Mercedes AIRCAP – Keeping Your Hair in One Place
On the other hand, future convertible car owners may be able to bypass the issue thanks to Mercedes' new system, featured on the recently introduced E-Klasse Cabriolet. Dubbed by the Stuttgart-based carmaker AIRCAP, the system is meant to do two things: keep air turbulence to a minimum and enable open-top driving regardless of the season (more or less). Sounds cool? Let's see.
The saga of the AIRCAP begins sometimes in 1989, when Mercedes introduced the roll-over bar and the draught-stop for the Mercedes SL (R 129). At the time (as is the case with AIRCAP), the features were world firsts. In 2004, the carmaker introduced the AIRSCARF system (detailed at the bottom of this guide).
WHAT IS IT
AIRCAP is an automatic draught-stop system aimed at reducing turbulence at all four seats, without coming in the way of comfort. It is made up of two components, a wind deflector and a draught-stop between the rear seats. With them, AIRCAP can reduce the backflow and raise the pressure level. The system can be turned on and off by use of a button, while no previous installation or removal of any of the consisting parts is needed.
HOW IT WORKS
Designed to take on the heavy pounding of the wind generated by the motion of the car, the wind deflector comprises a total of 211 individual components and is made of 32 different materials. According to Daimler, the deflector is protected by almost 20 patents, so don't get any funny ideas after reading this.
The purpose of the deflector is exactly that: deflect the wind. It can be positioned in three different positions, each one active depending on several elements which we will describe below: retracted, half extended and fully extended. When in off mode, the deflector sits in the retracted position. When the AIRCAP button is depressed, the system moves to half extended, preventing air generated by the forward motion to enter the cabin, without impairing visibility at the same time.
When one of the passengers seated at the rear buckles up, both the head restraint (safety feature) and AIRCAP's draught-stop move to a more elevated position, providing about the same level of wind protection at the rear as the wind deflector does at the front.
To complete the comfort offering on the new E-Klasse Cabriolet, Mercedes has paired AIRCAP with the AIRSCARF system. The latter was introduced, as we said in the beginning of this piece, in 2004 and it is in fact a series of air vents integrated into the backrests of the front seats.
They provide air through outlets in the head restraints, aimed at surrounding the occupants' neck with a coat of warm air. The vents are height-adjustable and pivotable and can spill out three different temperature levels.
Having a lot less cold air getting into the cabin at any given point allows the car's heating system to better provide that which it is supposed to provide. Mercedes calls the effect created by AIRCAP "a sea of warm air." Actually, the sea is more of a bubble, as the warm air from the seating system is being kept into the car for longer periods of time when AIRCAP is switched on.
The sea of warm air can also turn into a sea of Arctic wind. When operated during hot summer days, the same thing happens with the air coming from the air conditioning system: it stays in the car for longer.
This means only one thing. Provided there is no deluge going on, or an apocalyptic snow storm for that matter, you can drive the E-Klasse Cabrio, top down, for most of the year. Perhaps this is why Mercedes chose to launch the new E-Klasse Cabrio on January 11...
AIRCAP is not speed dependent, meaning the driver can turn it on even at speeds of 160 km/h. After that, the sky's the limit because, once active, AIRFLOW can keep working all the way to the car's top speed (although, to be honest, we're not quite sure of its effectiveness at higher speeds).