Mercedes has provided a glimpse of the new Magic Sky Control vario-roof to be offered as an option on its next-generation SLK roadster, which is due to be launched next year.
The original SLK, introduced in 1997, was one of the first open-topped cars to adopt the now-popular folding metal roof technology which has even made it onto some of the cheapest convertibles on the market. Recent folding hard-tops, such as that fitted to Renault's Megane CC and Porsche's re-born Targa, however, feature large glass, rather than metal, panels. Magic Sky Control is Mercedes' attempt to distinguish its glass roof from some of the others by overcoming one of the main disadvantages of clear tops – the heating up of the car interior in direct sunlight.
Magic Sky Control allows a transparent dark roof to be darkened within a few seconds at the press of a switch. Particles in the glass position themselves in order to allow light to pass through when a current is passed through the roof structure but when the current is switched off, they adopt random positions, which blocks the passage of light. Because the technology prevents light from shining through the roof when the current is switched off, the car's interior is protected from over-heating when it is parked and not in use. Darkening the roof when the car is occupied reduces the load on the air conditioning system; that cuts down on fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.
Merecedes says Magic Sky Control will be available as an option costing less than EUR 2,000 when the next SLK goes on sale. The roof was shown to journalists fitted to an otherwise disguised example of the the new car, which appears to have a silhouette that is quite similar to that of the current model, although perhaps a little more muscular in appearance.