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The New Mercedes-Benz M-Class. Refinement Meets Efficiency

7 May, 2012

The third generation Mercedes-Benz M-Class scores particularly well on outstanding energy efficiency, and on average the new model range consumes 25 percent less fuel than the previous models. One true champion in terms of fuel consumption is the ML 250 BlueTEC 4MATIC, which boasts a combined consumption of just 6.4 l/100 km (168 g CO2/km) and has a range of up to 1450 kilometres on a full tank. Further strengths of the premium SUV with permanent all-wheel drive include exceptional safety and well-balanced ride comfort as well as excellent driving dynamics both on and off the road. What's more, the ML features an array of new chassis developments and innovative dynamic handling control systems which further enhance both driving enjoyment and handling safety. A characteristic body design and a variable interior with a high wellness factor add to the richness of the driving experience in the new M-Class.

Dr. Thomas Weber, member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG with responsibility for Group Research and Mercedes-Benz Cars Development says:"With the M-Class, it's always been a case of combining the comfort and luxury of a saloon car with the off-road characteristics and the emotiveness of an SUV." The fact that the new M-Class is as fuel-efficient as the economical saloon cars displaying the Mercedes star makes the all-wheel-drive model even more desirable. A range of state-of-the-art engines, a class-leading cd figure (drag coefficient) of 0.32 and extensive BlueEFFICIENCY measures lay the foundations for outstanding energy efficiency.

According to Dr. Joachim Schmidt, Board Member of Mercedes-Benz Cars, Sales & Marketing: "The M-Class is a story of success. With more than 1.2 million vehicles sold, it is the best-selling SUV in its segment and also enjoys a loyal customer base. We will be continuing this success with the new M-Class, which will make an important contribution to our sales growth over the coming years."

A model of success: the M-Class sets new standards in the world of the SUV

BlueTEC diesel units and the new generation of BlueDIRECT petrol engines ensure excellent economy and an outstanding life cycle assessment of the new M-Class.

As far as the diesel engines are concerned, now available solely as BlueTEC units with SCR emissions technology, the focus is firmly on downsizing and on the new version of the V6 CDI engine:

  • In the ML 250 BlueTEC 4MATIC, the 3.0-litre V6 of the previous ML 300 CDI BlueEFFICIENCY 4MATIC model is replaced by the thrifty four-cylinder unit already familiar from, for instance, the E-Class. The combined consumption of 6.4 l/100 km is 30 percent lower than that of the previous model.
  • The ML 350 BlueTEC 4MATIC features an extensively revamped 3.0--litre V6 which offers far better performance coupled with a substantial reduction in fuel consumption. This version boasts a combined figure of just 7.3 l/100 km.

Thanks to AdBlue® emission control technology both diesel models comfortably meet the EU6 standard slated for the European introduction in 2014.

The ML 350 4MATIC BlueEFFICIENCY petrol-engine model, on the other hand, delivers a convincing performance thanks to the technical details of the new BlueDIRECT engine generation. The key here is the third-generation direct petrol injection system with spray-guided combustion and new piezo injectors that have an injection pressure of 200 bar, together with multi-spark ignition (MSI) and a new stratified combustion process. In this case, the combined consumption of 8.9 l/100 km is 23 percent lower than that of the previous ML 350 4MATIC model. The ML 350 4MATIC BlueEFFICIENCY meets the requirements of the EU5 standard, currently the strictest standard in force for petrol models.

Long-distance champion: a high level of efficiency ensures a long range

The range calculated for a full tank of fuel is particularly impressive. With a consumption of 6.4 l/100 km, the ML 250 BlueTEC with the standard 93-litre tank, can cover up to 1450 kilometres between refuelling stops.

The excellent fuel economy is underpinned by a comprehensive package of BlueEFFICIENCY measures as well as by this state-of-the-art engineering. In addition to the ECO start/stop function that comes as standard on all BlueTEC, these measures include the new seven-speed 7G/TRONIC PLUS automatic transmission with a new fuel-economy converter, friction-optimised bearings and a transmission oil thermal management system. Low-friction axle drives, electric steering, the optimised belt drive with decoupler, the on-demand control of all ancillary components and pumps, and tyres with low rolling resistance also play their part in reducing fuel consumption. What's more, intelligent lightweight design has stopped the weight from spiralling upwards.

The new M-Class (ML 250 BlueTEC) has a drag coefficient, or cd figure, of 0.32. Intensive simulations undertaken with the digital prototype, along with final touches added in the wind tunnel, ensure a perfect flow of air around the vehicle. The key factor determining the low wind resistance is the aerodynamic efficiency of the basic body shell, including the optimised design of the front bumper, of the A-pillars and of the roof spoiler, plus numerous other detailed improvements.

The result: a high level of comfort and outstanding driving dynamics on and off the road

Even the standard version of the new M-Class offers a high level of comfort, dynamic on-road handling and outstanding off-road capabilities. For the first time, the M-Class chassis with steel suspension features selective damping. The driver is assisted by electric steering, which ensures the optimum level of steering assistance for the current driving situation. In addition to this, the SUV impresses with the smallest turning circle in its market segment.

For driving off the beaten track, the ML 350 BlueTEC 4MATIC and ML 350 4MATIC BlueEFFICIENCY models are equipped with extensive off-road features as standard, including 4MATIC permanent all-wheel drive, 4ETS electronic traction control and an off-road button which activates a special off-road driving mode. Furthermore, the start-off assist system makes hill starts easier, while the Downhill Speed Regulation (DSR) automatically keeps the M-Class at the speed set using the cruise control stalk.

The optional ON&OFFROAD package for the new M-Class has six driving modes for optimising driving dynamics and handling safety, as the optimum drive system control is provided for an extremely wide range of on-road and off-road operating conditions. The driver can select from one automatic mode, two special off-road modes and three on-road modes using a rotary control in the centre console. In terms of "hardware", the ON&OFFROAD package comprises an underguard, a two-stage transfer case with reduction gear, an inter-axle differential lock and enhanced AIRMATIC functionality that allows a maximum ground clearance of 285 millimetres as well as a fording depth of 600 millimetres.

Active roll stabilisation in the form of the ACTIVE CURVE SYSTEM can be optionally combined with both the AIRMATIC air suspension with Adaptive Damping System (ADS) and the ON&OFFROAD package. This system uses active anti-roll bars on the front and rear axles and compensates for the roll angle of the body through bends, increasing agility and driving pleasure in the process. The system has the additional effect of increasing handing stability and therefore safety, particularly at higher speeds. Further benefits of the ACTIVE CURVE SYSTEM include superb ride comfort both when cornering and driving in a straight line, together with enhanced off-road abilities.

Gently does it: attention to detail ensures comfort

The new M-Class promises relaxed and, therefore, safe driving in all possible conditions. By paying close attention to detail every step of the way, the development engineers in the Mercedes Technology Center have significantly improved what they call the NVH comfort level (Noise, Vibration, Harshness). This is an important factor contributing to the general sense of wellbeing on board, whilst also playing its part in driver-fitness safety, especially on long journeys. The basis for the high level of NVH comfort is provided by the very rigid bodyshell of the M-Class. Further improvements have also been made to the drive system and chassis. This is all topped off by aero-acoustic refinements and the intelligent use of new-style insulation.

Well thought-out: safety at its best

In line with the Mercedes-Benz brand philosophy, the new M-Class represents the embodiment of the Mercedes-Benz holistic safety concept of Real Life Safety, which is derived primarily from what happens in a real accident situation. The extremely robust occupant compartment of the M-Class, together with the front and rear deformation zones, forms an effective basis for the occupant protection system. Nine airbags, activated on demand in accordance with the accident type and accident severity, can reduce the loads exerted on the occupants. In addition to active safety systems such as the standard-fit Brake Assist (BAS) or BAS PLUS (optional ML 250 BT), which can help to prevent an accident or reduce the severity of an accident, the new M-Class features further enhanced passive-safety measures to help protect pedestrians, including an Active Bonnet as standard.

Both active safety and driver-fitness safety in the new M-Class are further improved by assistance systems that will already be familiar, primarily from the S- and E-Class. The standard equipment package includes the drowsiness detection system ATTENTION ASSIST, the anticipatory safety system PRE-SAFE® and a tyre pressure loss warning system, as well as adaptive brake lights and Brake Assist (BAS). Active assistance systems such as Active Lane Keeping Assist and Active Blind Spot Assist are standard on all models except ML 250 BT.

Impressive credentials: the design

The new generation is instantly recognisable as an M-Class by its characteristic body design with the hallmark C-pillar shape. It combines high levels of design, appeal and ease of use to create a powerful presence. The front of the vehicle is dominated by the powerfully self-confident design of the radiator grille with its centrally positioned Mercedes star, giving it that typical M-Class look. Seen from the side, the elongated lines give formal emphasis to the onroad credentials of this vehicle, whose compact proportions are defined by a large wheelbase and short overhangs. The C-pillar that is so characteristic of this model series takes its cue from earlier generations of the M-Class and differentiates it very clearly in stylistic terms from its competitors. At the same time, the way the roof line slopes down to the rear underlines the sporty appeal of the new M-Class. No pillar is visible in the transition from the rear side window through to the rear windscreen. This, together with the similarly wraparound effect of the two-part rear light unit with LED fibre-optic technology, and the lowered roof with its large roof spoiler, add up to an overall harmonious design. The rear bumper, which features an integrated chrome-effect load sill guard in a new "wing design", defines the characteristic appearance of the SUV's rear end. The available wheels range from 18-inch through to 20-inch with an elegant, high-quality appeal. Optionally 21-inch AMG wheels can be fitted to emphasise the sporty look of the new M-Class.

Upgrade as standard: interior with a first-class ambience

The interior design concept clearly combines an authentic SUV experience with a sense of wellbeing that is usually the reserve of top-class Mercedes-Benz saloons. While an expressive dome shape embodies the power of an SUV, the gently sloping contours of the dashboard in the front passenger area afford an outstanding sense of space, thereby highlighting the vehicle's suitability for long journeys. The spacious, bright interior offers substantially more elbow room than its predecessor (an extra 34 millimetres in the front and an extra 25 millimetres in the rear), thus enhancing spaciousness. Eye-catching features on the dashboard include a large trim element that matches the trim used for the doors and therefore creates a harmonious wrap-around effect. The seats in the new M-Class have been designed to offer high long-distance comfort and optimum lateral support. All of the key settings can be adjusted electrically. New features include rear seat backrests adjustable for angle and the through-loading feature via the armrest for transporting skis. Folding both backrests as well as the seat cushions forward creates a level load compartment with a capacity of 2010 litres up to the roof lining.

The new M-Class comes as standard with the COMAND Online multimedia system with a high-resolution 17.8 cm colour display provides internet access in the M-Class for the first time. Customers can either browse freely when the vehicle is at a standstill or use a Mercedes-Benz App with pages that load extremely quickly and are also easy to use when the vehicle is on the move. Also standard for all M-Class models is a reversing camera.

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