The new M-Class has a new headlamps that come with the optional Intelligent Light System (ILS). The LED daytime running lamps are set in chrome inserts integrated into the bumpers. A deeper, broad, chrome-effect underguard continues down from the lower edge of the characteristic radiator grille, with the prominent three point star in the middle. Characteristic of the M-Class is how no pillar is visible in the transition from the rear side window through to the rear windscreen. The rear is defined by the bumper, which features an integrated chrome-effect load sill guard in a new “wing design”, the two-part rear light unit with LED fibre-optic technology, and the lowered roof with its large roof spoiler. As befits a product of its class, the M-Class has lots of chrome finish including the roof rails, the beltline trim strip and the load compartment handle, to mention a few.
In the ML 250 BlueTEC, the 3.0-litre V6 of the previous model is replaced by the thrifty 2.2L four-cylinder EU6-standard unit that makes 204 hp and 500 Nm torque. This is one of the cleanest diesels i nthe world now with a NEDC (New European Driving Cycle) fuel efficiency of 6.0 L /100 km or 16.67 kpl. 0-100kph in 9 seconds and a top speed of 210 kph.
The ML 350 BlueTEC 4MATIC uses a completely reworked 3.0-litre V6 engine, which also more than meets the EU6 emissions standard and delivers far better performance, yet with considerably reduced fuel consumption ( around 14.7 kpl or 6.8 l/100km NEDC). 0-100kph in 7.4 seconds and a top speed of 224 kph.
Mercedes-Benz borrows from AMG’s use of the innovative TWAS (twin-wire-arc spraying) technology. This cylinder wall coating technology reduces internal friction in the engine significantly. At the same time, the weight has been reduced by 4.3 kg, 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.
In the ML 350 4MATIC BlueEFFICIENCY petrol engine model, you’ll find the 3.5L V6 BlueDIRECT the third-generation direct petrol injection system with spray-guided combustion and new piezo injectors that have an injection pressure of 200 bar, together with fast, multi-spark ignition and a new stratified combustion process. The results are 306 horses, 370 Nm of torque and a claimed NEDC fuel efficiency of 8.5 L per 100km or 11.7kpl. 0-100kph in 7.6 seconds and a top speed of 235 kph.
Twin turbocharges ( one low pressure, one high pressure) connected in series, ensure the new engines produce more power at lower fuel consumption than predecessors.
Mercedes-Benz also has for the first time used a technique developed in-house, something it calls the ‘energy transparent vehicle’ where an exact and meticulous examination of the flow of energy throughout the vehicle (tank-to-wheel) helps the development engineers to optimise every single assembly that has an impact on fuel consumption, right down to individual wheel bearings.
With a drag coefficient, or Cd value, of 0.32, the new M-Class (ML 250 BlueTEC) also sets a new best figure for this vehicle class.The key factor determining the low wind resistance is the aerodynamic efficiency of the basic bodyshell, including the optimised design of the front bumper with its integrated spoiler, of the A‑pillars and of the roof spoiler, plus numerous other detailed improvements. Sealing around the radiator section, sealed joints between the bonnet and the headlamps, front wheel spoilers, air outlets in the front wheel well liners are some of the design changes up front that improve aerodynamic efficiency. Redesigned exterior mirror housings, Optimised roof spoiler and side spoilers on the rear window, underfloor and engine compartment panelling are the others. The side spoilers on the windows are exclusive to the ML 250 BlueTEC 4MATIC. The diesel models also get aerodynamically optimised light-alloy wheels.
Stunning fuel efficiency numbers
Mercedes-Benz says, the ML 250 BlueTEC 4MATIC with the revolutionary 2.2L BlueTEC engine, can cover 1170 kms with a 70 litre tank, tick the optional 93-litre tank, the massive SUV can even cover up to 1500 kilometres between refuelling stops!
In addition to the ECO start/stop function that comes as standard, measures implemented to achieve excellent fuel efficiency include the new seven-speed 7G-TRONIC PLUS automatic transmission with a new fuel-economy converter, friction-optimised bearings and a transmission oil thermal management system. Low-friction axle drives, electric steering and tyres with low rolling resistance also play their part in reducing fuel consumption.
The optimised belt drive system with decoupler, together with on-demand control of all ancillary components and pumps, also helps to reduce the energy requirements of the new M-Class. The oil and water pumps in the engine, as well as the fuel pump in the rear section of the vehicle, are only activated according to actual need. The same control logic is used in the THERMATIC and THERMOTRONIC air conditioning systems. In these, the coolant compressor only runs when necessary. A key factor in the diesel engines is also the optimisation that has been undertaken of the flow and counterpressure in the exhaust system with its SCR (Selective Catalytic Reduction) emission control technology.
Its no secret that vehicles seem to put on kilograms with each generation, thanks to the increase in safety systems emplyed. An intelligent use of lightweight construction techniques has enabled the development engineers to stop the steadily increasing weight spiral. The control arms of the front and rear axles, for example, as also the bonnet and wings, are made out of light and yet very strong aluminium alloys, while the cross member for the instrument panel is made of magnesium.
The re-engineered 7G-TRONIC PLUS, standard on all M-Class models, boasts an integrated ECO start/stop function, even lower converter slip and optimised efficiency. There’s a new torsion damper, which eliminates torsional eccentricities and vibrations in the transmission even more effectively.
The lower the rpm and the lower the number of cylinders, the more severe these can be. With Mercedes-Benz concentrating on downsizing its cylinders for this generation of the M-Class, there’s a conflict between comfort and fuel efficiency. Mercedes-Benz developers resolved this by using a so-called twin-turbine damper, which is also fitted with a centrifugal pendulum on the diesel models. Depending on the rpm, this moves the centre of mass and allows comfortable operation even in the most economical operating range. Furthermore, the optimised damping allows a marked reduction in the slip of the torque converter lockup clutch even under low loads, which also contributes to fuel savings. The optimised damping of rotational irregularities and vibrations in the transmission allows an even faster response to driver commands via the accelerator pedal.
For the first time, the steel suspension of the M-Class chassis now includes selective 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 occupant comfort as well as the car’s off-road capability. When you decide to go wild in the corners, the suspension adapts and works hard.
The ML 350 BlueTEC 4MATIC and ML 350 4MATIC BlueEFFICIENCY get the off road programmes as standard. To improve traction, the slip thresholds and shift points of the 7G-TRONIC PLUS system have been raised, a flatter accelerator pedal curve improves the sensitivity with which the driver can accelerate, off-road ABS ensures optimum braking on a loose surface. Start-off Assist and the HOLD function are further features helping the driver to pull away on a slope. Downhill Speed Regulation, or DSR, enables the M-Class to maintain automatically the speed set via the cruise control lever.
The new M-Class also features the ON&OFFROAD package that features six transmission modes:
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, dynamic driving on winding roads
Trailer – optimises moving off, manoeuvring and braking with a trailer
When you opt for the ON&OFFROAD package you also get an underride guard, a two-stage transfer case with reduction gear, a longitudinal differential lock and enhanced AIRMATIC functionality that allows a maximum ground clearance of 285 millimetres and a fording depth of 600 millimetres.
Active roll stabilisation in the form of the ACTIVE CURVE SYSTEM can be combined as on option with AIRMATIC air suspension with Adaptive Damping System (ADS) as well as with the ON&OFFROAD package.
A Mercedes-Benz, more so India, is nothing if not comfortable. The M-Class takes noise insulation to a level with the new Intelligent use of acoustic insulation. 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.
The interior is a comfortable place also due to a number of features discussed in the article previously. The new vibrationally optimised 7G-TRONIC PLUS with twin-turbine damper and, in the diesel models, a centrifugal pendulum, the AIRMATIC suspension and more like high-insulation acoustic windscreen and additional aero-acoustic sealing in the side sections!