The third generation of the Mercedes-Benz M-Class sets a new benchmark in the SUV segment with its bold new design and low fuel consumption, and continues to innovate in the way it combines agility with superior comfort. Highlights of the 2012 M-Class include 4MATIC permanent all-wheel drive, new developments to the chassis and innovative driving dynamics, all of which improve performance in both on-road and off-road situations. It features the new active and passive safety features that are now familiar for Mercedes-Benz. A characteristic body design together with a comfortable and versatile interior enhances the driving experience in the new M-Class.
The all-new 2012MY M-Class will make its U.S. retail debut in September 2011 and includes two models: ML350 4MATIC and ML350 BlueTEC.
Dr. Thomas Weber, Member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG for Group Research and Mercedes-Benz Cars development, commented: "The M-Class embodies all the automotive experience that we have accumulated over 125 years and thus represents - in short - a quantum leap in terms of efficiency, safety, agility and design!"
Long-distance runner: high efficiency provides extensive range
State-of-the-art engines and a comprehensive range of fuel efficiency measures all contribute to delivering superb energy efficiency. BlueTEC diesel engines and the new generation of BlueDIRECT gasoline engines provide the starting point for the excellent efficiency of the new M-Class.
The ML350 BlueTEC uses a completely reworked 3.0-liter V6 engine, which meets emissions standards in all 50 states and delivers far better performance, yet with considerably reduced fuel consumption. The efficiency improvements have been achieved, above all, through the use of the innovative TWAS (twinwire- arc spraying) technology - in use since 2005 in AMG's successful highperformance engines. The positive results at AMG have led Mercedes-Benz to adapt this cylinder wall coating technology for use in the V6 diesel engine as well. The process reduces internal friction in the engine significantly. At the same time, the weight has been reduced by 9.5 lbs., as there is no longer any need for the grey cast iron cylinder liners that, until now, had to be pressed into the engine block. The benefits are striking: with these measures alone, fuel consumption could be reduced by around 3 percent.
A comparison of the data with the corresponding predecessor models:
|ML350 BlueTEC 4MATIC (estimated)||ML350 BlueTEC 4MATIC (Predecessor)|
|Number of cylinders||6||6|
|Rated output hp||240||210|
|Max torque lb-ft||455||400|
|Estimated U.S. Fuel Economy||20/25 (est.)||18/25|
|Emissions standard||50-state / EU6||50-state / EU5|
The ML350 4MATIC gasoline-engine model, on the other hand, delivers impressive performance thanks to the new BlueDIRECT engine generation. The key is direct gasoline injection system with spray-guided combustion and new piezo injectors that have an injection pressure of 2,900 psi, together with fast, multi-spark ignition and a new combustion process. A comparison of the data:
|2012 ML350 4MATIC||2011 ML350 4MATIC
|Number of cylinders||6||6|
|Rated output hp||302||268|
|Max torque lb-ft||273||258|
|Fuel Economy (estimated)||17 / 22 (est.)||15 / 20|
Attention to detail: a fine finish adds efficiency
The excellent fuel economy is supported by a comprehensive package of BlueEFFICIENCY measures as well as by this state-of-the-art engineering. These measures include the new seven-speed automatic transmission with a more fuel-efficient torque converter, friction optimized bearings and a transmission oil thermal management system. Low-friction axle drives and electromechanical steering also contribute in reducing fuel consumption.
The optimized belt drive system with decoupler, together with on-demand control of all auxiliary components and pumps, also help to reduce the energy requirements of the 2012 M-Class. The oil and water pumps in the engine, as well as the fuel pump in the rear of the vehicle, are only activated according to actual need. The same control logic is used in the air conditioning systems. In these, the coolant compressor only runs when necessary. A key factor in the diesel engines is also the optimization of the flow and backpressure in the exhaust system with its SCR (Selective Catalytic Reduction) emission control technology.
A consistent use of lightweight construction techniques has enabled the development engineers to keep the weight of the M-Class on a par with that of its predecessor, despite more equipment. The hood and fenders, for example, are made out of light and yet very strong aluminum alloys, while the cross member for the instrument panel is made of magnesium.