MONTVALE, NJ – Mercedes has introduced its third-generation Mercedes M-Class. The 2012-MY M-Class will debut at retail in September 2011 and includes two models, the ML350 4MATIC and ML350 BlueTEC.
Performance and Handling
At launch, Mercedes said there will be two models available in the U.S. The ML350 BlueTEC 4MATIC produces 240 hp and 455 lb.-ft. of torque, with an estimated mpg 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. The ML350 BlueTEC model uses a redesigned 3.0L V-6 diesel engine, which meets emissions standards in all 50 states, Mercedes stated.
Mercedes added the Agility Control adaptive damping system to the M-Series models, which is designed to enhance passenger comfort on uneven roads. The automaker said that during hard driving or abrupt evasive maneuvers, the shock absorbers become firmer to ensure stability. The ML350 BlueTEC 4MATIC and ML350 4MATIC feature 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 an off-road transmission mode.
Other features include Hill Start Assist and the Hold function, which 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.
The optional Dynamic Handling Package features active roll stabilization using the company’s new Active Curve System combined with Airmatic air suspension, Adaptive Damping System (ADS) and 20-inch 5-spoke alloy wheels.
The automaker also offers an “ON&OFFROAD” package for the M-Class, which uses six transmission modes to optimize handling for on- and off-road driving conditions. One automatic mode, two dedicated off-road modes, and three on-road modes are available.
Mercedes said it optimized the design of the front bumper, roof spoiler, and A-pillars for low wind resistance. In the U.S., available wheels range from standard 19-inch Twin-Spoke alloy wheels to 20-inch wheels.
The M-Series’ interior offers more interior room than in previous model years, with 1.34 inches more in the front, .98 inches in the rear. Interior trim comes in four wood finishes or aluminum. The instrument cluster features a 4.5-inch display between the dials. Occupants can adjust the driver and passenger seats’ seat height, backrest rake, seat cushion angle, and reach. Interior colors come in black, almond beige, and grey. With the Sport Interior package, a microfiber and leather combination is available along with premium or two-tone leather.
The new M-Class comes standard with a new audio head unit with a 7-inch color display, Bluetooth audio streaming and telephony, phonebook download, 6-disc CD/DVD/MP3/ AM/FM /weather band radio, HD Radio, album cover art, auxiliary input, and a USB port. As part of the optional Premium 1 package, customers receive hard-drive based navigation, SIRIUS traffic and weather, 3D city models, intermediate navigation destinations, and area avoidance.
The M-Series comes with nine standard airbags, which includes a knee-level airbag for the driver; side-impact airbags for the driver, front passenger, and the rear row of seats; and window-level airbags across both rows of seats from the A to the C-pillar.
Other systems include a number of those available on Mercedes’ S- and E-Class models. Standard equipment includes the drowsiness detection system Attention Assist, the anticipatory safety system Pre-Safe, a tire pressure loss warning system, and Brake Assist (BAS). The optional lighting package comes with Night View Assist Plus, with pedestrian detection; Lane Keeping Assist (active/passive); Blind Spot Assist (active/passive); Distronic Plus, and BAS Plus (which works with Distronic Plus); Active Park Assist and a rear-view camera.