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Don’t head to the optometrist just yet. If the parking lot outside the California Pizza Kitchen and P.F. Chang’s seems particularly crowded with Mercedes-Benz SUVs, you’re probably seeing just fine.
The company had some good news to release with the new year, they managed to surpass the 2 million SUVs sales mark. According to a press release, the company enjoyed significant growth in SUV sales in 2011 thanks to the U.S. and China. SUV sales were up 24.3 percent compared to 2010 and additionally the company saw a 23.5 percent sales spike in November.
“With the launch of our first sport utility vehicle – the G‑Class – more than 30 years ago, we entered a segment in which we are now very successful with a total of five models. The SUVs today are an important pillar of Mercedes-Benz’s growth and have regularly posted a new sales record in every month since July 2010,” Joachim Schmidt, Mercedes’ head of sales and marketing, said.
While it may have taken the company 30 years to reach that number, luxury SUVs have really only been making a splash since the late 90′s with the introduction of the ML-Class. It may be easy to forget the rocky debut they had, but had some serous struggles making them a success. Questionable assembly and poor reliability in the not-so-distant past might still have some buyers feeling wary.
Nevertheless, it seems that suburban soccer moms and the expanding Chinese hunger for luxury cars is fuelling growth even with a shaky world economy. The R-Class boasted the biggest spurt with 50.3 percent sales growth this year, while the M-Class squeaked out 15.8 percent despite a model change.
Mercedes-Benz is still proud despite the M-Class taking last place in growth, calling it the latest star in their family. That pride comes part in parcel with the SUV having best fuel efficiency in its segment and receiving a five-star rating by the European New Car Assessment Programme for its safety.
Despite the accolades, we weren’t particularly impressed with the 2012 M-Class. It’s not to say we hated it, but the new model isn’t much to write home about either. Mild improvements thanks to direct injection and a scrapped hydraulic steering system were nice, but less than revolutionary. Mercedes-Benz isn’t falling short, but they didn’t jump ahead of the pack with this one either.
Another Mercedes-Benz model, another Brabus creation. Brabus unveiled their tuning program for the new M-Class and announced that its official debut will be at the upcoming Essen Motor Show. Brabus modifications for the new M-Class encompasses every facet of the vehicle, outfitting the M-Class with a body kit, engine upgrade and interior changes.
Starting with the aesthetics, Brabus gives the M-Class an all new front spoiler and attachments for the air inlets for the front end. Their new side skirts feature puddle lights and optional door sills with the Brabus logo. For the rear, Brabus offers an all new rear bumper and spoiler that attaches to the tailgate. And best of all, all Brabus body accessories are manufactured in Pur-R-Rim plastics, the same material used by factory Mercedes.
As always, wheel offerings from Brabus range from 18- to 22-inch with a variety of styles. Brabus recommends a 22-inch fitment, with their Monoblock VI, E, Q and G “Platinum Edition” wheels. Brabus will pair up the wheels with your choice of Continental, Pirelli or Yokohama tires with sizing up to 295/30/22 front and back and wheel widths as wide as 10-inch.
Suspension modifications for the new M-Class were designed in collaboration with Bilstein and for M-Classes with standard suspension, components are available that will lower the M-Class as much as 1.2-inch. The M-Classes with airmatic suspension gets a control module that will lower the M-Class 1.2- to 1.6-inch. Braking performance is also enhanced with six-piston calipers in the front and four-piston calipers in the rear – all of which is outfitted with larger, cross-drilled rotors.
Brabus only announced an engine enhancement for the ML 350 BlueTEC 4Matic, upgrading power from 258-hp to 306-hp and torque from 457 lb-ft to 509 lb-ft. Brabus plans to have an engine upgrade for all models of the new M-Class.
Lastly, interior accessories include stainless steel scuff plates with a backlit Brabus logo, matte-anodized aluminum pedals, door-lock pins and foot rest. Seats can be reupholstered with Mastik leather and Alcantara.
No pricing was announced.
GALLERY: Brabus Mercedes-Benz M-Class
Mercedes-Benz has announced that it will invest more than $2 billion into its Tuscaloosa, Alabama plant. The money will be put towards the new M-Class, the successor generations of the GL-Class, the C-Class and the expansion of production capacities.
Dr. Dieter Zetsche, head of Mercedes-Benz cars, said ”We’re continuing to write new chapters of the Tuscaloosa plant’s success story with significant investments into the future.” Zetsche explained that the Tuscaloosa plant continues to serve as the blueprint for the automakers’ facilities outside of Germany.
In addition to the $2 billion investment, Mercedes also took the opportunity to announce that the company would donate an additional $100,000 to Alabama tornado relief and recovery efforts adding to the $1.1 million total contribution.
Mercedes-Benz has recently unveiled its new M-class SUV and there has been confirmation that several variants for this crossover will be included.
Among them will be two hybrid variants. One will be powered by a gasoline-electric system similar to the current ML450 hybrid. The other hybrid will feature a brand new diesel-electric system. Peugot is the only other automaker to feature a diesel-electric hybrid. Engineering for such a platform is complicated and costly, however these diesel-electic engines have the potential to suprass the efficiency of moder gasoline-electric engines. The only issue is whether the diesel-electric hybrid will be sold in the U.S. The cost alone would be very high, so it may be a few years before we get this model.
To cheer you up, Mercedes-Benz will be bringing back the high-performance ML AMG version of the SUV. The engine will probably be the same twin-turbo 5.5-liter V8 that powers the latest generation of larger AMG vehicles, like the CL63 or the S63, and will likely produce over 500-hp and 500 lb-ft fo torque. A performance pack will likely also be an option.
There has also been confirmation that the three row next generation Mercedes-Benz GL should appear some time next year.
[Source: Car and Driver]
Images of the 2012 Mercedes-Benz M-Class SUV were leaked through some brochure photos that grew a pair of legs, and decided to go for a walk.
The rear end photo shows an refreshed new rear fascia, with flattertail lights and a revised bumper. The M-Class also looks like it will be getting a panoramic sunroof as opposed to a traditional moonroof. The front end has a more aggressive look and newly styled headlights. However the best upgrades are within the interior. The leather seats and all the tech accessories make the new M-Class SUV a very modern example of a Mercedes ute.
Mercedes-Benz has not officially mentioned a release date, however judging by the photos, it looks to be just about ready for launch.