Set to debut to US audiences with a starring role in the upcoming Steven Spielberg sequel to "Jurrasic Park" entitled "The Lost World", the all new Mercedes M class promises to shake up the Sport Utility market with a fresh dose of German engineering. Production styling promises to play on the theme introduced in the concept car pictured here.
Just released chassis details provide a glimpse of the Mercedes approach to this type of vehicle. Designed from the ground up for sport utility duty and not truck based, as are most SUVs, the M class should set new standards for ride and handling. Key component is an exceptionally strong separate frame with beefy box section members. Front and rear subframes and 10 rubber body mounts provide isolation from road shocks and noise. Unlike most sport utility vehicles, the M Class frame is designed so that it will not override a passenger car's body structure in a collision and designed in crash boxes absorb energy in minor collisions to prevent frame distortion and reduce repair costs. True four wheel independent suspension is unique in this segment and features high-strength forged alloy components to further reduce unsprung weight and improve ride quality.
The four wheel drive system itself is a sophisticated adaptation of Mercedes proven electronic traction system which senses wheel slip electronically and brakes the slipping wheels to deliver torque to the tires with the most grip on any road surface. The system provides mobility even when 3 wheels lose traction, unlike conventional four wheel drive systems and aids maneuverability both on and off road compared to conventional locking differentials which can bind in tight steering situations. The open differentials allow uncompromised ABS operation as well unlike manually locking differentials. The ABS features a special off-road algorithm to keep braking distances short in slippery conditions.