National Mercedes-Benz product specialists arrived at Feldmann Imports on Tuesday with two exciting new models for the 2012 model year, the all new ML350 and the completely new model, the C250 Coupe. There are some very exciting developments to discuss here. The C250 should be in dealers inventory within a month or so. The ML will come a little later, in September of this year.
The 2012 ML350 has the same wheelbase, body pan and C pillar… beyond that, it’s a new vehicle entirely. It’s essentially the same size as the outgoing model, not too big, not too small… just right. The body has changed quite a big, most obviously in the front with a more upright grille lightly inspired by the SLS AMG, the way we’re seeing all of the Mercedes-Benz models going. It looks quite a bit different from the side as well, with door based style lines a bit more like the GLK and GL.
The electronics and telematics in the new ML are based on the newest NTG 4.5 system, which incorporates the navigation system, music management, all of the gadgets you can imagine. Pairing bluetooth phones is even easier than before, downloading phone books and contacts from your mobile phone is also a lot easier. The optional music register now handles up to 10MB of music storage, a USB port is now available along with the iPod interface, now neatly packed into the center console storage area… no more reaching over to the glove box to plug in your iPod or iPhone.
The new 3.5 liter engine in the ML350 is a direct injection unit. While horsepower has been bumped up from 268HP up to 302HP, fuel economy has increased by about 10% through the use of direct injection… interestingly enough… the 300SL from 1954 also had direct injection, so the concept is nothing new to Mercedes-Benz, they’ve just brought it back into one of their bread and butter models.
The C250 Coupe… wow, this is a great looking car, and to me, from the driver’s seat, feels A LOT like the E class coupe. The seats are great, fully sculpted and formed right to your body, there are nice, big chrome handles to electrically move the seats forward for easy back seat access. And no, I wouldn’t want to drive to California sitting in the back seat, but if you had to carry a couple of passengers you could… you just wouldn’t want to go too far if they were very tall. The C250 sports the Mercedes-Benz in-line 4 cylinder 1.8 liter turbo engine they’ve been using in their vehicles in Europe for years. There is no reason to think this is a brand new engine that will ‘have problems for the first few years’ it’s been available in C and E classes in Europe (where $4.00 a gallon gas would be considered a bargain!) for years.
This car got over 30mpg driving up from Chicago according to the trainer who drove it, and he didn’t realize he had it in 5th gear for more than an hour, after he had been playing around with the paddle shifters, and failing to put it back into automatic mode where it would have used 7th gear. It’s got 201HP and also uses direct injection technology to maximize efficiency.
I immediately noticed that the standard (non-Multi Media Package) screen for the stereo and other telematic items was larger… now 5.8 inches standard instead of 4 inches. It also gets the NTG 4.5 system with the USB port, also.. bluetooth audio streaming from your iPhone or other bluetooth music device.
In short… there are a lot of new features in these newest Mercedes-Benz models. I’m beginning to think we’re driving entertainment centers on wheels, but the good old transportation aspect of these cars remains top of the line.