Sunday, June 19, 2011

About the 2012 Mercedes-Benz M-Class

The 2012 Mercedes-Benz M-Class will achieve higher fuel economy.
The 2010 M-Class is shown here.

Automakers may be loath to talk about future products, but that doesn't mean they want to keep their plans totally secret. Why else do they keep testing prototypes in locations frequented by spy photographers if not to get some advance publicity?

Nevertheless, Mercedes-Benz has kept an unusually tight lid on details about its third-generation M-Class premium-midsize SUV. Though camouflaged units have been spied on various roads and racetracks since summer 2009, M-B hasn't confirmed anything about this new model, nor has it unveiled the usual lightly disguised "concept" teaser, at least not yet. But though solid intel is sparse, sources have picked up enough info for us to paint a fairly accurate portrait of what's reportedly coming by mid-2011.

For starters, the 2012 Mercedes-Benz M-Class should be a full redesign, not a heavy makeover of the 2006-2010 generation. It's said to employ an all-new unibody architecture that Mercedes parent Daimler AG developed with Chrysler Group toward the end of those companies' stormy 10-year marriage. This platform also hosts the 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee and is slated for a redesigned 2012 Dodge Durango (likely to be renamed Magnum). However, we suspect Daimler took it back to the drawing board after divorcing Chrysler so that no one could accuse the next M-Class of being even distantly related to anything sold by the troubled American automaker. And indeed, the M-Class will continue to be built at Mercedes' plant in Vance, Alabama, while the Chrysler SUVs roll out from that company's Jefferson North facility near Detroit.

Our hunch about platform alterations is based on reports that the 2012 Mercedes-Benz M-Class will be considerably lighter than current models, perhaps by as much as 300 pounds. Whatever the actual reduction, it's in line with efforts by all European automakers to pare as many pounds as possible so that vehicles can run smaller, more-efficient engines as a path to meeting the EU's stiff new limits on CO2 emissions. Of course, less flab is also a path to higher mpg, all else being equal, so the M-Class redesign dovetails nicely with Mercedes' need to comply with stiff new fuel-economy standards here in the U.S. We'd guess the weight will be lost mainly through more extensive use of lighter materials such as high-strength steel, aluminum, and plastic composites, but nothing more exotic or costly than that.

Despite its new "bones," the 2012 Mercedes-Benz M-Class will cast about the same shadow as today's version. Gossips speak of modest trims to wheelbase and overall length, which we peg at 1.2 and 2.2 inches, respectively. Width and height should stand virtually pat, however, and overall interior space should be little affected.

Automotive car. Design by News Cars Info. Converted To Blogger Template By Best Car Automotive