Mercedes-Benz unveils latest fuel-efficient SUV

Mercedes-Benz has unveiled its latest SUV, a fuel-efficient model designed to help it overtake rival BMW.

The new third-generation Mercedes-Benz M-Class promises to cut fuel consumption by 25 percent compared to the previous model, and is described as a "quantum leap" by the German automaker.

It could enable Mercedes-Benz to gain a lead on BMW's rival, the X5 SUV, with analyst forecasts predicting that there could be a sales difference of as little as 1,000 by 2013.

The greenest of the engine options, the ML 250 BlueTEC 4 MATIC, is a 2.0-liter engine which replaces the previous V-6 3.0-liter model and offers fuel efficiency of 6.0l/100lkm, a fuel saving of some 28 percent, according to Mercedes-Benz's calculation.

While acceleration is slowed by 0.7 seconds on the 0-100km/h sprint, the top speed of 210 km/h is the same, as is the power output of 150kW.

Impressively, the range on a full tank of fuel is 1,500 kilometers, when using the optional 93-liter tank.

Other eco-friendly additions include start-stop as standard, a seven-speed automatic transmission and systems that are optimized to reduce fuel burn, such as fuel/oil pumps and coolant compressors which only run when necessary.

The model is also the most aerodyanamically-efficient in its class, claims Mercedes-Benz, although the automaker shows no sign of stopping there, with Daimler boss Dieter Zetsche hinting that a diesel-hybrid version of the model is in the works.

The model will go on sale next month - prices have not yet been confirmed.

http://www.mercedes-benz.com

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