Archive for November 2010

SPY - 2011 Mercedes-Benz C-Klasse Coupe

The launch date of the all new C-Klasse Coupe approaches fast, although it is still 3 months away. Till then, the testing and development phase of the latest addition to the Mercedes-Benz mid-premium models' portfolio goes underway undisturbed;the most recent spy shots reveal two C-Coupe prototypes while being driven on a test track. Both cars show an almost minimal camouflage and thus let our eyes clearly judge the important details of the exterior design.

Check out more spy photos after the jump!

Source of the photos >> SecretNewCars

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Mercedes-Benz TecDay E-Drive: Latest Photos

Press the jump button and experience the latest and most exciting images captured during the Mercedes-Benz TecDay E-Drive special event organized in Valencia, Spain!

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Offroad-Challenge 2010: Germany's best off-road driver romps to victory in a Mercedes-Benz G-Class


Stuttgart, Germany, Nov 30, 2010 – As part of the Offroad Challenge 2010 organised by German magazine ‘auto motor und sport’ in cooperation with Mercedes-Benz and tyre manufacturer Continental, Peter Beyerlein from Plochingen in Baden-Württemberg clinched top spot. The Swabian won the tough final in the USA, claiming the title of Germany's best off-road driver. His prize is the chance to participate in a Mercedes-Benz international press trial drive for four-wheel-drive vehicles. auto motor und sport will run a detailed piece on the winner in early December.

In May this year, more than 500 drivers signed up with auto motor und sport to take part in the Offroad Challenge 2010. A draw finally whittled down the hopeful candidates to 60. In July and September, groups of 20 completed difficult off-road tasks on three off-road courses in Brandenburg, Rheinland-Pfalz and Bavaria. The best three from each preliminary round won the opportunity to travel to the United Statesfor the final.

The challenging off-road course on the Continental test site in Uvalde, Texas, was home to various off-road tests which pushed all the participants to the physical limits. While Volker Betzel from Wermelskirchen was in front for much of the time, Plochingen-based Peter Beyerlein came through in the end to clinch the final.

The three winners:
1. Peter Beyerlein from Plochingen
2. Volker Betzel from Wermelskirchen
3. Peter Schmid from Langenau.

auto motor und sport will be running a feature with the most exciting highlights from the final in the USAin its December 2 edition later this year.

The winner of the Offroad Challenge 2010 can also look forward to another extraordinary driving experience: he will have the opportunity to take part in a Mercedes-Benz international press trial drive for four-wheel drive vehicles, observe up close the off-road experts of the premium car maker at work and get some top tips from them.

auto motor und sport has been covering the Offroad Challenge 2010; Mercedes-Benz supplied the off-road vehicles, while the tyres came courtesy of Continental. GLK, M-Class, GL-Class and G-Class vehicles were all put through their paces. The final assessment exercise on the off-road course at the test site in Uvalde was completed in the G-Class. A firm fixture in the Mercedes-Benz model range since 1979, it has long since been regarded as the off-roader par excellence. The "G" has been constantly honed over its 30 years of production. The latest generation boasts state-of-the-art drive technology while retaining the typical virtues of the G-Class, such as extreme robustness and outstanding off-road capabilities.

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Profitable Growth at Daimler Trucks - Returns Target of Eight Percent Is Within Reach


- Board of Management member Andreas Renschler: “A return on sales of eight percent is within reach for Daimler Trucks across the entire business cycle.”
- The world’s largest truck manufacturer is maintaining its position through a long-term strategic approach
- Significant growth in the triad markets, consistent globalization strategy in the emerging markets
- Daimler Buses, the world's biggest and most profitable bus manufacturer, has an RoS target of six percent throughout the cycle

Stuttgart/Wörth, Germany, Nov 30, 2010 – The positive trend in the commercial vehicle sector, which last year had to cope with an average sales decline of 50 percent, was confirmed in the figures from Daimler Trucks for the third quarter of 2010. Compared to the result posted for the same quarter last year, Daimler Trucks’ sales increased by 44 percent to 94,800 units.

By the end of September 2010, total sales at Daimler Trucks were up by 34 percent to 249,000 units, compared to the total sales of 185,600 units in the same period of last year.

Daimler Trucks also expects the global truck markets to see further recovery by the end of the year. It forecasts market growth of five percent in Europe, ten to 15 percent in the NAFTA region, 50 percent in Brazil, and between 20 and 30 percent in Japan.

Andreas Renschler explained the prospects for Daimler Trucks and Daimler Buses before an audience of analysts and investors today in Wörth: “The forecasts indicate that the worldwide markets for medium-duty and heavy-duty trucks will grow by eight percent to 2.6 million units in the period between 2010 and 2013. At Daimler Trucks it looks like we will succeed in boosting sales by more than 40 percent to over 500,000 units during the same period. Given this outlook, a return on sales of eight percent is within reach for Daimler Trucks across the entire business cycle.”
Renschler attributed this positive business development to the long-term strategy of the Global Excellence program. Business developments in the commercial vehicle sector are characterized by pronounced cycles. Thanks to its long-term strategy and its four initiatives, Daimler Trucks succeeded in maintaining its position as the world’s largest manufacturer of trucks even during the economic crisis.

The aim of the first initiative, Management of Market Cycles, is to orient Daimler Trucks with the cyclical nature of business in the sector and thus ensure long-term profitability. With tools such as flexible production capacities and working-time models as well as a global production network, it was possible to adjust the production of commercial vehicles and engines to the cyclical developments — during the decline and during the current upturn. Renschler added: “The market forecasts make us optimistic and confident. The economy is rebounding, and with it the demand for commercial vehicles. It’s true that this is market-specific and is happening at different speeds from market to market, but the indications overall are positive worldwide. However, the crisis isn’t entirely behind us yet. I expect that it will be 2013 before we return to the level of demand we experienced in the triad markets in 2007 or 2008.”

The second initiative, Operational Excellence, focuses on the systematic optimization of all processes, in particular the cost basis. Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA) and Fuso in Japan are implementing realignment programs that will lead to baseline savings of around €720 million ($900 million) at DTNA and about €760 million (1 billion yen) at Fuso, beginning in 2011. Both of these programs are progressing ahead of schedule. As the world’s largest manufacturer of commercial vehicles, Daimler is also intensifying its efforts to generate further synergy effects and economies of scale by incorporating new products in an intelligent strategy across regions. “A commonality rate of 70 percent appears realistic from today’s perspective,” said Renschler. “That includes not only components such as engines, transmissions, and axles but also our vehicles’ electrical and electronics architecture.”

The third initiative involves the penetration of existing and prospective markets. The focus in established markets is to offer customers the best possible total cost of ownership. In addition to the vehicle lineup, this will increasingly be achieved with a comprehensive range of services, including full-service leasing (CharterWay) and intelligent fleet and cost management for customers (FleetBoard).

With regard to new markets, the focus is on the BRIC and Next 11 countries.

It is estimated that new vehicle registrations of medium- and heavy-duty trucks will increase in Russia, India, and China by more than per annum 10 percent between 2009 and 2020.

Daimler Trucks is well positioned in the BRIC countries. A 50-50 joint venture with Foton Motor has received government approval in China, and Daimler India Commercial Vehicles is building a truck production plant in Chennai, India. The truck prototypes for the Indian market are already being test-driven on the DICV proving grounds and will be launched in India in 2012. In Russia, two joint ventures are being operated with the truck manufacturer and local market leader Kamaz for the production and sale of the Fuso Canter light truck and the Mercedes-Benz Actros. Both of the vehicles are assembled at the Kamaz plant in Chelny. At Mercedes-Benz do Brasil, €460 million has been invested to increase the production capacity of the São Bernardo do Campo plant by 15 percent. In addition, the company is preparing the facility in Juiz de Fora to produce commercial vehicles so that it can start assembling the Mercedes-Benz Actros in 2011.

According to Renschler, Daimler Trucks’ involvement in the emerging markets is part of its long-term globalization strategy. “In a few years time, when we have established two local brands in China and India and created additional production capacity, Daimler Trucks will be able to penetrate the volume segments in these markets and substantially increase sales there,” said Renschler.

Ensuring that future product generations offer innovations and even more value for customers is the strategic goal of the fourth initiative of the Global Excellence program. This is demonstrated by new products such as the Mercedes-Benz Atego BlueTec Hybrid distribution truck for Europe and the Fuso Canter light truck, which already fulfills Japan’s 2015 truck emissions and fuel efficiency standards. An important focus at Daimler Trucks is alternative drive systems, where the division is demonstrating its leadership in the development of hybrid, natural gas, and fuel cell drives.

Daimler Buses, the world's biggest and most profitable bus manufacturer, has an RoS target of six percent throughout the cycle

The Daimler Buses business unit, with the Mercedes-Benz, Setra, and Orion brands, is the world market leader for city, intercity, and touring buses with a GVW of over eight tons. During the first nine months of 2010, Daimler Buses increased its total sales by 21 percent to 28,300 units. In the same period of 2009, total sales amounted to 23,500 units. Hartmut Schick, Head of Daimler Buses, told the group of analysts and investors in Wörth: "We are the world leaders in the global bus segment. We offer our customers first-class products and the best service in the business. And the trust our customers place in us shows that we're doing everything right. Our total sales in 2010 will considerably exceed the figure for 2009 and secure an approximately 15 percent share of the global market for us."

Public transportation will play an increasingly important role in the future as a result of growing mobility and the evolution of megacities. This is reflected in the development of the global bus market. In 2010, the total production figure of 282,000 units will break the previous record of 281,000 units, which was posted in 2008. And according to the forecasts, the global bus market will grow by three percent to 290,000 units by 2013.

In order to profit from these growth opportunities, Daimler Buses is continuing to consistently implement its strategic initiatives. Like Daimler Trucks, Daimler Buses is focusing on four initiatives that are being implemented within the organization: market growth in traditional and new markets, technological leadership, and efficiency in all business units.

As a result, the positive course of business operations will also have an impact on the return on sales in the future. According to Hartmut Schick, Daimler Buses will achieve a return on sales of six percent throughout the cycle.

In addition, Daimler Buses will be moving full speed ahead toward a zero-emission drive technology with products such as the Mercedes-Benz Citaro G BlueTec Hybrid, the Orion VII Hybrid, and the fuel cell drive in the Mercedes-Benz Citaro FuelCELL Hybrid. According to Hartmut Schick, "The bus is demonstrably the safest, most environmentally friendly, most economical, and most flexible means of transportation. Because of climate change, the growth of the global population, and urbanization, the limits of individual mobility are growing increasingly clear. We see tremendous opportunities for buses, and thanks to our global network we are prepared to take advantage of these opportunities in our markets."

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Daimler Financial Services is Back on Growth Path


- EBIT of more than €900 million expected for 2010 from ongoing business
- Contract volume in China doubled to about €1 billion since beginning of the year
- Preparations for market launch in India
- Restructuring of German locations will safeguard long-term competitiveness

Berlin/Stuttgart, Germany, Nov 29, 2010 — Daimler Financial Services AG is achieving strong gains again after an economically difficult year 2009. After posting a profit of €607 million in the first three quarters of 2010 (2009: €13 million), this Daimler Group division expects an EBIT from ongoing business for whole-year 2010 of more than €900 million. This would be one of the best results achieved by the division through the financial services it provides for Mercedes-Benz passenger cars, smart, and Daimler commercial vehicles.

"We've emerged from the financial and economic crisis stronger than before, and we are benefiting from the decrease in risk-related costs and favorable interest margins. We are also on a growth path with our new business and contract volume," said Klaus Entenmann, Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler Financial Services. Supported by the increase in the Group's vehicle sales, the volume of new business at DFS at the end of the third quarter of 2010 was €21.3 billion — a 16 percent increase over the same period of 2009. Contract volume rose by 4 percent to €61.1 billion.

Rapid growth in China, market launch planned in India

Daimler Financial Services sees great growth potential primarily in future markets such as China and India. In China, the contract volume rose by 93 percent to €916 million in the first nine months of the year. By the end of 2010 it is expected to top the billion-euro threshold. Financial services are playing an increasingly important role in vehicle purchases in growth markets such as China. "We expect to see continued rapid growth in China, and we also appreciate the fact that Chinese customers are very reliable when it comes to making payments," says Entenmann.

In India, Daimler Financial Services is preparing for its market launch. Starting in the second half of 2011, DFS will offer financing, insurance, and fleet management for Mercedes-Benz passenger vehicles in India. Financial services for commercial vehicles will follow in 2012. The necessary licenses have already been applied for. India is one of the world's largest growth markets for the automotive industry.

Restructuring in Germany

In order to more effectively coordinate DFS' operations in over 40 countries throughout the world with the management of the Daimler vehicle divisions, Daimler Financial Services will move its headquar¬ters from Berlin to Stuttgart in 2012. There it will be co-located in the same building with the headquarters of Mercedes-Benz Bank.

The business operations of Mercedes-Benz Bank in Germany will also be consolidated in the future. These activities will be concentrated in three locations by the end of 2012, as opposed to the current nine. In addition to Stuttgart and the existing service center in Saarbrücken for the private customers and direct banking business, there will be a new service center for corporate customers in Berlin. The re-organization will safeguard a leading competitive position for the company over the long term.

Outlook on 2011

Klaus Entenmann is looking ahead at the coming business year with optimism. "We expect 2011 to be another very successful year for Daimler Financial Services," he says. "We are also expecting growth in our new business worldwide and in our contract volume."

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4MATIC: the intelligent all-wheel drive system - Complete story collection

For an easy reach of all the articles related to the "4MATIC: the intelligent all-wheel drive system" subject, we've compiled all the links heading to them in one single post. Roll down and start reading. Enjoy!

1. 4MATIC: the intelligent all-wheel drive system - PART I

2. 4MATIC: the intelligent all-wheel drive system - PART II

3. 4MATIC: the intelligent all-wheel drive system - PART III

4. 4MATIC: the intelligent all-wheel drive system - PART IV

5. 4MATIC: the intelligent all-wheel drive system - PART V

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4MATIC: the intelligent all-wheel drive system - PART V


Stuttgart/Hochgurgl, Germany/Austria, Nov 29, 2010

The history of all-wheel drive models from Mercedes-Benz: Over 100 years of traction to the power of four

- Foundations of all-wheel drive technology laid in 1903
- Passenger cars: from the "Dernburg-Wagen" (1907) to the CLS 4MATIC
- Off-roaders: from the G1 to the G-Class and the ML, R, GL and GLK SUVs
- Commercial vehicles: Unimog, trucks and vans

Paul Daimler, the son of the company's founder, came up with the first designs featuring all-wheel drive as long ago as 1903. In 1907, the "Dernburg-Wagen", as it was known, was produced for driving in Africa. Although built on the basis of a truck, it was designed as a passenger car, making it the forefather of today's cars with 4MATIC drive. The first ever all-wheel drive passenger car from Mercedes was the W 124 E-Class model series, whose 4MATIC versions made their debut in 1985 at the IAA International Motor Show in Frankfurt.

Today's off-roaders and SUVs have a long ancestry too. Mercedes-Benz unveiled its G 5 model in October 1938 at the London Motor Show as a "colonial and hunting vehicle". Alongside the G-Class, which has been powering through cross-country terrain since 1979, the G 5 is therefore the forerunner of today's SUV models in the form of the M-, R-, GL-Class and the GLK.

Besides this, the company also has a tradition of building commercial vehicles with off-road capabilities – from the legendary Unimog to trucks to delivery vans such as the Vito and Sprinter.

The first all-wheel drive car for everyday use is built by the Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft (DMG) in 1907. The "Dernburg-Wagen", as it is known, even features all-wheel steering. It is designed for the then Secretary of State Bernhard Dernburg, who was to drive many kilometres in it while on colonial service in Africa the following year. Engineer Paul Daimler, son of the company founder, uses a truck chassis from the Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft as the basis for the new vehicle, which has a price tag of 34,750 Marks. It is fitted with a touring car body including two seats on the chauffeur's bench and a total of four seats in the rear. With a length of around 4.90 metres and a height of a good 2.70 metres including the roof structure, the majestic vehicle weighs around 3.6 tonnes when fully laden with all the special items specified by the Colonial Office, such as a particularly heavy-duty clutch, as well as petrol and coolant reserves for tropical conditions, replacement parts and tools.

The four-cylinder engine generates a very respectable output of 26 kW (35 hp) at 800 rpm from a displacement of about 6.8 litres – allowing a maximum speed of around 40 km/h on level tarmac. Far more important for the vehicle however, in view of the special operating conditions, is the climbing ability made possible by the all-wheel drive: an impressive 25 percent.

The vehicle features permanent all-wheel drive with the engine transmitting its power to the four wheels via a sophisticated mechanical system. A shaft connects it to the transmission with four forward gears and one reverse gear that is installed exactly in the middle. From there, propshafts transfer the torque to the front and rear axle differentials.

The design engineer Daimler takes special precautions to keep fine airborne sand out of the drive components. Because the solutions used limit the maximum steering angle to just 23 degrees, the vehicle is equipped with steerable wheels at the rear too in order to achieve a reasonable turning circle.

A highly prestigious vehicle for off-road terrain

1934 sees the introduction of the mighty, six-wheeled G 4 passenger vehicle (W 31 model series), which is built at the Untertürkheim plant. Heads of state and high-ranking military officers soon came to appreciate the 3.7-tonne vehicle as a highly prestigious vehicle with off-road prowess. Power is transferred to the two rigid rear axles by a propshaft, while two locking differentials ensure good off-road capabilities (climbing ability when fully laden: 43 percent). Counting all the engine variants, a total of 57 are made up until 1939.

The first series (1934 to 1936) is powered by a model M 24 5.0-litre eight-cylinder engine developing 74 kW (100 hp) at 3400 rpm. For the second series (1937 to 1938) the engine is enlarged to a displacement of around 5.3 litres with an output of 85 kW (115 hp), increasing again to 5.4 litres and 81 kW (110 hp) in the third series. Although more would be feasible, the G 4 is only permitted to drive at a maximum speed of 67 km/h owing to its great weight and the limitations on tyre stability at the time. The G 4 has an immense thirst for fuel, with figures of 28 litres per 100 kilometres on the road and 38 litres off-road. So it is little wonder that some models are fitted with a 140-litre tank.

High-tech for passenger cars: Mercedes-Benz 4MATIC

In the mid-1980s, the time is right to introduce all-wheel drive in Mercedes-Benz passenger cars too. At the 1985 IAA International Motor Show in Frankfurt, the engineers present their new all-wheel drive concept to the general public under the name of 4MATIC. The new system also employs electronics to provide optimum drive power at all times in any driving situation.

The foundations for this technology were laid by the anti-lock braking system (ABS) in 1987. This provides the launch pad for the acceleration skid control system (ASR, series production launch 1981), which is designed to control the interplay of longitudinal forces between the tyres and the road surface not only during braking, but when accelerating too by acting on both the brakes and the engine torque. This is later followed by the automatic differential lock (ASD, 1985) and the Electronic Stability Program (ESP®, 1995).

A common feature of these systems is the way they measure wheel slip using advanced microelectronics and hydraulics, and limit it in order to improve a car's longitudinal dynamics. 4MATIC is permanently active and distributes the drive power between the front and rear axles during normal driving on a surface with good traction.

4MATIC is premiered in the W 124 model series in 1987. The Electronic Traction System 4ETS, which performs the function of differential locks and ensures even better progress on poor surfaces, is added from the 210-series E-Class onward, starting in 1997. 4ETS is integrated into the Electronic Stability Program (ESP®), whose control functions are specifically adapted for all-wheel drive. If one or more wheels lose grip on a slippery surface, 4ETS automatically applies brief braking impulses to the individual spinning wheels while increasing drive torque to the wheels with good traction. This automatic braking intervention is able to simulate the effect of up to three differential locks.

By the time the new 210-series E-Class comes onto the market in 1995, the technology has advanced considerably. The new 4MATIC consists of a permanent all-wheel drive system with a single-stage transfer case providing a front-rear power split of 35:65. It is supported by the Electronic Traction System 4ETS. The new 4MATIC system makes its debut in February 1997 in the E 280, followed in June by the E 320, with an estate version also available in both cases.

In January 2003, Mercedes-Benz presents the new 211-series E-Class at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. From the autumn of that same year, 4MATIC all-wheel drive also becomes available for the E 240, E 320 and E 500 models, once again in both saloon and estate versions. A further distinguishing feature of the 4MATIC models compared to the rear-wheel-drive versions is that they are exclusively available with the five-speed automatic transmission. The E 280 CDI and E 320 CDI 4MATIC diesel models follow in July 2005. Combining 4MATIC permanent all-wheel drive with the up-to-date V6 CDI engines enables new standards to be achieved in terms of safety, traction, pulling power and fuel economy.

Traction at its most luxurious: the S-Class 4MATIC

For the 2003 model year, Mercedes-Benz embarks on an all-wheel drive initiative for its passenger cars, making a total of 32 models available with 4MATIC in five model series. As part of this initiative, 4MATIC is made available in the S-Class (W 220 series) during the second half of its production cycle for the S 350, S 430 and S 500 models – including the long-wheelbase versions.
Its successor, the W 221-series S-Class, celebrates its debut in September 2005, with all-wheel drive being launched exactly one year later at the Paris Motor Show in September 2006. For the first time ever, there is an S-Class with a diesel engine and all-wheel drive in the form of the S 320 CDI 4MATIC; it is joined by 4MATIC versions of the S 350, S 450 and S 500, once again with a choice of either short or long wheelbase.

From March 2008, Mercedes-Benz also starts to offer the CL-Class luxury coupé (C 216) with all-wheel drive in the CL 500 4MATIC model. At its heart is the 7G-TRONIC seven-speed automatic transmission, which had been specially developed for all-wheel drive models and has a transfer case with centre differential lock incorporated into it. It splits the drive torque between the front and rear axle in the ratio 45:55. The newly developed multi-plate clutch at the centre differential transmits the engine's power to all four wheels with a basic locking effect of 50 Newton metres between the front and rear axle. This results in even better start-off characteristics and handling stability on slippery surfaces. At the same time, the all-wheel drive system is exceptionally efficient: the CL 500 4MATIC consumes no more fuel than the corresponding rear-wheel drive model.

The 203-series C-Class also becomes available with 4MATIC as part of the 2003 all-wheel drive initiative. There is a choice of the C 240 and C 320 six-cylinder models in either saloon or estate form.

In the summer following the Europe-wide market launch of the C-Class from the 204 model series in spring 2007, all-wheel drive becomes available in the six-cylinder C 280, C 350 and C 320 CDI models, and from the autumn in the C 320 CDI 4MATIC Estate too. The 4MATIC system had undergone a thorough overhaul: not only is the latest-generation all-wheel drive technology more efficient, it also weighs less and has a more compact design than the previous 4MATIC. These benefits pay dividends in terms of lower fuel consumption and even greater traction. The all-wheel drive C-Class models are also equipped with the modified 7G-TRONIC seven-speed automatic transmission as standard.

Finally, autumn 2009 sees the launch of what is now the fourth generation of the E-Class to feature 4MATIC. The E 350 CDI BlueEFFICIENCY and E 350 (both saloon and estate versions) as well as the E 500 saloon are the representatives of the 212 model series that are available with the permanent all-wheel drive system.

And now a very special model series is the latest to enjoy the benefits of enhanced traction: the new CLS four-door coupé will be available with 4MATIC for the first time from 2011, with a choice of either the CLS 350 CDI BlueEFFICIENCY or CLS 500 BlueEFFICIENCY.

Off-roaders: it all starts with the Mercedes-Benz G 5

In the 1930s, Mercedes-Benz designs a variety of all-wheel drive vehicles, mainly for use by the German armed forces, although the customer was to ultimately decide otherwise. These include the 160 HM model (W 133 II series) from 1935/36 as well as the 160 VL (1936, W 139). In 1935 the company also produces the 170 VG Kübelwagen (W 133 III series) with a selectable front-axle drive. This is followed in 1936 by the 170 VL (W 139) with permanent all-wheel drive as a precursor to the G 5, still equipped with a 1.7-litre engine. For greater manoeuvrability, this also features selectable four-wheel steering, which reduces the turning circle from eleven to seven metres. Roughly 100 units of these two models are delivered in total.

In technical terms, the Mercedes-Benz G 5 (W 152 series, 1937 to 1941) is the successor to the 170 VL, being also equipped with all-wheel drive and selectable all-wheel steering. Once again the military shows little interest, and in order to expose the G 5 to a wider public, the company presents it at the London Motor Show in October 1938 as a "colonial and hunting vehicle". Three body versions are available ex factory: a military Kübelwagen body, a touring car with side windows and tropical folding soft-top roof, as well as an all-purpose crew vehicle for the police, for instance. Power is provided by a four-cylinder engine with a displacement of 2.0 litres and an output of 33 kW (45 hp) at 3700 rpm. The all-wheel drive system features three differential locks. A rarity at the time, the transmission has five forward gears, although first gear with its reduction ratio of 7.22:1 is exclusively reserved for off-road operation. The handbrake acts on the propshaft, while the suspension is fully independent all-round. Maximum speed of the G 5 is 85 km/h, with a proviso in the operating manual not to exceed 30 km/h with the all-wheel steering activated.

Several of these vehicles are used by the German mountain rescue services, some of them until well after the end of the Second World War. Despite the wide range of variants and its technical perfection, the G 5 meets with little success: 378 are built in total.

Nonetheless this model may be seen as the forerunner of the privately-owned off-road vehicle, so popular nowadays. Nevertheless, it would be many years before Mercedes-Benz included all-wheel drive passenger cars in its model range again: 1979 marks the launch of the G-Model, which has since become an outstanding success story.

In a class of its own: the Mercedes-Benz G

The development of the Mercedes-Benz G-Model commences in 1972, when a cooperation agreement is signed between Daimler-Benz and Steyr-Daimler-Puch in Graz, Austria. The decision to start series production of the G-Class is taken in 1975. At the same time it is decided to construct a new plant in Graz, where the vehicle has been built mainly by hand throughout its many years of production.

In all there are four G-Class model series. The 460 (from 1979 onwards), 461 (1991) and 463 (1989) series are produced in Graz, while the 462 series is assembled from CKD kits in Thessalonica, Greece from 1991.

Contrary to the popular view, the G-Class was neither conceived as a military vehicle, nor as a passenger car: the designers initially had their eyes on the civilian commercial vehicle market. There is a change of direction during the concept phase, however, and the vehicle is designed instead for operation in extremely difficult terrain. The vehicle's backbone is a box frame with enclosed side members and cross members, ensuring exceptional flexural and torsional strength. The frame supports robust rigid axles with large coil springs and long spring travel – a great advantage for off-road driving. With a climbing ability of up to 80 percent, a maximum tilt angle of 54 percent, 21 centimetres of ground clearance and angles of approach and departure of 36 and 27 degrees respectively, the G-Class is equipped to negotiate the toughest off-road terrain with majestic ease. At the same time, the chassis also provides safe and comfortable handling on smooth tarmac.

Production of the G-Class commences in Graz on 1 February 1979. Daimler-Benz provides the entire drivetrain including engine, transmission, axles and steering, as well as the larger pressed components. Stamped and smaller pressed parts as well as the transfer case, meanwhile, are produced by Steyr-Daimler-Puch. All versions feature a manual four-speed transmission and intermediate gearing. The all-wheel drive with additional off-road ratio is selectable, as are the 100% differential locks on both rigid axles. The sophisticated suspension with trailing arms and wishbones, coil springs and shock absorbers makes for excellent handling both on and off the road. Power steering is only available for the 300 GD and 280 GE as standard.

Civilian customers are able to order the G as a station wagon with a short or long wheelbase, or as a cabriolet with a short wheelbase. They come with a choice of just five paint finishes: cream white, wheat yellow, colorado beige, carmine red and agave green. For the military there is also a long-wheelbase cabriolet with two or four doors. In November 1980 the range is extended by a closed box-body variant with either a short or long wheelbase.

The original intention to design the G as a commercial vehicle can be seen from the list of optional extras, which includes items such as a lockable glove compartment, power steering, halogen headlamps and a clock. Indeed, the two-spoke steering wheel and numerous switches had been taken straight from the Mercedes-Benz commercial vehicle range. It is only the price tag of a well-equipped G-Model that indicates the direction the G would one day take with almost visionary insight: it costs around as much as an S-Class.

The 460 series is phased out in 1991, while the plant in Graz prepares to change production over to the more up-to-date 461 series launched in 1992. This is aimed at all those customers who attach particular importance to the technical attributes of the G-Class, and for whom the interior needs to be suited to practical use rather than overly homely – the military, surveyors, foresters, landscape gardeners or adventure travellers, for instance. In contrast to the 463 model series with permanent all-wheel drive, the 461 features selectable all-wheel drive with differential locks at the rear axle; these are available as an optional extra at the front. Other standard features include a five-speed manual transmission and a 96-litre fuel tank.

The 461 series is available in three wheelbases and seven body variants. This offers an immense number of permutations, so vehicles can easily be configured for highly specific purposes. The 461 series is eventually discontinued in 2002.

The G-Class 463 model series

In early 1987, the creators of the G-model begin to think about designing a more upmarket model series. It is christened with the number 463 and makes its debut in 1989 at the IAA Motor Show in Frankfurt. The G-Class now comes under the aegis of the Mercedes-Benz Passenger Car Division. The move to the 463 model series is necessary as the civilian market has become very important in the meantime and is calling for an anti-lock braking system and airbags, for example, requiring an extensive redesign. Moreover, fewer and fewer civilian customers are smitten by the rustic charm of a simple hunting cabin on wheels – more comfort and luxury is needed. The new generation is designed along the lines of upper mid-range passenger cars, with appointments very similar to the Mercedes-Benz saloons. The dashboard design is adopted from the 124 model series, while fine wood trim and comfortable seats form part of the standard equipment. There is a choice of upholsteries, including leather, as well as various colours for the interior trim, allowing the passenger compartment to be given a colour-coordinated finish. Seating comfort in the rear is also improved. The 460 series continues to be built for customers who still prefer a rather plainer appearance.

The initially optional anti-lock braking system (ABS) makes a permanent all-wheel drive system necessary, with an inter-axle differential providing compensation between front and rear axles. Three differential locks operated by three switches in the centre of the dashboard are also included. Activating the centre switch automatically switches off the ABS, as the wheel brakes cannot be individually controlled in full through-drive mode.

Since 2001, the G-Class has also been equipped with the Electronic Stability Program (ESP®), 4ETS and Brake Assist, thereby offering a unique combination of highly effective traction and handling safety systems which improve both road safety and off-road capability even further.
Since the market launch of the G-Class, a total of 200,000 vehicles have been delivered to customers worldwide.

The Sport Utility Vehicle from Mercedes-Benz: the M-Class

In 1997, Mercedes-Benz enters a fledgling market with the launch of the M-Class (W 163 series). The Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV) is equipped with 4MATIC all-wheel drive throughout the range. The drivetrain is designed for permanent all-wheel drive from the outset. A transfer case with an integral centre differential distributes the drive torque to the front and rear axles on a 50:50 basis. As in the other 4MATIC models from Mercedes-Benz, differential locks are replaced by the 4ETS system in the M-Class. An anti-lock braking system is part of the standard specification; it is specially configured for off-road use and prevents the wheels from locking at speeds above 8 km/h, whatever the state of the ground. When the low-range gearbox is activated (reduction ratio of 2.64), a special programme for speeds up to 30 km/h shortens braking distances on loose surfaces.

The M-Class is manufactured in the new plant in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and the USA and Canada are the first markets to benefit from the new arrival in the form of the ML 320. In March 1998, the first units are delivered to Europe, where the ML 230 is added to the range. This is followed in the same year by the ML 430 with an eight-cylinder petrol engine. In October 1998, the torque split between the front and rear axles is changed to 48:52 to improve cornering agility on asphalt roads.

The 100,000th M-Class leaves the production line in February 1999. In May, the plant in Graz is commissioned as the second production site – particularly for the ML 270 CDI that is extremely important for the European market – as the G-Class and the E-Class 4MATIC are already built there.

From autumn 2000, the vehicle is equipped with a new improved version of the all-wheel drive system for even greater off-road prowess. 4ETS is enhanced with new functions that offered particular advantages on steep uphill and downhill gradients, and an actively controlled brake booster is introduced, which builds up pressure extremely rapidly. This enables the system to brake spinning wheels even quicker than before. 4ETS meters these braking impulses according to the vehicle speed, wheel acceleration and accelerator position.

Production of the W 163 series ends in December 2004, after total sales of around 650,000 units.
In 2005, the mantle of the 163-series M-Class is passed on to its successor, the 164 series, which is unveiled in January at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Since 2001, DaimlerChrysler had already invested a total of 600 million US dollars in expanding the Tuscaloosa plant, doubling its production capacity from 80,000 to 160,000 vehicles per year.
This increase in capacity benefits not only the M-Class, but also the R-Class that comes onto the market in the same year.

The new M-Class is launched with the very latest technology, including three powerful new engines, the 7G-TRONIC seven-speed automatic transmission as standard, the further improved 4MATIC all-wheel drive system, AIRMATIC air suspension and (as an option) the anticipatory occupant protection system PRE-SAFE®.

Mercedes-Benz had further advanced the permanent all-wheel drive and 4ETS traction system, adding additional functions such as Downhill Speed Regulation, start-off assist and off-road ABS. There is now a choice of two all-wheel drive variants to meet the varying requirements of off-road drivers: in addition to the basic version, a new Off-Road Pro Engineering package is available as an option, which enables the M-Class to handle even the trickiest terrain. Its primary features include a two-speed transfer case with a low-range ratio, manually or automatically selectable differential locks (100 per cent) between the front and rear axle and on the rear axle, plus a modified version of the AIRMATIC air suspension system which has been specially tailored to off-road driving and which raises the ground clearance by 110 mm to as much as 291 millimetres and the vehicle's fording depth to a maximum of 600 millimetres.

A new spatial concept on wheels: the Mercedes-Benz R-Class

New York in March 2005, where Mercedes-Benz stages a world premiere at the International Auto Show: the R-Class. Its vehicle concept blends all the advantages of familiar vehicle categories such as a sporty saloon, estate, MPV and SUV into a new and distinctive character. Dimensions, design and dynamism are its outstanding attributes. The R-Class is first launched on the North American market in autumn 2005, and becomes available in Europe from early 2006.

The R-Class is available in two sizes, with external lengths of 4922 and 5127 millimetres. This gives the new Mercedes-Benz model the dimensions of a luxury-class saloon, but with a considerably more spacious interior. Standard equipment includes the 4MATIC all-wheel drive developed by Mercedes.

The second generation of the R-Class is launched in June 2010. The overall appearance benefits considerably from the completely restyled front section in particular, and borrows elements from the Mercedes-Benz saloons and SUV models. At the same time, the latest generation offers the same level of interior diversity for which its predecessor was renowned, and also boasts the robustness and all-wheel drive properties of the Mercedes-Benz SUVs as well as new, highly efficient engines.

A mighty off-roader: the GL-Class

The GL-Class celebrates its world debut at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January 2006, and its European debut at the Geneva Motor Show in February. As the first full-size SUV (Sport Utility Vehicle) from Mercedes-Benz, it is the highlight of the show. As a unique feature in the GL segment, this powerful and comfortable seven-seater is equipped with a self-supporting body. The extremely robust and spacious yet lightweight construction gives the new GL-Class a competitive edge in terms of ride comfort, dynamism and safety.

Standard specification includes 4MATIC permanent all-wheel drive. Together with the standard AIRMATIC air suspension, precise speed-sensitive power steering and Adaptive Damping System (ADS), which likewise comes as standard, this gives the majestic GL surprisingly impressive handling. All engine variants of the GL are paired with the 7G-TRONIC seven-speed automatic transmission as standard. Partly by virtue of its wide ratio spread, the 7G-TRONIC helps to reduce fuel consumption in just the same way as the lightweight construction and the good aerodynamics for a vehicle of these dimensions (Cd = 0.37).

BlueTEC and all-wheel drive

Three models from Mercedes-Benz have the distinction of becoming the world’s first diesel SUVs not only to comply with the particularly stringent American BIN5 emissions standards, but also to have the potential to meet the strict EU6 emissions standards, thereby fulfilling all currently valid emissions legislation: the R 320 BlueTEC, ML 320 BlueTEC and GL 320 BlueTEC. They make their debut in June 2008, initially on the American market.

Compact model with genuine character: the GLK

The GLK receives its world premiere at the Auto China show in April 2008. Boasting a body shape that is as practical as it is arrestingly succinct, the distinctive all-rounder was to give the market segment of compact SUVs new direction. It also harmonises what were previously seen as entirely contradictory attributes, with supreme driving dynamics and outstanding driving safety going hand in hand with exceptional ride comfort thanks to the AGILITY CONTROL suspension. Meanwhile the variable 4MATIC all-wheel drive system joins forces with the latest electronic control systems to deliver consummate performance on the road and well-balanced skills off it.

Copyright © 2010, Mercedes-Benz-Blog. All rights reserved.

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4MATIC: the intelligent all-wheel drive system - PART IV


Stuttgart/Hochgurgl, Germany/Austria, Nov 29, 2010

Four bestsellers involved in winter test: Exceptional traction combined with varying characters

Two coupés, one luxury saloon and a family SUV: the full spectrum of Mercedes-Benz 4MATIC models can be experienced on the test drives in Hochgurgl.

The second-generation CLS: also available with 4MATIC

With the arrival of the CLS in 2003, Mercedes-Benz created a brand new vehicle category which for the first time combined the elegance and dynamism of a coupé with the comfort and functionality of a saloon. The new CLS builds on the pioneering role of its predecessor yet at the same time is an entirely new edition – one that boasts 4MATIC all-wheel drive too. The eye is immediately caught by the innovative front design, which is reminiscent of the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG. The characteristic CLS outline, with its elegantly elongated proportions, forms another dominating attribute. The interplay between lines and surfaces has been fashioned anew to enhance the effect of the dynamic, athletic form. The front structural ridge above the wing slopes down at the rear.

Referred to by the designers as the "dropping line", this design feature is also a reinterpretation of a styling hallmark that echoes back to the matchless wealth of forms present in the great Mercedes sports cars of the past. A bold and muscular sports-car-like shoulder line above the rear axle highlights the athletic character of the new CLS.

The CLS is furthermore the first car in the world to offer the option of LED High Performance headlamps, which combine the fascinating colour effect of LED technology – resembling daylight – with the performance, functionality and energy efficiency of today's bi-xenon generation. This new system offers the same Intelligent Light System that has already proven itself in Mercedes models with bi-xenon headlamps, but combined with LED technology for the first time.

The ultimate in efficiency: this is the hallmark of both engines which are being used in the new CLS 4MATIC models. The output and torque of both units have been increased compared with the previous models, while their consumption has been reduced dramatically. The six-cylinder diesel in the CLS 350 CDI 4MATIC BlueEFFICIENCY has an output of 195 kW (265 hp) and the V8 in the CLS 500 4MATIC BlueEFFICIENCY produces 300 kW (408 hp). The eight-cylinder model includes the ECO start/stop function as standard.

Intelligent lightweight construction plays a decisive role in resolving the classic trade-off between low weight and high strength in the new CLS. The CLS is thus the first vehicle from Mercedes-Benz to have frameless, all-aluminium doors. In addition, the bonnet, front wings, boot lid, parcel shelf, various support sections as well as substantial parts of the chassis and engines are all made from aluminium too.

The aerodynamics make an important contribution to the outstanding efficiency of the new Mercedes-Benz CLS 4MATIC too. It has been possible to reduce aerodynamic drag by as much as ten percent thanks to an improvement in the Cd value, which now stands at 0.28.

Supreme driving dynamics coupled with superlative driving comfort on long journeys: the electromechanical Direct-Steer system makes its world premiere in the new CLS. This pioneering innovation is a radical step forward in the relationship between driver, car and road. This is because for the first time engineers have the freedom to freely choose and program a wide variety of parameters which can influence steering perception. Over a dozen driving assistance systems are on hand in the new CLS to help prevent traffic accidents or at least reduce their severity. New on board are Active Blind Spot Assist and the Active Lane Keeping Assist.

Technical data for the CLS 4MATIC models:

The ultimate in refined motoring: S-Class and CL-Class

They mark the pinnacle of motoring – and not just within the Mercedes-Benz model portfolio. With the new generation of the CL and new engines for the S-Class, Mercedes-Benz has once again raised the bar for efficiency and prestige in the luxury saloon and coupé segment. The CL and S-Class come with highly efficient direct-injection petrol engines whose output has been increased at the same time as lowering fuel consumption.

In the new S 500 4MATIC BlueEFFICIENCY and CL 500 4MATIC BlueEFFICIENCY V8 versions, the combined fuel consumption dropped to 9.8 and 9.9 litres per 100 kilometres respectively, equating to 228 and 237 g/km of CO2. Crucial to this enhanced efficiency is the newly developed BlueDIRECT technology with third-generation spray-guided direct petrol injection in combination with the standard-fit start/stop function and the new 7G-TRONIC PLUS seven-speed automatic transmission. Innovations like the Active Blind Spot Assist and Active Lane Keeping Assist see to it that the CL and S-Class continue to be the yardstick for automotive progress in the area of active safety too.

The key technical data for the CL 500 4MATIC BlueEFFICIENCY:

The key technical data for the S-Class 4MATIC models:

The Mercedes-Benz R-Class: spacious, prestigious and exceptionally comfortable

An all-rounder in peak form: since June 2010, the overall appearance of the R-Class has benefited considerably from the completely restyled front section in particular, and borrows elements from the Mercedes-Benz saloons and SUV models. In addition to the fresh exterior, the inner virtues of the R-Class are also impressive. These include economy of space on a par with the latest MPVs, as well as the comfort, high-class appeal and prestige associated with classic Mercedes-Benz luxury saloons. At the same time, the latest generation offers the same level of interior diversity for which its predecessor was renowned, and also boasts the robustness and all-wheel drive properties of the Mercedes-Benz SUVs. It has certainly thrilled customers – year-on-year sales have doubled!

In addition to the sophisticated petrol engines adopted from the outgoing model, with their customary effortless power delivery and excellent drive comfort, the appeal of the R-Class is further enhanced by a choice of optimised diesel engines. The new R 350 CDI 4MATIC blends the high performance of a V8 model with the low fuel consumption of an economical V6. It burns just 8.5 litres of diesel* per 100 kilometres, thereby undercutting its predecessor by 0.8 litres – yet is able to offer significantly enhanced performance. Whereas previously, the output topped out at 165 kW (224 hp), the V6 diesel unit now delivers a highly impressive 195 kW (265 hp) as well as 620 Newton metres of torque. This powerpack endows the sportiest of all the diesel-engined R-Class models with superlative performance credentials. It sprints from 0 to 100 km/h in 7.6 seconds and reaches a top speed of 235 km/h.

* Combined NEDC consumption

Mercedes-Benz offers one of the cleanest diesel models in the world with the
R 350 BlueTEC 4MATIC. The V6 engine produces an output of 155 kW (211 hp) together with 540 Newton metres of torque. Compared with its predecessor, this model likewise manages to achieve lower fuel consumption and emissions combined with superior performance. Equipped with AdBlue® emission control, the compression-ignition engine consumes an average of 0.3 litres less, at 8.4 litres of diesel* per 100 kilometres, thereby giving off the same level of emissions as a comparable petrol engine. As a result, this model already meets the EU6 emission limits planned for 2014. The remaining petrol and diesel models in the R-Class range all meet the EU5 standard.

* Combined NEDC consumption

The key technical data for the new-generation R-Class:

Copyright © 2010, Mercedes-Benz-Blog. All rights reserved.

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