Mercedes-Benz boasts that its new third generation M-Class sets a new benchmark in the SUV world. Its enhanced fuel consumption and emission figures are especially impressive.
Across the range, fuel consumption is improved by an average of 25 per cent over the previous model. Particularly noteworthy in this respect is the ML 250 BlueTec 4Matic, which has an NEDC consumption of 47.0mpg (158g CO2/km ).
Yet for all this efficiency, Mercedes-Benz claims the new M-Class retains its combination of agility with high levels of comfort.
Further impressive features of the ML include 4Matic permanent all-wheel drive, new developments to the chassis, and innovative driving dynamics systems, and Mercedes-Benz maintains all will improve performance in both on-road and off-road situations. This is matched by high levels of active and passive safety, with features that are typical for the brand.
The German premium carmaker says the characteristic body design, together with a versatile interior that is highly conducive to its occupants' wellbeing, enhance the driving experience in the new M-Class.
A Mercedes-Benz Cars development spokesman told us: "The M-Class embodies all the automotive experience that we have accumulated over 125 years and thus represents - in short - a quantum leap in terms of efficiency, safety, agility and design."
With the new state-of-the-art engines, there is a clear policy of engine downsizing. This is complemented by a best-in-class Cd value of 0.32 and a comprehensive range of Blue Efficiency measures which all contribute to delivering superb energy efficiency.
BlueTEC diesel engines, in particular, and also the new generation of BlueDirect petrol engines provide the basis for the excellent economic efficiency and much improved environmental performance of the new M-Class.
Diesel models are now only available as BlueTEC units with SCR emissions technology. An example of the focus on downsizing is the new version of the V6 CDI engine.
In the ML 250 BlueTEC, the 3.0-litre V6 of the previous model is replaced by the more thrifty four-cylinder EU6-standard unit, already familiar in the S-Class.
Mercedes-Benz claims the ML 350 BlueTEC uses a completely reworked 3.0-litre V6 engine, which more than meets the EU6 emissions standard and delivers far better performance, yet with considerably reduced fuel consumption.
The efficiency improvements have been achieved, above all, through the use of the innovative twin-wire-arc spraying technology already used with great success since 2005 in AMG's high-performance engines.
The positive results here have led Mercedes-Benz to adapt this cylinder wall coating technology for use in the V6 diesel engine as well. The process reduces internal friction in the engine significantly.
At the same time, weight has been reduced by 4.3kg because 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 three per cent.
The range calculated for a full tank of fuel is particularly impressive. With an NEDC consumption of 47.0mpg, the ML 250 BlueTEC 4Matic with standard 70-litre tank can cover around 720 miles before needing to stop for fuel. If the vehicle is fitted with the optional 93-litre tank, a distance of up to 930 miles is possible between refuelling stops.
There are no Irish pricing and/or specification details at this time. The M-Class should go on sale in spring 2012.