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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.

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A comparison of the data with the corresponding predecessor models:

  ML350
BlueTEC
4MATIC
(estimated)
ML350 BlueTEC
4MATIC
(Predecessor)
Number of cylinders 6 6
Displacement cc 2987 2987
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
(predecessor)
Number of cylinders 6 6
Displacement cc 3498 3498
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.

Detailed analysis: the “energy-transparent vehicle”

The “energy-transparent vehicle” development tool, created in-house
by Mercedes-Benz, was used for the first time as part of the 2012
M-Class development process. The pioneering opportunities presented by
this method, which detects optimization possibilities right down to even
the most minute component, will be exploited on all new models in the
future. An exact and meticulous examination of the flow of energy
throughout the vehicle (tank-towheel) helps the development engineers to
optimize every single assembly that has an impact on fuel consumption,
right down to individual wheel bearings.

Air flow optimization

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 optimized design of the front bumper, A-pillars and the
roof spoiler, plus numerous other detailed improvements. These include:

  • Sealing around the radiator section
  • Sealed joints between the hood and the headlamps
  • Front wheel spoilers
  • Air outlets in the front wheel well liners
  • Redesigned exterior mirror housings
  • Optimized roof spoiler
  • Underfloor and engine compartment paneling
  • Aerodynamically optimized light-alloy wheels

The result: excellent comfort and driving dynamics

A high level of comfort, aggressive on- and off-road handling are
part of the standard equipment on the new M-Class. For the first time,
the steel suspension of the M-Class chassis now includes AGILITY CONTROL
adaptive damping. During normal driving on only moderately uneven roads
or during slow off-road driving, the system responds with a soft ride
that enhances the occupants’ comfort as well as the car’s off-road
capability. In order to maintain this sense of comfort during hard
driving or abrupt evasive maneuvers, the shock absorbers become firmer,
ensuring a high level of driving stability. The M-Class driver is
supported by an electromechanical steering system that provides the
optimum level of power assistance to suit the particular driving
condition. Parking or maneuvering off-road is made easier thanks to
maximum power assistance. The SUV also features the tightest turning
circle in its market segment, with a 180-degree turn negotiated within a
circle diameter of just 38.7 feet. At higher speeds, the power
assistance is reduced to improve SUV’s handling.

For those who want to venture off paved roads, the ML350 BlueTEC
4MATIC and ML350 4MATIC feature comprehensive traction systems as part
of their standard equipment, including the permanent 4MATIC all-wheel
drive system and the electronic traction control system ETS, as well as
an off-road button that activates a special off-road transmission mode.

  • To improve traction, the slip thresholds and shift points of the automatic transmission have been raised
  • A flatter accelerator pedal curve improves the sensitivity with which the driver can accelerate
  • Off-road ABS provides optimum braking on a loose surface

Hill Start Assist and the HOLD function are further features that
help the driver pull away on a slope. Downhill Speed Regulation, or DSR,
enables the M-Class to automatically maintain the speed set via the
cruise control lever.

Full program: ON&OFFROAD package

The ON&OFFROAD package for the new M-Class (available next year
in the U.S.) uses a range of six transmission modes to optimize driving
dynamics and handling safety, by ensuring that the necessary drive
control is available to cope with the very different driving conditions
on and off-road. One automatic mode, two dedicated off-road modes and
three on-road modes are available.

The system is controlled via a rotary knob on the center console. The
settings for AIRMATIC, and the powertrain, are adapted to accommodate
these specific requirements. The six transmission modes in detail:

  • Automatic – covers most everyday driving operations
  • Offroad 1 – light terrain, dirt roads and tracks
  • Offroad 2 – challenging off-road terrain with hilly stretches
  • Winter – for driving in wintry conditions on slippery roads, on snow, ice or with snow chains
  • Sport – more adventurous, aggressive driving on winding roads
  • Trailer – optimizes acceleration, maneuvering and braking with a trailer

Despite so many options, the setting is made intuitively, and the
program selected is shown in the multifunction display as well as in
very realistic, almost photo-quality imagery on the screen of the COMAND
system. Irrespective of which underlying program is set, the gear
reduction, lock, DSR or the self-leveling suspension of the AIRMATIC
system can all be adjusted individually. As with the basic settings of
the ON&OFFROAD package, it is practically impossible for the driver
to make mistakes. Conflicting settings, which might have a negative
impact on handling, safety or traction, are ruled out. If there is any
doubt, the system will revert to automatic mode.

In terms of “hardware”, the ON&OFFROAD package consists of a skid
plate, a two-stage transfer case with reduction gear, a longitudinal
differential (lowrange) lock and enhanced AIRMATIC functionality that
allows a maximum ground clearance of 11.2 inches and a fording depth of
23.6 inches.

King of the Curve

The optional Dynamic Handling Package features active roll
stabilization using the new ACTIVE CURVE SYSTEM combined with AIRMATIC
air suspension, Adaptive Damping System (ADS) and 20-inch 5-spoke alloy
wheels. This option uses active anti-roll bars on the front and rear
axles, which it controls automatically irrespective of lateral
acceleration, speed or the switch setting of the ADS Comfort/Sport
switch. ACTIVE CURVE SYSTEM compensates for the roll angle of the body
through turns, delivering significant improvement in both agility and
driving pleasure. At the same time the system increases driving
stability and thus safety, especially at high speeds. Improved ride
comfort both on winding stretches of road and on straight highways,
together with enhanced options for off-road driving, are also among the
benefits of the ACTIVE CURVE SYSTEM.

Easy does it: attention to detail provides comfort

The 2012 M-Class promises relaxed and 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 (Noise, Vibration,
Harshness) comfort level. This is an important factor contributing to
the general sense of comfort on board, while 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 insulation.

These measures at a glance:

  • Improved rigidity of the front end structure thanks to struts between the lines of the upper and lower longitudinal members
  • Increased comfort, yet also reduction in weight, thanks to hybrid construction of front module
  • Especially robust cockpit cross member made in lightweight magnesium alloy
  • Intelligent use of acoustic insulation: In the production plants,
    insulation is fitted to the bodyshell where it is needed by
    computer-controlled robots. In the firewall area, the mass distribution
    of the insulation material used may vary in places in order to
    counteract potential noise penetration.
  • Aluminum transmission cross member with integrated vibration damper in diesel models
  • Vibrationally optimized 7-speed automatic transmission with
    twin-turbine damper and, in the diesel models, a centrifugal pendulum
  • Electronically-mapped hydraulic engine mounts in diesel models
  • Standard chassis with AGILITY CONTROL adaptive damping, as an
    option: Dynamic Handling Package with AIRMATIC air suspension with
    adaptive damping and ACTIVE CURVE SYSTEM
  • Electromechanical steering
  • Component compartment wall in plastic in order to minimize penetration of noise from engine compartment into the interior
  • External noise minimized through acoustic encapsulation of engines
  • High-insulation acoustic windscreen
  • Additional aero-acoustic sealing in the side sections

Well thought-out: passive 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
real accident situations. 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 systems.

The front end structure, with its high energy-absorption potential,
is essentially made up of the firewall and two lines of longitudinal
members, anchored at the A-pillars. Two vertical members link the
longitudinal members, which further increase deformation resistance. The
necessary rigidity and strength of the floor assembly is provided by a
robust structure made up of a separate center tunnel plus separate
longitudinal members along each side, attached to the side wall. These
are supported by cross members anchored to the floor as well as by a
connecting member to the B-pillar as support for the front structure.
The extremely robust side wall assembly comprises, quite apart from the
longitudinal members described above and the side roof frame, A-pillars
in a dual-casing design, internally reinforced with high strength steel.
In a side collision, the cross member beneath the cowl, the cross
member between the longitudinal members underneath the pedal floor, the
high-strength-steel cross member beneath the driver’s seat and the
magnesium-alloy cross member underneath the instrument panel, as well as
the front roof frame, ensure the highest possible stability of the
occupant cell. The positioning of the fuel tank in front of the rear
axle and of the filler neck over the rear axle increases the available
deformation distance, maximizing the level of energy absorption in the
event of a rear-end collision. This is achieved, above all, through the
boxshaped design of the rear longitudinal members.

The complex restraint system offers the highest possible protection.
Nine standard airbags, which activate as they are needed, according to
the type and severity of the accident, can reduce the stresses exerted
on the occupants. The individual components in detail:

  • Two-stage adaptive airbags for the driver and front passenger
  • Kneebag for the driver
  • Sidebags for driver and front passenger (combined thorax/pelvis bags)
  • Sidebags in the rear row of seats
  • Windowbags across both rows of seats from the A to the C-pillar
  • 3-point seat belts on all five seats
  • Pyrotechnic reel tensioners and permanent belt force limiters as
    well as electrically reversible belt tensioners in the front, reel
    tensioners and single-stage force limiters for the outer seats in the
    rear
  • ISOFIX child seat anchorage
  • Belt height adjustment for driver and front passenger
  • Weight recognition system with deactivation of the front passenger airbag if a special Mercedes-Benz child seat is used.
  • In a rear-end collision, a passive head restraint system developed
    specifically for this purpose can reduce the forces exerted on
    occupants.

Complementing the active safety systems such as the standard Brake
Assist (BAS) or the optional BAS PLUS, which can prevent an accident or
reduce its severity, the passive measures that contribute to pedestrian
safety have also been further improved in the 2012 M-Class.

Intelligent partner: protects its occupants as well as others

Both active safety and driver-fitness safety in the new M-Class are
further improved by Assistance Systems that are already familiar,
primarily from the S- and E-Class. Standard equipment includes the
drowsiness detection system ATTENTION ASSIST, the anticipatory safety
system PRE-SAFE® and a tire pressure loss warning system and Brake
Assist (BAS). The following Assistance Systems, some of them active, are
available as additional equipment options:

  • Lighting Package with specific lighting functions
  • Night View Assist Plus with pedestrian detection
  • Lane Keeping Assist – active/passive
  • Blind Spot Assist – active/passive
  • DISTRONIC PLUS
  • BAS PLUS (in conjunction with DISTRONIC PLUS)
  • PRE-SAFE® Brake with autonomous emergency braking (in conjunction with DISTRONIC PLUS)

Active Park Assist and the reversing camera enhance both safety and convenience.

Feature line: effortlessly superior, high-quality design

The body design of this new-generation model, with the very typical
shape of its C-pillar, is full of character and immediately recognizable
as an M-Class. Its styling, high-quality appeal and excellent ease of
operation combine to give it a forceful 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. The new styling of the headlamps conveys a
high-quality, exclusive and innovative impression. The LED daytime
running lamps are set in chrome inserts integrated into the bumpers. A
deeper, broad, chrome-effect skid plate continues down from the lower
edge of the radiator grille, reinforcing the impressive overall
appearance.

Seen from the side, the elongated lines give formal emphasis to the
on-road 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 early
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 windshield. This, together with the similarly
wrap-around effect of the two-part taillights with LED fiber-optic
technology, and the lowered roof with its large roof spoiler, add up to
an overall seamless design. The rear bumper, which features an
integrated chrome load sill guard in a new “wing design,” defines the
characteristic appearance of the SUV’s rear end. The chrome finish of
other product features, such as the roof rails, the beltline trim strip
and the load compartment handle, emphasize the highquality appeal of the
exterior.

In the U.S., available wheels range from the standard 19″ Twin-Spoke
alloy wheel through to 20-inch wheels with an elegant, high-quality
appeal.

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Your wellbeing included: the interior of the new M-Class

A look at the interior design immediately demonstrates the way the
authentic SUV experience is combined with the sense of comfort inherent
in a premium Mercedes-Benz sedan. While the expressive design of the
center stack embodies the power of an SUV, the gentle downward curve of
the dashboard on the front passenger side gives a sense of spaciousness,
thus emphasizing the vehicle’s comfort. The roomy and well-lit interior
offers noticeably more elbow room than its predecessor (1.34 inches
more in the front, .98 inches in the rear). An eye-catching feature of
the instrument panel is large decorative wood trim that is continued
along the doors in a seamless wrap-around effect. These generously
proportioned trim elements, in a three-dimensional design, are available
in four high-quality wood finishes, or in aluminum. The interior of the
new Mercedes-Benz M-Class can thus be appointed to reflect either
exclusive refinement or sporty sophistication, according to the
customer’s taste. The door handles and seat adjustment switches have
been inset with precision craftsmanship into the side trim. The door
center panels feature distinctive decorative stitching, with a separate,
exclusive look for the optional Sports package.

The state-of-the-art instrument cluster with its two clear and easy
to read round dials and a large, 4.5 in display between them, impresses
with the high-quality look of its design. Dominating the center of the
dashboard is the large screen for the COMAND system. The control and
display concept was developed specifically with user-friendly operation
in mind. In the M-Class, Mercedes- Benz is introducing an advanced
ergonomic concept that will find its way into all future new models.
Just one element of this is the improved accessibility of the turn
signal stalk on the steering column. All control levers can now be
clearly seen. The cruise control lever has been moved to the lower
position.

Infotainment, navigation and communication systems are intuitive and
easy to operate using the metal Central Controller located on the center
console. Vertical rectangular air vents on either side of the large
screen serve to emphasize the more functional aspects of the SUV. The
outer air vents are the same shape but in this case horizontally
positioned, thus giving added design flair. The center console
incorporates an armrest with integrated handrest, in front of which is
located the Central Controller and various switches.

The seats in the 2012 M-Class are designed to provide a high level of
comfort on long journeys as well as excellent lateral support. All
important parameters can be electrically adjusted. These include the
adjustment of seat height, backrest rake, seat cushion angle and reach.
Generous seat adjustment travel of more than 13.75 inches lengthways and
more than 3.5 inches in height ensure that M-Class drivers will always
find the ideal seating position.

A high level of variability characterizes the rear seats, which are
fitted with an armrest and cupholder. The backrest angle adjustment on
the rear seats is new, as is the optional through-loading feature above
the armrest for the transport of skis. Folding both backrests as well as
the seat cushions forward creates a level load compartment with a
capacity of 71 cubic ft. up to the roof liner.

Three colors are available for the interior appointments: black,
almond beige and grey. In conjunction with the Sport Interior package,
the combination of DINAMICA microfiber and black M-B TEX man-made
leather, or premium leather and black two-tone leather is also
available.

For both eye and ear: good entertainment and the best information

The new M-Class comes standard with a new audio headunit with a
7-inch color display, Bluetooth audio streaming and telephony, phonebook
download, 6-disc CD/DVD/MP3/ AM/FM /weatherband radio, HD Radio, album
cover art, auxiliary input and USB port.

As part of the optional Premium 1 package, customers receive
hard-drive based navigation, SIRIUS traffic & weather, 3D city
models, intermediate navigation destinations, and area avoidance.

The model range

At market launch of the 2012 M-Class, there will be two models
available in the U.S. The ML350 BlueTEC 4MATIC delivers an output of 240
hp and 455 lbft of torque, with an estimated fuel consumption of 20
city 25 highway. With 302 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque, the
gasoline-engine ML350 4MATIC has an estimated fuel economy of 17/22.

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