Having changed the landscape of off-road vehicle development on its
arrival seven years ago, the Mercedes-Benz M-Class has stepped up
another gear. After its premiere at the 2005 Detroit Auto Show, the new
M-Class will be introduced onto the US market in the spring of next
year and in Europe next summer.
You need look no further than the design of the new M-Class, with its
beguiling blend of heavily contoured surfaces and taut lines, to admire
the majestic character of the second-generation Off-Roader. The
swept-back windscreen, striking front wings and rising shoulderline of
the new car set the unashamedly sporting tone, a theme developed by the
proportions of the body. The new M-Class is 150 mm longer, 71 mm wider
and 9 mm lower on the road than its predecessor and its wheelbase has
grown by 95 mm to 2915 mm.
Three of the four engines available for the 2005 model are hot off the
press and outstrip the output and torque of the power units for the
outgoing model to the tune of up to 38 per cent. Cutting-edge
drive-system technology and impressive aerodynamics (the Cd value is
down to 0.34 from 0.39 previously) combine to cut fuel consumption by
as much as 10 per cent.
The V6 diesel engine with third-generation common-rail direct
injection, which takes the place of the outgoing five-cylinder in-line
unit in the range, is celebrating its series-production premiere. Put
to work under the bonnet of the new ML 320 CDI, the new power unit
delivers 224 hp and places a maximum of 510 Nm of torque on tap from
1600 rpm. Also on hand to offer the twin benefits of six-cylinder
comfort and dynamism is the new ML 280 CDI, serving up 190 hp and a
peak torque of 440 Nm. This diesel model manages 30 mpg (NEDC
combined), making the new M-Class one of the most economical
off-roaders in its class. Another new arrival is the V6 petrol unit
powering the ML 350 - your ticket to 272 hp and maximum torque of 350
Nm. The engine range is headed by the proven eight-cylinder unit at the
heart of the ML 500, which now delivers 306 hp.
The globally unique seven-speed automatic transmission 7G-TRONIC is
fitted as standard in all variants of the new M-Class. Intelligent
shift management allows the transmission to make optimum use of the
engine's enviable reserves of power, whilst at the same time ensuring
that the M-Class is an even less frequent visitor to the fuel pumps
than ever before. 7G-TRONIC can now be operated electronically using a
selector level positioned close to the steering wheel, technology which
Mercedes-Benz has christened DIRECT SELECT. Additional steering-wheel
gearshift buttons, meanwhile, enable the driver to glide manually
through the seven gears with the minimum of fuss.
Ready for the rough: the off-road package with differential locks and
Mercedes-Benz has taken the permanent four-wheel drive and 4ETS
traction systems to the next level by incorporating additional
functions such as a downhill driving aid, Start-off Assist and the
off-road ABS system. The M-Class can be ordered with two different
variants of the four-wheel drive system, allowing it to meet the
varying requirements of off-road drivers: a new off-road package is
available as an optional extra, allowing the M-Class to master even the
toughest routes across rough terrain. Among its primary features are a
two-speed transfer case with an off-road ratio, manually or
automatically selectable differential locks (100 per cent) between the
front and rear axle and on the rear axle, and a modified version of the
AIRMATIC air suspension system tailored to off-road driving, which
raises ground clearance by 110 mm to as much as 291 mm and the
vehicle's fording depth to a maximum of 600 mm.
The air suspension also significantly increases ride comfort, which is
why Mercedes-Benz offers a road-tweaked version of this technology as
an option (not as part of the off-road package). AIRMATIC teams up as
standard with the Adaptive Damping System (ADS), which adjusts the
responses of the shock absorbers to the situation in hand, to open the
door to a new dimension in driving dynamics and ride comfort.
The new M-Class is also fitted with re-developed front and rear
suspension. The double-wishbone front suspension makes a significant
contribution to minimising road roar and tyre vibration and ensures
impressive driving dynamics with its raised aluminium wishbones. The
rear axle, meanwhile, has four-link suspension.
Standard-fitted light-alloy wheels and wide 235/65 R 17 (V6 models) or
255/55 R 18 (V8 model) tyres reinforce the sporting pedigree of the new
A new era in safety: PRE-SAFE® makes its debut in this vehicle class
The Mercedes-Benz M-Class also sets the pace for other off-roaders to
follow in terms of safety. Its occupant protection system is
underpinned by a self-supporting body structure with large deformation
zones in the front and rear ends and a wealth of top-class
state-of-the-art technology fitted as standard. This includes adaptive
two-stage airbags for the driver and front passenger, front sidebags
and windowbags, as well as belt tensioners and belt force limiters for
all seats. In the event of a rear-end collision, the newly developed
NECK-PRO crash-responsive head restraints provide additional protection
for the driver and front passenger.
With the option of adding the anticipatory occupant protection system
PRE-SAFE® to the mix, the new Mercedes Off-Roader raises the bar in
its class. This multi-award-winning technology provides a reflex
response to critical driving situations where an accident threatens to
occur, preparing the car and occupants for a collision. PRE-SAFE® acts
in advance to tighten the driver and front passenger seat belts, bring
the fore-and-aft setting and the cushion and backrest angle of the
electrically adjustable front passenger seat (optional) into a more
favourable position and close the sunroof (optional) if the vehicle is
about to overturn.
It is by forming an unparalleled synergy of active and passive safety
that PRE-SAFE® can prepare car and occupants for a possible impact.
The system is based on a link-up with the anti-lock braking system
(ABS), Brake Assist and the Electronic Stability Program (ESPŇ ),
whose sensors identify dangerous driving manoeuvres. PRE-SAFE® uses
the data from these sensors to optimise occupant protection before a
The new M-Class also boasts exceptional long-term quality - another
Mercedes trademark. Part of the standard specification for the
Off-Roader is a new type of paint finish developed on the back of
nano-technology, which made its series-production debut in
Mercedes-Benz vehicles. Offering significantly improved scratch
resistance compared to conventional non-metallic or metallic paint
finishes, nano-particle clearcoat provides a noticeably enhanced shine.
Like all Mercedes passenger cars, the M-Class also comes with the
30-year MobiloLife mobility and value-retention warranty.
Up there with the best: greater comfort and more space
The interior of the new M-Class also exhibits typical Mercedes quality,
thanks to higher-quality materials, more pleasant touch and feel
characteristics and significantly improved spaciousness for all the
vehicle's passengers. For example, at 880 mm, the distance between
the front and rear seats is 15 mm greater than that in the outgoing
model, achieving a level more familiar in a luxury-class saloon.
Knee-room for the rear passengers has been increased by 35 mm and elbow
width by 32 mm.
M-Class customers can select the seats for their new Off-Roader to suit
their personal comfort requirements. In addition to the standard-fitted
multi-adjustable front seats, sports seats with special backrest
contours can also be specified.
Up to 2050 litres of load capacity offers ample space for luggage and
The cushions and backrests of the rear seats are split 63:37 and can be
folded down. Removable cushions can be ordered as an option, creating a
level loading surface stretching 2.10 metres in length through the rear
of the car. Maximum load capacity stands at 2050 litres, exceeding that
offered by its predecessor model by 30 litres (VDA measuring method).
The proven EASY PACK system makes the boot area of the M-Class easier
to load and unload. Among other features, it can be supplied as an
option with an electrically operated tailgate and a package designed to
secure items safely in place in the load area.
State-of-the-art assistance systems more familiar from luxury-class
Mercedes models help to relieve the stress on the driver, raise comfort
and further improve safety. The M-Class is available as an option with
the newly developed multi-zone THERMOTRONIC automatic climate control
system, the PARKTRONIC parking aid and the control and display system
COMAND APS with Europe-wide DVD navigation. Bi-xenon headlamps with the
Active Light System and the cornering light function (optional) enhance
driving safety during the hours of darkness.
UK cars will arrive in the autumn of 2005. Prices and specification
will be announced shortly before then - in the meantime the existing
range is still available.