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Old 27th April 2010, 11:55   #1
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Default Demonstration of 4x4 Tech at the "Mercedes StarDrive Event"

Most of us offroaders have debated endlessly on short wheelbases, solid axles, articulation, torque delivery, gearing, 4x4 tyres etc., and the effect each of these has on offroad performance. Full credit to the mechanical basics, but what role has technology played? The Classic / CJ340 is amongst the best Indian off-roaders, yet uses production design & tech that has been around since WWII.

Mercedes showcased some of their offroad technology at the "StarDrive in Mumbai" event last weekend. While the GL350 CDI is in no ways a hard-core offroader, do note that part of this tech is also available in the "G-Wagen" which is a highly-revered 4x4 (and others like the Landcruiser etc.).

Hari Singh (5 times National Rally Champion) was piloting the GL350 CDI that Team-BHP got a demo in. 510 NM of torque (starting @ 1,600 rpm), 275 width rubber on 19 inch wheels and the optional "offroad pro package". The GL350 CDI has AWD and a low ratio transfer case which effectively gives the engine a total of 14 forward gear ratios to choose from. There's also a self-levelling suspension which maintains the same ground clearance, whatever the weight of passengers and / or cargo.

Simulation of driving over boulders:

At one point, two wheels (left front and rear right) were in the air, but the GL continued nevertheless. Thanks to:
  • Max ground clearance of 307 mm! AIRMATIC air suspension that allows you to increase / decrease the ride height, depending on ground condition
  • Traction control - Works in conjunction with AWD
  • Individual wheel sensors - To gauge the grip available to each tyre and supply / disconnect power accordingly. Net net, they supply power to a multiple combination of wheels that have grip. Also, it will supply just the torque that the wheel can take (without slipping).
Demonstration of 4x4 Tech at the "Mercedes StarDrive Event"-4ets.png

The "obstacles"
Demonstration of 4x4 Tech at the "Mercedes StarDrive Event"-1.jpg

That's Hari Singh in the driver seat. Merc says their system is the equivalent of, and better than, three diff-locks. At this point, the RHS front wheel (and both rear) is given maximum torque, while the LHS is a mute spectator
Demonstration of 4x4 Tech at the "Mercedes StarDrive Event"-2.jpg

Demonstration of 4x4 Tech at the "Mercedes StarDrive Event"-3.jpg

The 4ETS gives max torque to the tyres with grip, and zero to the ones in the air:
Demonstration of 4x4 Tech at the "Mercedes StarDrive Event"-4.jpg

Demonstration of 4x4 Tech at the "Mercedes StarDrive Event"-5.jpg

Demonstration of 4x4 Tech at the "Mercedes StarDrive Event"-6.jpg

An M Class was also part of the showcasing
Demonstration of 4x4 Tech at the "Mercedes StarDrive Event"-ml-class-1.jpg

Our superbly placed camera caught the action from the best view possible:


40 degree climb, and then descent:
  • Hill start assist : When activated, the SUV will not roll back on steep climbs (when taking off from a dead stop)
Wicked picture? Look closely
Demonstration of 4x4 Tech at the "Mercedes StarDrive Event"-7.jpg

Why, its a GL staring skyward!
Demonstration of 4x4 Tech at the "Mercedes StarDrive Event"-8.jpg

Hari Singh cool as a cucumber at this point. We came to a complete standstill, and then moved forward with the ease of doing so on a flat surface (Hill Start Assist at work)
Demonstration of 4x4 Tech at the "Mercedes StarDrive Event"-9.jpg

Downhill speed regulation : Hari set a fixed speed of 4 kph (can choose between 4 - 16 kph in forward or reverse gears), and left it to the hardware / software. The SUV made light work of descending the steep decline with - you guessed it - zero drama. Not a wheel lost grip even momentarily
Demonstration of 4x4 Tech at the "Mercedes StarDrive Event"-10.jpg

The seatbelts tighten up automatically to hold all 4 occupants firm, safe and in their intended place. If this was a slippery surface, the "Offroad ABS mode" kicks in. The system gives more leeway, allowing tyres to "dig in". Merc claims that the offroad ABS system reduces braking distances on loose surface
Demonstration of 4x4 Tech at the "Mercedes StarDrive Event"-11.jpg
Demonstration of 4x4 Tech at the "Mercedes StarDrive Event"-12.jpg

30 degree slope taken laterally:
Demonstration of 4x4 Tech at the "Mercedes StarDrive Event"-dsc04031.jpg
Demonstration of 4x4 Tech at the "Mercedes StarDrive Event"-dsc04032.jpg
Demonstration of 4x4 Tech at the "Mercedes StarDrive Event"-dsc04034.jpg

Nope, I don't think anyone is going to be taking their GL for hard-core 4x4'ing anytime soon. The M-Class' bigger brother tips the scales at 2,450 kilos. Neither is it a body on frame. But it was fantastic to see some 4x4 tech in action. Now, how about an offroad test of the G-Wagen?

Last edited by Rehaan : 1st November 2011 at 16:37. Reason: YT fix
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Old 27th April 2010, 12:06   #2
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Great man. Nice event to be part of and see these in action. I did see the episode on some TV channel.

Of all the aspects, I like the 30 deg sideways slope the best -- and something that I MAY not be able to do in my Gypsy. Rest all, I can do in my Gypsy also. But this obviously does it in much much more style/luxury and less drama :-)
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Old 27th April 2010, 12:08   #3
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Awesome pictures and the video.

Begs the question, did it require Hari Singh at the wheel?
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Old 27th April 2010, 12:25   #4
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Wow, when will these technology trickle down to affordable levels?

And I agree with Spitfire here. Having seen Hari Singh in action in offrroad events in different ancient Jeeps, it is a total waste of his skills to put him into such test drives.
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Old 27th April 2010, 12:35   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by khan_sultan View Post
Of all the aspects, I like the 30 deg sideways slope the best -- and something that I MAY not be able to do in my Gypsy. Rest all, I can do in my Gypsy also. But this obviously does it in much much more style/luxury and less drama :-)
Zero drama is the key term here. For all practical purposes, we could be working on our laptops inside! Strangely, it didn't feel that top heavy.

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Originally Posted by Spitfire View Post
Begs the question, did it require Hari Singh at the wheel?
I got talking to Hari about this event, and the Great Escapes. In his words "Sure keeps me smiling while the hair has turned white"

Quote:
Originally Posted by Samurai View Post
Wow, when will these technology trickle down to affordable levels?
Think of it this way : Mercedes was the first to offer airbags, ABS, crumple zones and seat belt pre-tensioners in their passenger cars (typically starting off with the S-Class). Today, these technologies have watered down to even the humble WagonR at 4 lakh rupees!

Quote:
Having seen Hari Singh in action in offrroad events in different ancient Jeeps, it is a total waste of his skills to put him into such test drives.
You won't say that when you see the next thread on the StarDrive event. It was a demonstration of Merc's safety tech. Wait & watch (think slides at 100 kph ). Coming up soon
Demonstration of 4x4 Tech at the "Mercedes StarDrive Event"-img_3557.jpg

Last edited by GTO : 27th April 2010 at 12:37.
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Old 27th April 2010, 14:58   #6
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wicked stuff gto,
wish i was there to watch it in person
reminds me of the land rover show in london.

while she is descending down the slope, some cover of the front number plate is noted hanging, did that happen cause of the departure angle
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Old 27th April 2010, 15:06   #7
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Supreb stuff. Its one thing to see our offroad vehicles on a course or a custom built tracks like this and totally another experience to see these super luxo barges do it in a diff league altogether.

Electronics sure seems to have made man's life easy!

ps: i wouldn't allow Hari Sing to drive DwArF, but love to snatch the merc keys from them
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Old 27th April 2010, 15:18   #8
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Nice! where did this happen? wish i could take my jeep there to play around before it got dismantled!
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Old 27th April 2010, 15:30   #9
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Great report GTO

While I don't understand much in 4x4 but I liked the uphill & downhill pics & more so the 30 degrees sideways slope one.

The video has come out very well & good to see the action from below the car.
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Old 27th April 2010, 15:42   #10
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Thats a great way of showing off ones off road pedigree. Where in Bombay was this GTO? Loved the pics and especially the climb and descent video.
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Old 27th April 2010, 16:37   #11
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Great report GTO, felt almost like i was there

When i first saw the ML going up the ramps, i thought that things weren't as good as they should be, because the tyre that lost traction started to spin away. However, after less than a second of spinning, the electronics kicked in and cut power to that wheel.

As mentioned, other 4x4s have the capability to do this kind of stuff too - but what was impressive was the quietness and comfort that these cars managed to do it with.

Quote:
Originally Posted by xtreme power View Post
...
while she is descending down the slope, some cover of the front number plate is noted hanging, did that happen cause of the departure angle
Its actually a stuck on piece of paper. If you watch the end of the video you will see it hanging and finally falling off on that descent.

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Nice! where did this happen?
Pawan Hans a.k.a Juhu Aerodrome.
(Seems to be the second event there since the 370z launch : link (Report & Pics: Nissan 370Z launch in Mumbai + display in various cities))

cya
R

Last edited by Rehaan : 27th April 2010 at 16:40.
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Old 27th April 2010, 17:29   #12
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Very nice thread, the pics and especially the videos have come out very well. Team Bhp does it again, the very professional way.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GTO View Post
Think of it this way : Mercedes was the first to offer airbags, ABS, crumple zones and seat belt pre-tensioners in their passenger cars (typically starting off with the S-Class). Today, these technologies have watered down to even the humble WagonR at 4 lakh rupees!
Hope the same happens with all the latest innovations, not just offraod capabilities, and the watering down takes much lesser lime than before.
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Old 27th April 2010, 17:42   #13
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Nice; they should have also included the same video/circus when its a wet track IMHO. Have seem similar video done by Fortuner and that was better.
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Old 27th April 2010, 18:00   #14
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Very, very interesting! Any pics / videos of the suspension in its fully raised state? 307 mm GC sounds like one can drive a Nano under it...
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Old 27th April 2010, 19:20   #15
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GTO any idea regarding the height of the obstacles? I mean height of the obstacle (boulder simulation) from the ground.

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