Mercedes Benz’s titanic M-Class makes its reappearance next month at the Detroit Motor Show and its evolutionary styling adds glitz to the extensive list of changes beneath the surface.

Mercedes Benz’s titanic M-Class makes its reappearance next month at the Detroit Motor Show and its evolutionary styling adds glitz to the extensive list of changes beneath the surface.

Available in both five-and seven-door versions, it will be considerably larger than its predecessor. The wheelbase has been extended by 95 mm to 2,9 m and this SUV is 150 mm longer, 71 mm wider and nine mm lower than the previous version.

The new platform will be used in the new Jeep Grand Cherokee, the Mercedes Benz R-Class station wagon-4x4 crossover and possibly also in the next G-Class.

At the M-Class’ world launch, three of the four powerplants will be new. The ML 320 CDI’s V6 diesel engine produces 167 kW and maximum torque of 510 N.m from 1 600 r/min. The six-cylinder in the ML 280 CDI pushes out 141 kW and peak torque of 440 N.m. Another new powerplant is the ML 350’s V6 petrol unit, producing 203 kW and maximum torque of 350 N.m. The range-topping ML 500 will be fitted with the proven 228 kW V8 petrol engine.

All M-Classes will be equipped with Mercedes’ seven-speed automatic transmission. The 7G-tronic system can be operated electronically with a lever positioned close to the steering wheel, or with gearshift buttons mounted on the steering wheel.

For off-road adventures, the special package with differential locks, air suspension and permanent four-wheel drive now has additional functions such as a downhill driving aid, Start-Off Assist and an off-road ABS system. The (optional) off–road package’s air suspension raises ground clearance to as much as 291 mm, while at the same time increasing ride comfort. An on-road version of the Airmatic system will also be available.

The double wishbone front, and four-link rear suspension have been reworked for the new M-Class.

On the safety front, the occupant protection system is underpinned by a self-supporting body structure with large deformation zones. All models have a monocoque body structure rather than a traditional separate ladder-frame chassis.

Standard safety technology includes adaptive two-stage airbags for the front occupants, front side- and curtain airbags, as well as belt tensioners and belt force limiters. New crash responsive head restraints provide additional protection for the front occupants in a rear-end collision.

The Pre-Safe system prepares both the vehicle and its occupants for possible impact. Linked to the ABS, EBA and ESP systems (whose sensors identify dangerous driving manoeuvres), it will act in advance to tighten seat belts and even close the sunroof if it detects that the vehicle is about to overturn.

The interior is voluminous, with ample leg- and head room for all passengers. With up to 2 050 litres of loadspace for luggage and equipment, the modular Easy Pack system makes it easier to load and unload the SUV.

Comfort and convenience equipment are extensive and include automatic climate control, parking assistance, and Bi-Xenon headlights with a cornering light function.