PREVIEW – The future Mercedes-Benz SUV range

In the forthcoming years, the Stuttgart-based constructor will totally revise its SUV portfolio with new or updated versions.

The biggest premiere of the years to come will be the third generation of the popular M-Klasse mid-sized SUV. The ML will be unveiled in 2011, some say at the middle of the year, others claim the end of it.

As you may already know, the ML, along with its bigger brother, the GL- and the R-Klasse, is assembled at the Tuscaloosa Plant in Alabama, USA. The on-going worldwide economical crisis has determined a reduction in the number of examples produced at the US facility by almost a half, from 130,000 down to 71,000. However, this drastic marketing manouevre will not ruin a bright lifespan for the W 166, the internal designation of the new M-Klasse. Dr. Thomas Weber, chief of the Research & Development Department at Mercedes-Benz, claims that the future ML will be part of the extensive hybrid programme the company will implement on all the models in its automotive lineup. Almost all the versions of this SUV will feature a hybrid powertrain in the next configuration:diesel unit or petrol burner + electric motor + start/stop system + brake energy recovery + electrically-assisted servo variable steering.

Many of the technical components used for the construction of W 166 will be shared with other Mercedes-Benz models, so this immediately means the overall weight of the car will not grow that much, compared to the current model, and last, but not least, will contribute heavily to cost saving. The entry-level hybrid version will be the ML 320 CDI HYBRID, powered by a 2,2 litres 4I diesel + the electric motor producing 20 HP. Other hybrids to come are:

- the ML 400 HYBRID - a 3.5 litres V6 petrol powerplant delivering 306 BHP, linked with a 20 HP electric unit.
- the ML 63 AMG HYBRID – the new 5.4 litres twin-turbo V8 engine capable of 544 BHP + the same electric motor
- the full hybrid ML 500 HYBRID – previewed last year at the IAA in the form of the VISION S 500 PLUG-IN HYBRID concept, this completely new version will feature a 306 BHP V6 petrol-running unit, in pair with a 109 HP electric unit

There will also be conventional powering variants to choose from:

- ML 250 CDI BLUETEC - 204 BHP
- ML 350 CDI BLUETEC – 245 BHP
- ML 300 CGI – 306 BHP V6
- ML 450 – 408 BHP V8
- ML 500 - 435 BHP V8

Sticking to the visual side of the car, the 2012 M-Klasse will be more of a logical aesthetical evolution rather than a complete revolution. The new front fascia will be styled in trend with the new Mercedes design philosophy. The profile will remain as sporty and elegant as in the present, whereas the tail end will receive a complete styling treatment a la E-Klasse. LEDs are sort of a today’s ‘must’, so expect to see them as being part of the headlights and the rear lights. The overall exterior dimensions will not grow significantly, but the new ML will indeed be slightly longer than the outgoing model, although the spy photos we have seen so far are misleading and can trick the unexperienced viewers into seeing a shorter car.

However, the interior of the new ML-Klasse will be roomier(it is still unknown if the car will return to the 7-seat architecture of the first generation) and will be subject of a major change-a completely revised, very dynamic and attractive dashboard will kindly receive its passengers in an exquisite, premium atmosphere, created by an abundance of high-quality materials:leather upholstery in many colour combinations, a great deal of wood or aluminium for the trim and soft, nice-to-touch and visually-pleasant plastics. The new ML will use the three-spoke steering that debuted on the new E-Klasse, as well as some of the buttons, such as the manual control panel for the infotainment system. Speaking about this, the new unit, supervising almost every tiny corner of the car, will be the long-awaited myCOMAND(previewed in 2008, at the Mondial de l’Automobile in Paris, on the ConceptFASCINATION prototype model), with wireless internet capability and an ultra-friendly user interface, containing new or enhanced functions. As expected, the LED display of the myCOMAND will be encased in the upper part of the center console.

The active & pasive safety package offered for the new ML will include many airbags and intelligent self-tensioning seat belts for protecting all the passengers inside the car, and the new assistance systems that were premiered in 2009-Lane Keeping ASSIST, Night View ASSIST Plus(with pedestrian recognition module), Blind Spot ASSIST or Speed Limit ASSIST, the recently prize-awarded ATTENTION ASSIST, and PRE-SAFE.

Although the ML is an SUV, this car has never ever dissapointed its customers when it came to tackling hard, off-road terrains. That is why the Mercedes-Benz engineers are currently working on developing a new, more sophisticated 4MATIC all-wheel-drive architecture, along with the introduction of a clever management system, that enables the driver to adventure on almost any existing surface(tarmac, gravel, snow, sand, rocky paths and others). It is best to mention that the new M-Klasse could also be offered in RWD-only version, as in the case of the GLK-Klasse or the R-Klasse.

To view more spy photos/renderings and read essential data about the new Mercedes-Benz M-Klasse, please feel free to browse the following links:

1. SPY - First photos of a 2012 Mercedes-Benz M-Klasse W166 test prototype

2. SPY - 2012 Mercedes-Benz M-Klasse W166 - New photos galore

3. SPY - 2012 Mercedes-Benz M-Klasse spotted in winter landscape

4. SPY - 2012 Mercedes-Benz M-Klasse (W166) - Artist Impression & Dashboard Photos

5. SPY - 2012 Mercedes-Benz M-Klasse - 'Freezing cold' captures


This year, in the upcoming weeks, Mercedes-Benz will take the wraps off the facelifted version of the R-Klasse crossover. The sales flop mixture between a compact SUV, a MPV and an estate version will receive one more refresh, in an effort to save the low sale figures. However, this time the R-Klasse will suffer a major overhaul of the front fascia, including brand new headlights with LED technology, a larger radiator grille with 3 chromed louvres as well as a new bumper with restyled air intakes. The profile will retain the current look, whereas the rear end will benefit from the addition of updated tail lights, with a similar projector placement as in the case of the GLK-Klasse. The interior will hardly be retouched-only a new steering wheel borrowed from the E-Klasse and a rearrangement of certain controls on the center console. Expect premium materials for personalizing the interior, such as leather upholstery and wood/aluminium for trimming the dashboard and the door panels. No major changes under the engine hood-just slight efficiency improvements of the current powerplants, designed to reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emission. Mercedes-Benz is rumored to be mulling over the possibility of a name change for this model, which should end up badged as GLR-Klasse. What is somehow clear at the moment is that the new R-Klasse FL is expected to be officially revealed at the beginning of March, at the Geneva Motor Show.

To view more spy photos/renderings and read essential data about the new Mercedes-Benz R-Klasse FL, please feel free to browse the following links:

1. SPY - 2010 Mercedes-Benz R-Klasse FL - New photos surface

2. SPY - 2010 Mercedes-Benz R-Klasse FL

3. SPY - 2010 Mercedes-Benz R-Klasse FL - Pilling off the heavy camo

4. Artist Impression - 2010 Mercedes-Benz R-Klasse FL rendered by Reichel Car Design

5. Rendering - 2010 Mercedes-Benz R-Klasse FL(GLR?)

6. Sneak preview of the new Mercedes-Benz R-Klasse FL


The old, but reliable G-Klasse, premiered over 30 years ago, will remain in production and will receive a facelift by the end of this year, just to keep it appealing and up-to-date. The new engines are the most delicious part of the revised Gelandewagen – the new G 500 will be powered by the new 4.6 litres twin-turbo V8, producing 435 BHP;the AMG model, although it is still unclear whether it will be rebadged to G 63 AMG or will remain as G 55 AMG, will be fitted with an engine delivering in excess of 500 BHP.

Read more about the 2011 G-Klasse >> HERE

The next Gelandewagen Leicht, or GL-Klasse, will arrive in 2012;test prototypes are yet to hit the streets and the only relevant stuff we have is a computer-generated image from Autobild, which you can see >> HERE

In the next years, Mercedes-Benz will also complete remaster its small and compact car lineups, the A- & the B-Klasse. Along with several other new versions, customers will also have the choice of a compact SUV, which could possibly be badged BLK-Klasse(internal codename-X 156). The little brother of the GLK could be introduced in 2011 or 2012.

Read more about the BLK-Klasse >> HERE

Source of the photos >> Auto Bild

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