Chassis in detail: Dynamism meets comfort

All models in the new M-Class range offer excellent comfort and superb driving dynamics as standard - both on the road and away from the tarmac. Besides the steel suspension with selective damping, there are also some new chassis developments and innovative dynamic handling control systems available, which are designed to make driving the new premium SUV an even more effortlessly superior experience. These include the AIRMATIC air suspension with Adaptive Damping System (ADS), the ACTIVE CURVE SYSTEM for active roll stabilisation and the ON&OFFROAD package with six driving modes. A comprehensive package of measures has also been included to ensure that the M-Class is at the forefront of its segment for acoustic and vibration comfort too. To ensure that the driving experience continues to be a complete pleasure after hundreds of thousands of kilometres, the development engineers punish both chassis and body in practical trials staged worldwide and in series of selective laboratory tests. Some of the toughest examinations here include the body testing facility and the road-simulation test rig.

A high level of comfort, dynamic on-road handling and excellent off-road capability are ingrained into the new Mercedes-Benz M-Class as standard. The chassis of the steel-sprung M-Class now includes selective damping for the first time, meaning the shock absorbers' compensatory forces are of a flexible nature, rather than having a rigid setting. During normal driving on moderately uneven roads or off-road excursions at low speeds, the system is tuned for a gentler ride to the benefit of the occupants' sense of wellbeing and the vehicle's off-road abilities. In order to keep the occupants feeling at their ease when driving at a brisker pace or performing abrupt evasive manoeuvres, the dampers switch to a firmer setting in such circumstances for a high level of handling stability. The M-Class driver is helped here by an electric steering system that provides the optimum level of power assistance to suit the particular driving situation. The system therefore makes light work of parking or off-road manoeuvres by maximising steering assistance. The SUV also scores here with the tightest turning circle in its market segment. The 180‑degree turn is negotiated within a circle diameter of just 11.8 metres. As the speed increases, however, assistance is reduced in favour of greater directional stability.

For those who want to venture off surfaced roads, the ML 350 BlueTEC 4MATIC and ML 350 BlueEFFICIENCY 4MATIC models feature an extensive off-road specification as standard, which considerably enhances their capabilities when the going gets tough. Apart from 4MATIC permanent all-wheel drive and the electronic traction control system 4ETS, this also includes an off-road button that activates a special off-road driving mode:

To improve traction, the wheel slip thresholds and the shift points of the 7G-TRONIC PLUS transmission are raised
A flatter accelerator response curve enables more sensitive throttle control
Off-road ABS ensures optimum braking characteristics, especially on loose surfaces

Start-off Assist and the HOLD function furthermore come to the driver's assistance when performing a hill start, while Downhill Speed Regulation, or DSR, enables the M-Class to automatically maintain the speed set with the cruise control lever on descents.

For anyone wishing to go exploring off the beaten track even more in the new M-Class, there is the optional ON&OFFROAD package.

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