It’s been years since rumors of a nine-speed transmission from Mercedes-Benz started emerging, and now buyers can finally drive one… in Europe.
Clicking through the company’s German consumer site reveals that the E 350 BlueTEC sedan is now being sold with a nine-speed automatic. Not so in the U.S., where E-Class customers are still offered a seven-speed automatic.
Adding two speeds will improve efficiency over the current unit while remaining simpler and lighter than dual-clutch transmissions favored through much of the premium car segment. Mercedes isn’t alone in offering a nine-speed gearbox either. Land Rover debuted a same-numbered slushbox during this year’s Geneva Motor Show developed by ZF.
That should raise one question among U.S. Benz buyers: when will nine-speed Mercedes products arrive here?
The fact that Mercedes is offering it in the E-Class is a strong indicator that the same can be expected for North America. Then again, the car just received a full refresh for 2013. The CLS, on the other hand, is a strong candidate. Mercedes is working on a face-lifted version for 2014, likely to arrive in the fall of that year.
It could make sense for the company to package its nine-speed transmission in the upmarket CLS. Placed there, it would serve as a further selling point for the car, which is based on the E-Class but capable of commanding a higher markup.
Mercedes is currently only offering its German customers a rear-wheel drive model with the new transmission, which should serve as a strong indicator of what to expect in the U.S. Don’t be surprised if a 4Matic all-wheel drive model follows soon after.
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