Click above for high-res gallery from Daimler's press conference
Just like any good political campaign, Mercedes came to the New York Auto Show touting nothing much as a whole lot. Actually, the faux political rally might have been less than compelling with its old news, but the new M Class sporting 50-state legal BlueTec diesel power is exciting. Almost as exciting as the very original 1965 190 D Mercedes had borrowed to illustrate its long-running experience with Rudy's coal dust motor. The senescent sedan will be helping MBZ recreate Bill Carroll's cross-country diesel-fueled journey to celebrate the U.S.-wide availability of what it's touting as the cleanest diesel ever. BlueTec allows the M-, GL- and R-class oil burners to earn ULEV and TierII/Bin 5 classification.
Mercedes says its new diesels are now as clean as gasoline powerplants, and once they drop BlueTec hybrids on us, emissions and economy will improve yet again. JD Power projects that fully 40 percent of vehicles will be diesel powered by 2017, and Mercedes wants to increase diesel sales beyond the current level of 22 percent. The newly tweaked M-Class should help move the powertrain off dealer lots. Sporting plenty of safety upgrades, new headlights, a Hannibal-Lechter inspired grille and some interior tweaks, the M-Class has returned from the gym freshly chiseled. It was not all utes and politely obscured minivans (*ahem* R-Class). Just before Mercedes wrapped the presser, they said, we're paraphrasing here, "Oh yeah, we also brought the SL, w00t."
Related GalleryNew York 2008: Mercedes M Class and SL
"Vote for BlueTEC" - Mercedes-Benz at the 2008 New York Auto Show 2008
Fit for all 50 states – Mercedes-Benz launches second phase of its U.S. diesel offensive
- Mercedes is first manufacturer to bring BlueTEC SUVs to U.S. market
- Available autumn 2008 for registration in all fifty states
- Updated 2008 M-Class celebrates world premiere
- New generation SL roadster gets first public viewing in New York
"The BlueTEC campaign expresses our ambitious targets for the U.S. We want to make diesel driving popular here again – especially for SUVs," comments Dr. Thomas Weber, Member of the Management Board Daimler AG, Group Research & Mercedes-Benz Cars Development. "The prospects for this are now even better," Weber continues, "because, just in time for the world premiere in New York, we have become the first manufacturer ever to receive certification enabling registration of Bin 5 and ULEV compliant diesel SUVs, thus qualifying them for registration in all 50 states."
In preparation for the comeback of the clean diesel to the U.S., Mercedes has been conducting years of pioneering work. The decisive breakthrough came with the introduction of the E 320 BlueTEC in October 2006, which was voted "World Green Car of the Year 2007" in the U.S., followed by the successful launch of Mercedes diesel SUVs with CDI technology in 45 states.
Mercedes-Benz facilitates diesel comeback – new success story courtesy of BlueTEC
"What began as a cautious attempt at a comeback, soon developed into a new diesel success story," explains Dr. Weber. "The E 320 BlueTEC already claims 13 percent of E-Class sales in the U.S. Our diesel SUVs average 22 percent." These figures already put Mercedes-Benz well over the average diesel market share of 14 percent currently forecast by J.D. Power for the U.S. market in 2017. "With BlueTEC, we have the potential to build on this success."
The BlueTEC SUVs, which will initially be available only in the U.S., are powered by state-of-the-art V6 engines. With 211 bhp and 540 Nm of torque, they bring refined and highly-efficient driving pleasure to the world's cleanest diesel vehicles. Weber again, "With the BlueTEC diesel, our three new SUVs consume 20 to 40 percent less fuel than comparable gasoline models. They combine V8 torque with four-cylinder fuel consumption."
Mercedes-Benz has considerably upgraded the new-generation M-Class with fresh design accents, and more extensive, even higher quality equipment. When it comes to safety, the M-Class has always been a benchmark within the SUV sector. Now the M, R and GL-Class all come with PRE-SAFE® and NECK-PRO head restraints as standard.
First public showing in New York – the new-generation Mercedes-Benz SL
A further Mercedes-Benz highlight at the NYIAS is the new-generation SL luxury roadster, which is celebrating its first public viewing here. Ernst Lieb, President and CEO of Mercedes-Benz USA comments, "As a design icon, the SL has embodied the fascination of the Mercedes-Benz brand for the last fifty years. The combination of classic SL styling characteristics with elements from the current Mercedes design language has made the new-generation more expressive and emotional."
The new-generation SL is also at the top of its class in terms of technology. The four engine variants include two optimised six-cylinders, providing increased performance with reduced fuel consumption. The three-litre V6in the new SL 280 entry model generates 170kW/231 bhp. The high-revving sports engine can be found under the bonnet of the SL 350. Its output has been increased by 16 percent against the previous 3.5 litre V6 to 232 kW/316 bhp, while maximum torque is up by 10 Nm to 360 Nm. With 9.9 litres per 100 km, the SL 350 is 0.4l/100 km more economical in the NEFZ driving cycle than its predecessor with 200 kw/272 bhp. At the top end of the model line-up are the V8-powered SL 500 and the twelve-cylinder SL 600. Their engines consume up to 0.4 l/100km less fuel than before. New to the SL are the AIRSCARF head-area heating, devised and patented by Mercedes-Benz, and the newly developed direct steer system, which increases the agility of the big roadster, while making it even safer and more comfortable.
Mercedes-AMG displays performance versions of the ML and SL
With the ML 63 AMG, SL 63 AMG and SL 65 AMG, performance brand Mercedes-AMG also shines the spotlight on new models in New York. The new power SUV and the AMG roadsters embody the pinnacle of sportiness, individuality and exclusivity.