Posted by Joe Lorio, Automobile
Though the weather outside Detroit's Cobo Hall was relatively balmy, the theme at Mercedes-Benz was decidedly cool.
The German manufacturer's show stand had a large ice rink as its centerpiece. The chairs in the refreshment zone were covered in white fur and ice skaters circled around an S-class 4Matic. The press conference started with a dogsled riding out onto the ice, after which Mercedes-Benz chief (and DaimlerChrysler chairman) Dieter Zetsche informed the crowd that Mercedes was celebrating 100 years since the introduction of its first four-wheel-drive car, in 1907.Next, several Mercedes-Benz SUVs rolled onto the ice amid circling hockey players and music from Vanilla Ice, as Zetsche boasted of the brand's 48 different all-wheel-drive models.
Despite the ice theme, the bigger news was the GL420 Bluetec, a V-8 diesel with exhaust-cleansing Bluetec technology. (photos from automobilemag.com) The GL420 Bluetec makes 290 hp and 515 lb-ft of torque, yet still manages a combined city/highway fuel economy rating of 24 mpg.
Unfortunately, for now the GL420 Bluetec is only a concept; to see a diesel GL you can buy today, one instead had to look to the V-6 diesel GL320 CDI, which along with the R320 CDI and the ML320 CDI is currently available in 45 states.
Next came more figure skaters and then a red carpet rolled out over the ice as the star of the show arrived: the Ocean Drive concept.
This four-door convertible S-class was driven out by Mercedes-Benz design chief Peter Pfeiffer, with "Dancing with the Stars" winners Emmitt Smith and Cheryl Burke riding in back.
Based on the S600 and powered by a 517-hp, twin-turbocharged V-12, the Ocean Drive rolls on 36-spoke wheels. (photos from automobilemag.com) Up front are LED headlights and inside there is extensive use of real wood, including on the hard tonneau. The massive, power-operated soft top disappears under the trunk lid in 20 seconds.
The Ocean Drive itself will hang around a bit longer, but don't expect this fanciful creation to make production.
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