Geneva 2011: Mercedes-Benz Brings New SLK, Smart Forspeed EV Concept

In order to maximize the small amount of allotted time for press conferences at this year's Geneva Motor Show, Mercedes combined its time with Smart to show one big brand building image that included old cars, new cars and even a concept.

Mercedes started out the day with a brief introduction from the man, the myth, the moustache, Dr. Zetsche. A 1904 Simplex was used to demonstrate the basis for modern cars with a long wheelbase, wide stance and low center of gravity. Not only does Mercedes lay claim to inventing the car, it gave it its modern form.

It was after an announcement that the e-cell SLS AMG electric supercar will go into to production in 2013 that the real awesomeness commenced. A band lead by a scorching keytar player blasted Swiss synth-pop through the expo center while the Smart Forspeed electric concept was driven on stage. The lightweight concept uses the same drivetrain as Smart's current electric offerings, using a 40-horsepower motor and 16.5-Kw-hour lithium-ion battery pack. With lower power consumption the Forspeed is capable of taking a charge large enough for 60-miles of travel in only 45 minutes. The Forspeed is set to go into production in 2012, but with a roof.

Mercedes then pulled out its latest roadster offering, the SLK. Images of the car on track and driven aggressively on the road emphasized the more masculine design language in the new car. The efficiency of the new 201-horsepower, turbocharged, direct-injection, 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine was touted along with the technological advancement in the new Magic Sky roof that goes from clear to opaque with the push of a button.

Lastly, the 2012 C-Class was rolled out in all three variants: sedan, wagon and coupe. The new C will use the same 1.8-liter offered in the SLK for the entry-level models while the range-topping AMG C63 models will return with the 451-horsepower 6.2-liter V-8, but the refreshed version will use AMG's MCT single-clutch transmission for better power transmission as well as increased fuel efficiency. The suspension has been retuned, reportedly for far better handling performance.

Mercedes finished the conference by introducing members of the German National women's soccer team, who are far lovelier than you might imagine. With a Swiss new-wave band, athletes and several new products, it looks as if Mercedes is on the right track for 2011. Later this year we expect to see the unveiling of an SLS Roadster as well as AMG versions of the SLK and E-Class It looks like there are more exciting products in the future, but can Mercedes out-do the keytar shredder?

For more on all the world debuts from Geneva, including more photos, videos and information, be sure to click over to our 2011 Geneva Motor Show coverage.

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