Redesigned in the more ?edgy? Mercedes family styling, the new M-Class also gets more ?slippery? with significant improvements in aerodynamic efficiency.? ?That coupled with two reworked powertrain choices and the next M-Class takes a leadership position in performance and economy with the ML350 4MATIC and ML350 BlueTEC.
The gasoline engine is a refined version of the 3.5-liter V-6 called BlueDirect.? Now rated at 302 horsepower (up from 268 hp) the engine is equipped with a high pressure direct piezo injection system with a fast, multi-spark ignition.?? The result is a significant boost in performance along with a two-mpg increase in fuel economy. ?The other engine, the ML350 BlueTEC, is a completely reworked 3.0-liter V-6 diesel engine, which meets emissions standards in all 50 states and delivers even better performance while achieving a fuel economy level of 20 mpg city and 25 mpg highway. Both engines use the smooth shifting Mercedes seven-speed automatic transmission.
The 4MATIC permanent all-wheel drive system is standard on both models and includes electronic traction control and a new off-road button that allows the driver to select from six transmission modes to optimize the driving dynamics and handling safety to fit the road conditions.? The system also includes Hill Start Assist and Downhill Speed Regulation which uses the cruise control lever to set a downhill speed.
An optional Dynamic Handling Package with an Active Curve System combines with the Airmatic air suspension to control body roll by automatically changing the front and rear roll bar settings.
Development engineers have significantly improved the NVH (Noise, Vibration and Harshness) comfort level. This contributes to the general sense of comfort on board, while also playing its part in driver-fitness safety, especially on long journeys.
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. 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.
Parking or maneuvering off-road is made easier thanks to an electromechanical steering system that provides the optimum level of power assistance to suit the particular driving condition. The SUV also has the tightest turning circle in its market segment, with a 38.7 foot turning radius. At higher speeds, the power assistance is reduced to improve SUV’s handling.
Both active safety and driver-fitness safety in the new M-Class are further improved by a drowsiness detection system, the anticipatory safety system, a tire pressure loss warning system and Brake Assist. Optional safety equipment includes features like night vision, Lane Keep Assist, Blind Spot Assist, Distronic Plus active cruise control and Active Park Assist.
Prices have not been announced, but should start at about the same level as the 2011 models which are about $48,000 for the gasoline version and $52,000 for the diesel.