New-Generation Mercedes-Benz M-Class SUV Hits the Trail
The all-new M-Class SUV makes its on-road debut in the U.S. this week. The 2012 M-Class represents the third generation of a highly successful Mercedes-Benz sport utility vehicle that began the industry trend toward SUVs with a more car-like ride.
While the dramatically styled 2012 M-Class sits about 3/4-inch lower
than the previous model, the new SUV is nearly an inch longer and a
half-inch wider. This eye-catching interpretation of a modern SUV makes
a strong presence that projects trend-setting design and quality.
Mercedes-Benz begins the 2012 model year with two M-Class models – the
thrifty ML350 BlueTEC diesel now has considerably more power (240
horsepower, 455 lb.-ft. of torque), while the popular ML350 4MATIC is
equipped with a brand new direct-injection V6 engine (302 hp, 273
A Bold Face
The nose of the 2012 M-Class is dominated by a bold front grille that
holds the familiar three-pointed star logo in the center, while a chrome
skid plate curves from the front bumper up toward the grille.
Bracketing the front grille, newly designed headlights are flush-mounted
in the fenders. New LED daytime running lights are recessed in the
Sweeping Side Proportions
Its bold proportions are defined by a relatively long wheelbase and
short overhangs. The lines along the sides appear stretched, including a
high belt line accented with stainless-steel trim, and its roof line
slopes down toward the rear, emphasizing the sportiness of the new
M-Class. Striking chrome luggage rails run the length of the roof.
Reminiscent of previous M-Class models, an angled C-pillar distinguishes
the SUV from its competitors.
A Contemporary Cockpit
The dynamic interior design of the new M-Class underscores the spacious
width of its new cabin and fosters a sense of well-being with elegant
high-quality materials and attention to detail. Interior trim includes
wood and aluminum elements with controls in a silver shadow finish.
Soothing ambient lighting, which can be switched between 3 different
colors, is available as part of the optional Premium 2 package.
A sporty, four-spoke steering wheel frames a hooded twin-gauge
instrument cluster. The left gauge houses the analog speedometer and
fuel gauge, while a tachometer and coolant temperature gauge are on the
right bridged by a 4.5-inch screen that can display a wide range of
useful information, including a trip computer and GPS navigation
The steering wheel holds paddles for shifting the transmission manually
and multifunction buttons for scrolling through menus on the driver’s
display. The buttons can also adjust the audio volume, make and take
phone calls, or activate the voice control system. Newly-designed
stalks on the steering column for turn signals, highbeams, wipers,
cruise control and transmission mode make the new SUV easier than ever
COMAND and Control
Perched at the top center of the dashboard in order to minimize driver
distraction, a seven-inch COMAND display is bordered by large swiveling
air vents. The new head unit comes with a ten-gigabyte music storage
hard drive, SD card slot, and an MP3 compatible CD /DVD player as well
as a Bluetooth interface for wireless audio streaming and hands-free
phone operation, HD/AM/weatherband radio, an FM phase-diversity twin
tuner and a USB port hidden in the storage compartment of the center
An optional hard-drive-based GPS navigation system offers many new
features, including a 3D display, a compass overlay, dynamic route
guidance, the ability to show alternate routes plus the functionality to
record routes while driving. Also optional, a Sirius-XM feature can
provide real-time traffic and weather information on the navigation map.
The 2012 M-Class line also features a new transmission with a more
advanced torque converter lock-up clutch that provides even better fuel
mileage, more responsive driving, quieter operation and increased
durability. The new transmission is also designed to work best with a
new type of low-drag ATF fluid, colored blue instead of the usual red.
302-Horsepower V6 Engine for the ML350 4MATIC
With 302 horsepower and 273 lb.-ft. of torque, the 3.5-liter V6 engine
has 13 percent more power than last year. Assembled in an entirely new
block with 60-degree cylinder angles, the latest V6 doesn’t need a
balance shaft for smooth operation. Like its predecessor, the new
engine has aluminum cylinder heads, pistons and cylinder block (with
cast-in Silitec cylinders), as well as a crankshaft, connecting roads
and valves made of special forged steel.
Direct Fuel Injection
The new V6 engine makes use of industry-leading electronics technology
first used on Mercedes-Benz diesels – electronic fuel injectors that
spray gasoline directly into the combustion chambers rather than
indirect port fuel injection most gasoline engines used in the past.
Featuring a piezo-ceramic crystalline element that changes shape
instantly when electrical current is applied, blazingly fast piezo
injectors make it possible to design very sensitive and precise
injection systems, including the ability to program several small
injections with each piston stroke.
BlueTEC – A Blueprint For The World’s Cleanest Diesels
The ML350 BlueTEC is powered by a purpose-built 3.0-liter V6 diesel, now
with 240 horsepower, an astonishing 455 lb.-ft. of torque and 30
percent better fuel economy than a comparable gasoline engine. Using
several technologies to minimize diesel exhaust emissions, the ML350
BlueTEC begins with a four-valve-per-cylinder diesel featuring centrally
located piezo-electric injectors, CDI direct injection, a
variable-nozzle turbocharger and exhaust gas recirculation.
ATTENTION ASSIST Cautions “Time For A Rest?”
Among the many standard life-saving features on the M-Class is the
innovative ATTENTION ASSIST system that can alert the driver to the
first signs of drowsiness, a factor that causes more than 100,000
accidents a year in the U.S. A steering sensor is coupled to smart
software that uses 70 parameters to establish a unique driver profile
during the first 20 minutes of driving. Between 50 and 112 mph, the
system identifies the erratic steering corrections drivers make as they
begin to get drowsy and triggers an audible warning, and a “Time for a
Rest?” message with a coffee cup icon appears in the instrument cluster.
New iPad Docking Station
Coinciding with the debut of the new M-Class is the launch of the all
new Mercedes-Benz iPad Docking Station. With this new product,
customers are able to utilize their own mobile entertainment. They now
have the capability to watch movies, play music, view pictures, play
games, surf the Internet, all from the convenience of their own iPad
without having to hold it in their hands while in transit.
The iPad Docking Station holds the iPad in place behind the headrests
of the front seats, allowing rear occupants to view. For optimum
viewing, the iPad Docking Station can be rotated up to 90 degrees and
be tilted, while being charged through the vehicle’s electrical system.
This product is a perfect fit for the Mercedes-Benz customer and will be
available for most Mercedes-Benz passenger cars and Sport Utility
Vehicles. This product will be available in September 2011.
The Mercedes-Benz Alabama Plant
Along with the R-Class and GL-Class, the M-Class sport utility vehicle
is produced at the Mercedes-Benz plant in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, which
began production in 1997 with the first-generation M-Class. Since 2001,
more than $600 million has been invested to expand the facility for
production of the three SUV lines.
Content courtesy of mbusa.com