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 AIRMATIC
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 M-Class.