motor – four-wheel drive, six-speed automatic transmission 3) Vision R: V-six-cylinder diesel engine with 3.0 litre displacement, 160 kW (218 hp), four-wheel drive, 7G-TRONIC seven-speed automatic transmission
Technical highlights
  • 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)
  • Electrotransparent 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 colour monitors with CD/DVD player and digital TV receiver for passengers in the second row of seats and a swivel-mounted colour monitor and additional CD/DVD player for passengers in the third row
  • Four-wheel drive with 4ETS electronically controlled traction system
  • Anticipatory occupant protection system PRE-SAFE® Introduced 2003 in the Mercedes-Benz S-Class (W 220)
  • Sensotronic Brake Control (SBC®) electrohydraulic brake system
    Introduced 2001 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 series-production version was also in full swing. It is scheduled to start coming off the line at the end of 2004. This evolution is 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 travelling 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 metres long (as long as the long-wheelbase version of the S-Class), 1.92 metres wide and 1.65 metres tall, with a wheelbase of 3.22 metres. 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 centimetres, with 82.5 centimetres separating the second and third rows. On headroom, too, Vision GST went beyond the usual luxury-segment dimensions, with 101 centimetres headroom right at the front of the vehicle, 103 centimetres in the centre and a generous 95 centimetres at the third row of seats. This level of space-efficiency was quite simply a benchmark: more than 44 per cent 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 centre, 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 electrotransparent 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 cosy 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 colours 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 aluminium cylinders and recalled racing car cockpits of the past, although the technology was very much state of the art. Aluminium highlights were to be found elsewhere in the interior too, for example on the side air outlets, the centre 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 centre 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 emphasised 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 colour 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 colour monitor was installed on the rear side of the rear centre 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 centre console and in this way increase the cargo space, when loaded up the roof, to an impressive 2030 litres (VDA method) – considerably more than in a conventional station wagon.
The first Vision GST was powered by an AMG-modified eight-cylinder petrol engine with 5.5 litre 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 bonnet sheltered an eight-cylinder diesel engine developing 184 kW/250 hp and an electric motor developing 50 kW (68 hp). 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 metres 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-Benz acceleration. This drivetrain concept reduced fuel consumption by approximately 20 per cent, to approximately 7.9 litres 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 anticipatory occupant protection system PRE-SAFE® developed by Mercedes-Benz. This system is capable of detecting 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-Benz 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 2.98 metres, a 23.5 centimetre shorter wheelbase than the version of January 2004. A four-plus-two-seater, it was 4.92 metres 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-litre CDI unit developed maximum power of 160 kW (218 hp) and maximum torque of 510 newton metres. The effortless power of this engine was matched only by its refinement and by fuel consumption of less than nine litres 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.
Number Two: The Mercedes-Benz GST 2, presented in Detroit in January 2004, already bore greater resemblance to the production version.
Number Two: The Mercedes-Benz GST 2, presented in Detroit in January 2004, already bore greater resemblance to the production version.
Energy storage unit in the trunk: The nickel-metal-hydride battery in the rear of the Vision GST 2 supplied the electric motor
The hallmark of the hybrid drive system of the Vision GST 2 was the intelligent combination of engine and motor during acceleration. When diesel engine and electric motor work together, a computer controls low-consumption and low-emission operation with the aim of achieving maximum efficiency
The Vision GST 2 was a concept study of a Grand Sports Tourer with a future-oriented hybrid drive system consisting of V8 diesel engine and electric motor. With low fuel consumption and optimized emissions, the Vision GST 2 afforded motor pleasure and great dynamism
Space vehicle: Vision GST 2 offers room for up to six people
Ergonomics and style: The functional and at the same time aesthetically appealing workplace of Vision GST 2
Plenty of space: The rear seats of Vision GST can be folded down to provide an almost level load floor
New touring car: Grand Sports Tourer “Vision R”
Comfortable: The Grand Sports Tourer “Vision R” offers an abundance of space
Accommodating: The trunk of the Grand Sports Tourer “Vision R”
Luxury-class ambience: The interior of the Grand Sports Tourer “Vision R” spoils even demanding drivers and passengers
Light cupola: The panoramic glass roof gives the Grand Sports Tourer “Vision R” a light and appealing atmosphere
Discreetly in top form: The Grand Sports Tourer “Vision R” doesn’t show its size
Dynamic lines: There is nothing ponderous about the rear end of Vision GST
Light and air: Generous glazing gives lightness to Vision GST, ensuring agreeable motoring
Villa on wheels: Vision GST completely re-defines the spacious car
Entrance free: Butterfly doors provide access to Vision GST
Closer to production: Vision GST 2 with conventional doors
New lighting technology: For the turn signals of Vision GST 2, the engineers opted for a sequential LED band
The shape of things to come: Second version of Vision GST
Welcoming interior: The designers and engineers provided Vision GST with a host of inner values, including, for instance, a sophisticated entertainment system