The new Mercedes-Benz GL-Class is celebrating its Asian premiere in the Chinese capital at “Auto China 2006”, the nation’s most important motor show this year. The impressive seven-seater premium off-roader delivers outstanding handling dynamics both on and off the road and pampers occupants with its extremely spacious accommodation and the comfort of a luxury saloon. Also being unveiled before the Beijing public is the Chinese-produced E-Class, which has now commenced production at a new plant within the Beijing Development Area as part of a joint venture. A further highlight is due to occur on the eve of the show with the arrival of the 36 Mercedes-Benz E-Class models with clean diesel drive.These cars set off on a remarkable long-distance journey from Paris to Beijing on October 21, taking in nine different countries along the way.
The appearance of the new GL-Class in Beijing is its first on the Asian continent. This seven-seater premium off-roader, a new highlight in the market segment for luxury Sports Utility Vehicles, delivers outstanding handling dynamics both on and off the road and pampers occupants with its extremely spacious accommodation and the comfort of a luxury saloon. The GL-Class sets another milestone with the comprehensive PRE-SAFE safety concept, a first in this market segment. It therefore meets all the requirements of a state-of-the-art, innovative SUV and even redefines them on a higher level. Needless to say, hallmark Mercedes off-roader attributes such as superlative robustness, ruggedness and long-term durability have not been compromised in any way.
The design of the new GL-Class, with its sleek body surfaces, powerful features and striking details, exudes power and exclusivity and gives the impression that the luxury off-roader is surging forward even when stationary.
Four sophisticated powerplants two petrols and two diesels are responsible for the effortlessly superior performance at the heart of this multi-talented all-rounder. Both direct-injection diesel engines in the GL 320 CDI 4MATIC and GL 420 CDI 4MATIC models comply with the EU 4 emissions standard and feature a maintenance-free diesel particulate filter, fitted as standard, which reduces particulate emissions by a further 99 percent without the need for additives.
The new version of the V8 diesel unit in the GL 420 CDI 4MATIC develops 225 kW/306 hp, largely thanks to third-generation common-rail high-pressure injection, and lends the off-roader a distinctly sporty temperament. Meanwhile the tried-and-trusted V6 diesel engine in the GL 320 CDI 4MATIC weighs in with an output of 165 kW/224 hp and an impressive peak torque of 510 Nm. In addition to the newly developed 5.5-litre, 285-kW/388-hp engine in the GL 500 4MATIC, launched earlier in the new S-Class, the second unit in this ultra-sophisticated family of V8 engines is being used for the first time in the GL-Class. In the GL 450 4MATIC, it boasts an output of 250 kW/340 hp and a displacement of 4.6 litres.
All GL-Class engine variants come with the 7G-TRONIC seven-speed automatic transmission with DIRECT SELECT as standard. Excellent performance and low fuel consumption result from the perfect combination of state-of-the-art engines with 7G-TRONIC and the friction-optimised powertrain. Another important factor is the comparatively low gross vehicle weight thanks to the unitised body and the excellent aerodynamics (Cd 0.37) for such a large vehicle.
Mercedes-Benz undertakes 490,000-kilometre diesel marathon with 36 E Class models
On October 21, a total of 36 Mercedes-Benz E-Class models with clean diesel drive started out on a thrilling long-distance drive from Paris to Beijing, each aiming to cover the 13,600-kilometre route in its entirety. With this symbolic forging of links between Europe and Asia, Mercedes-Benz is once again demonstrating the outstanding capabilities of its latest diesel engines in terms of emissions, economy and operating range, even under the most extreme conditions. Over long stretches of the journey, this automotive marathon follows the route of the first transcontinental car race in history, which went from Peking to Paris in 1907. During the five stages of the journey, the new-generation E-Class models were piloted by around 330 drivers from 35 nations and covered a total of more than 490,000 kilometres in nine countries within 26 days, equivalent to circumnavigating the globe around the equator eleven and a half times.
The E-Class fleet lining up at the start in Paris on October 21 consisted of 36 standard E-Class models with clean diesel engines, some of them equipped with the 4MATIC all-wheel-drive system. In addition to the E 320 CDI, three E-Class cars equipped with BLUETEC were included. This forward-looking technology makes the Mercedes-Benz saloon the worlds cleanest diesel car. The E 320 BLUETEC is the first and only diesel in the world that can undercut the US exhaust emission standard BIN 8, which is particularly stringent with respect to nitrogen oxide emissions. Owing to its enormous operating range of up to 1,200 kilometres on a single tank of fuel, it is ideally suited to an automotive marathon like the Paris-Beijing experience as is the E 320 CDI.
The long-distance route from Europe to Asia passes through France, Germany, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Russia and Kazakhstan before ending in China. Unlike the historical event on which it is based, the E-Class long-distance trek is not about speed. Instead, the sporting challenge for the participants was to achieve the lowest possible fuel consumption for the separate stages and the overall distance. Even in regular operation, the E 320 CDI returns an average fuel consumption of just 7.3 to 7.6 litres per 100 kilometres, despite its high output of 165 kW/224 hp and a peak torque of 540 Nm.
The marathon event ended in Beijing on November 17 on the eve of the “Auto China 2006” show.
E-Class produced in China
Highlights at “Auto China 2006”, China’s most important motor show, include the locally produced E-Class business Saloon, which has now commenced production in a new plant within the Beijing Development Area as part of a joint venture.
The new-generation E-Class, produced to an exceptionally high standard in China, is a technology trendsetter that sets new benchmarks. With the standard-fit PRE SAFE safety system, the likewise standard NECK-PRO head restraints, the new Intelligent Light System and adaptive brake lights on board, it features innovations that no other car world-wide in this market segment can offer. This comprehensive safety equipment makes the E-Class the safest car in its class. Meanwhile the DIRECT CONTROL package with more direct steering and a retuned chassis, together with six new or enhanced engines, ensure substantially more agility and driving pleasure. While maintaining the same, favourable fuel economy, the engines develop up to 26 per cent more output and 18 per cent more torque.
The new BBDC plant with a site area of two million square metres and a production area of 210,000 square metres is currently home to production of the Mercedes-Benz E-Class and the Mitsubishi Outlander. Production of the Chrysler 300C Saloon is to commence shortly, while production of the next-generation Mercedes-Benz C-Class is also planned. BBDC has an annual production capacity for up to 25,000 Mercedes-Benz vehicles and 80,000 Chrysler and MMC vehicles, and there is scope to expand this if necessary.