GREENOUGH, MT – Mercedes all-new 2012-MY M-Class, which is the third generation of this SUV, has debuted on U.S. roads. Mercedes released detailed information about this new vehicle.
Performance and Handling
The new M-Class comes in two models, the ML350 BlueTEC, which is powered by a BlueTEC diesel engine, and the ML350 4MATIC, which offers a new V-6 engine. The diesel can produce 240 horsepower and, 455 lb.-ft. of torque and the V-6 can provide 302 hp and 273 lb.-ft. of torque. Mercedes said its diesel gets 30-percent better fuel economy than a comparable gasoline engine. So far the automaker has not released specific fuel economy numbers.
For handling, the 2012 M-Class uses an improved version of the 4MATIC all-wheel-drive system. For wheels and tires, the M-Class offers all-season low-profile tires with a relatively wide track. Both models are fitted with twin-five-spoke 8 x 19-inch alloy wheels shod with 255 / 50 R 19 tires. Optional 20-inch wheels are available as part of Mercedes’ Dynamic Handling Package.
The new M-Class sits about 3/4-inch lower than the previous model. In addition, Mercedes said the new model is nearly an inch longer and a half-inch wider. Mercedes made exterior changes to the new M-Class, including roof line that slopes toward the rear of the vehicle. The automaker also said the “lines along the side appear stretched.” Both of these design elements are intended to emphasize a sportier appearance.
For the vehicle’s interior, trim includes wood and aluminum, and paddles on the steering wheel for manually shifting the transmission. The paddles feature multifunction buttons, which the driver can use for making phone calls, adjusting volume, etc., and for accessing menus on the driver’s display area.
The M-Class will also be compatible with Mercedes-Benz new iPad Docking Station, which holds an iPad in place behind the headrests of the front seats. The new dock will be available in September, 2011, according to the automaker.
The new M-Class features Mercedes COMAND that shows a seven-inch display at the top center area of the dashboard. The head unit linked to the COMAND display comes with a 10-gigabyte music storage hard drive, and SD card slot, and an MP3 compatible CD /DVD player. It also offers 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 in the center storage console. The M-Class also offers an optional hard-drive-based GPS navigation system.
The new M-Class offers the automaker’s Attention Assist system, which can alert a driver, via an audible warning, when he or she gets tired. The system detects fatigue via a steering sensor and on-board software to establish a driver profile. From there, the system can identify erratic driving between speeds of 50 and 112 mph.
Other safety features include Lane Keeping Assist, which can help ensure the driver isn’t drifting into other lanes, Blind Spot Assist, two-stage front airbags, and TPMS.