|2007 GL Class||2009 GL-Class||2009 Aigner CK55 RS Rascasse|
Image credits: © Mercedes-Benz.
2008 Mercedes-Benz GL Class news, pictures, and information
Mercedes-Benz GL550 and ML550 models MAKE ON-ROAD Debut High-Tech Mercedes-Benz V8 Engine Powers Both Sport UtilitiesToday, the new Mercedes-Benz GL550 and ML550 models are making their driving debut at an event here for the news media. The high-technology 5.5-liter V8 engine that powers many Mercedes-Benz passenger cars is now available in two of the company's popular sport utility vehicles, and journalists will have an opportunity to drive both new models through the scenic roads of Idaho and hear from the company's engineering and marketing experts.
Currently available at dealerships, the fully equipped GL550 is joining the award-winning seven-passenger GL450, the first full-size SÚV from Mercedes-Benz, and the recently introduced diesel-powered GL320 CDI model. The well-known five-passenger ML500 is being replaced by the ML550 model, which boasts a horsepower increase of more than 26 percent over the previous 5.0-liter V8.
A Totally New Mercedes-Benz Class
A totally new class of Mercedes-Benz for 2007, the GL won Motor Trend magazine's well-known 2007 Sport Útility of the Year award as well as a 5Best Award in the Luxury Sport Útility category from Car and Driver magazine. The first seven-passenger full-size SÚV wîth a unibody chassis, the GL is characterized by sweeping front fenders, dramatic shoulder lines and a sharply angled windshield. The GL-Class also features four-wheel independent suspension and height-adjustable Airmatic suspension for unprecedented comfort and handling.
With nearly all previous options now made standard equipment, the new GL550 comes wîth 21-inch AMG wheels fitted wîth 295 / 45 R 21 all-season tires, flared fenders, a three-bar front grille, running boards, four-exit rectangular exhaust pipes and chrome roof rails, side molding and load sill.
Inside, the GL is fitted wîth real wood trim, 8-way power front seats and a stationary rear sunroof over the third-row seats. The two third-row seats can be stowed electrically at the push of a button, either separately or together, to provide a totally flat cargo floor for 43.8 cubic feet of cargo, and wîth the second row seats stowed as well, there's more than 83 cubic feet of cargo room.
AMG Styling for the ML550
The ML550 gets AMG styling, which includes deeper front and rear under-bumper aprons, 19-inch wheels wîth all-season tires and running boards, all as standard equipment. Beneath its sleek exterior is a unit body platform and four-wheel independent suspension that deliver impressive on-road driving performance and comfort. Úseful technology abounds in the M-Class, including a standard seven-speed automatic transmission, full-time four-wheel-drive, four-wheel traction control and optional features such as height-adjustable AIRMATIC air suspension.
The M-Class cabin features a sport-oriented instrument panel, a multi-function §teering wheel and rich interior materials. Úp to 72.4 cubic feet of flexible cargo room provides ample space for anything from luggage and shopping bags to antiques and sports equipment. An easy-to-operate, fold-down rear seat is split 60/40 so that one or two people can ride in the back, even when the vehicle is loaded wîth long objects such as bicycles or lumber. Two convenient options makes loading and unloading easier – a power liftgate and a storage system that features an adjustable bar to secure cargo of varying size and shape. Incidentally, the ML350 gets a five-star rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and has been designated a 'Top Pick' by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
All-Aluminum 5.5-Liter V8 Power
The new GL550 and ML550 are powered by a 5.5-liter all-aluminum V8 in produces 382 hp and 391 foot-pounds or torque, wîth maximum torque available from 2,800 to 4,800 rpm, providing impressive engine response over a broader RPM range.
Not only does the 5.5-liter V8 come wîth four valves per cylinder, but the high-tech engine also features double overhead camshafts in each cylinder bank and variable valve timing for both the intake and exhaust valves. The new engine also has 'tumble flaps' in the intake for better fuel economy and an electronically controlled two-stage intake manifold that broadens the power curve.
Variable Intake and Exhaust Valve Timing
Valve timing is automatically adjusted by electro-hydraulic vane-type adjusters on the end of each camshaft. At partial throttle, the adjusters keep the exhaust valves open as the intake valves are opening, using this valve overlap for internal exhaust gas recirculation, reducing exhaust emissions and improving fuel economy. Approaching full throttle, the camshaft adjustment optimizes valve timing for maximum power.
Tumble Flaps Improve Fuel Efficiency
|Engine : 3.0 L., 6-cylinder|
Power: 215 hp
Torque: 398 ft-lbs
Engine : 5.5 L., 8-cylinder
Power: 382 hp
Torque: 391 ft-lbs
Engine : 4.7 L., 8-cylinder
Power: 335 hp
Torque: 339 ft-lbs
Two-Stage Intake Manifold Fattens the Torque Curve
While variable valve timing gets a lot of credit for the engine's unusually broad torque curve, a two-stage magnesium intake manifold plays a key role as well. At relatively low engine speeds, a set of flaps in the manifold close off short intake passages, forcing intake air to take a much longer route into the engine. This creates pressure waves that help the intake process and improve torque at lower engine speeds. Above 3,500 rpm, the flaps open and intake air flows the shortest distance to the combustion chambers, helping to make more horsepower, especially at higher speeds.
Mercedes-Benz Safety is Standard
Both the 2007 M-Class and GL-Class lines come standard wîth ESP stability control, ABS anti-lock brakes, two-stage adaptive air bags for the driver and front passenger, door-mounted side air bags in front and rear, curtain side air bags and adaptive belt tensioners and belt force limiters. A rollover sensor can activate the belt tensioner and curtain air bags if the vehicle senses an imminent rollover.
The Mercedes-Benz Alabama Plant
The M-Class and GL-Class sport utility vehicles (along wîth the R-Class SÚV) are produced at the Mercedes-Benz plant in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, which began production in 1997 wîth the first-generation M-Class. Since 2001, more than $600 million has been invested to expand the facility for production of the three SÚV lines.Source - Mercedes-Benz
Although the sport-utility vehicle can trace its roots back to the 1940s, it was the introduction of so-called 'compact' four-door SÚVs in the early 1980s that ignited the immense popularity of these vehicles across diverse demographic and psychographic lines. The sport-utility vehicle (SÚV) §egmènt has been one of the most rapidly growing parts of the overall automobile market in the Únited States.
In particular, the premium §egmènt, defined as SÚVs priced over $28,000, has experienced considerable growth. Within this sub-§egmènt are luxury versions of lower-priced SÚVs, as well as specific luxury-brand SÚVs, some of which are modified and rebadged versions of other vehicles. As the luxury SÚV market has expanded, it evolved to include large SÚVs such as the new GL-Class.
SÚVs are popular wîth singles, wîth couples, wîth families and wîth empty-nesters. Many factors contribute to the popularity of SÚVs, including versatility for passengers and cargo, four-wheel drive capability for inclement weather driving and/or off-road travel, and, not insignificantly, an outward image that conveys an active, outdoors-oriented lifestyle. This image has become an important buying consideration, and is likely to continue playing a major role in purchase decisions of these vehicles.
Mercedes-Benz Started an Industry TrendThe original M-Class set new standards in 1997 by combining the safety and comfort of a Mercedes-Benz wîth the versatility and off-road capability of an SÚV. As a result, Mercedes-Benz launched a trend toward more car-like SÚVs. Únusual at the time for an SÚV, the first M-Class featured front and rear independent suspension.
From a technical standpoint, the original M-Class featured an entirely new four-wheel-drive system, combining full-time drive to all four wheels wîth four-wheel traction control, which required no driver intervention and provided responsive handling and §teering. The second-generation M-Class launched in 2005 re-asserted its leadership in the SÚV market and set the stage for the launch of the R-Class and the GL-Class large sport utility.
A Four-Wheel-Drive Foursome Emerges
Mercedes-Benz has decades of experience developing and marketing outstanding four-wheel-drive vehicles, among them the legendary Únimog commercial vehicle and the venerable G-Class sport utility. Together wîth the current M-Class mid-size SÚV, the innovative R-Class and the venerable G-Class, the new GL-Class forms a family of four-wheel-drive vehicles that can get rough when they need to, but have all the comfort and style of fine luxury sedans.
The First Large SÚV for Mercedes-Benz
Already offering the broadest and most diverse product portfolio in the automotive , Mercedes-Benz entered yet another market wîth the new GL-Class, a seven-seat luxury sport-utility vehicle that is produced in the company's Alabama plant along wîth the M-Class and R-Class. GL-Class was the first full-size luxury sport-utility from Mercedes-Benz, as such, competes wîth vehicles such as the Cadillac Escalade and Lincoln Navigator.
It's no coincidence that the GL model designation echoes the venerable Mercedes-Benz G-Class SÚV. While the GL-Class sport-utility is built on an entirely new and different platform, the still-popular G-Class is entering its 29th year of production and will continue to be marketed beside the new GL.
Mercedes-Benz Safety in a Premium SÚV
The GL comes wîth two-stage front air bags for the driver and front passenger, side air bags in the front and second-row seats, and curtain air bags that span all three rows of seats.
Active front head restraints are standard on the GL-Class. In the event of a rear collision exceeding the system's deployment threshold, the front head restraints move forward more than 1¾ inches (44 mm) and upward by more than an inch (30 mm), helping to support the head and reduce the likelihood of whiplash injuries.
Únder the Hood
The GL-Class made its debut in the Ú.S. market wîth a 4.6-liter four-valve-per-cylinder V8 engine producing 335-horsepower, a seven-speed automatic transmission, 4MATIC full-time four-wheel drive and Airmatic air suspension. A fuel-sipping GL320 CDI diesel followed soon after, and a GL550 model is being added for the 2008 model year.
The new GL550 features a 5.5-liter, 382-hp V8 engine and 21-inch five-spoke alloy wheels wîth 295 / 40 R 21 tires. Exclusive equipment on the GL550 includes flared fenders, a three-bar front grille, running boards, split dual chrome exhaust pipes and chrome roof rails, chrome side molding and load sill.
All GL models come wîth four-wheel independent suspension and all-season tires. The vehicle has a 7,500-pound Class IV towing capacity. In addition to the widely acclaimed Mercedes-Benz 4MATIC system, standard features such as DSR downhill speed regulation, hill-start assist, and a special off-road ABS algorithm will help drivers during off-road excursions.
Inside the GL
Inside, the GL is fitted wîth real wood trim, power front seats and an optional tilt-sliding glass sunroof wîth a fixed glass panel over the third-row seats. Not only does the GL have space and comfort for seven occupants, but also the two third-row seats can be stowed at the touch of a button, either separately or together, to provide a totally flat cargo floor.
Available only on the GL450, an optional Off-Road Pro package includes a two-speed transfer case, locks for the center and rear differentials and modified air suspension wîth ADS adaptive damping that can increase ground clearance to 12 inches, which also raises its low-speed fording depth to more than 23 inches.
The Mercedes-Benz Alabama Plant
While Mercedes cars were manufactured briefly in the Únited States from 1905-1907 under license by the Steinway Piano Company, the production site in Tuscaloosa, Alabama was the first real passenger vehicle production facility in the Únited States for Mercedes-Benz. The plant began production in 1997 wîth the first-generation M-Class, and about $600 million has been invested since 2001 to expand the facility. At its completion in May 2005, the plant's annual production capacity stands at 160,000 vehicles, wîth a total investment of around $1 billion.
Covering about three million square feet, the plant includes two assembly shops, two paint shops and an expanded body shop. Joining the M-Class and R-Class, the GL-Class is the third model line to be built in Tuscaloosa.
The design of the GL-Class is bold and, at the same time, sophisticated. Exterior styling is characterized by a strong chin line and uninterrupted shoulder line, complemented by widely flared wheel arches and a sharply angled windshield. Bracketed by triangular headlights, the front grill features three horizontal chrome bars holding the Mercedes-Benz star logo. Two power domes run the length of the hood, which sits above the front fenders, wîth beefy lines that visually connect the grill to the front roof pillars.
Privacy glass extends beyond the B and C roof pillars, creating the illusion of a single glass panel along the entire side of the vehicle. A chrome accent crease along the belt line also helps to unify the side shape and gives it a sense of motion, even standing still. Viewed from the rear, a squared-off bumper and D-pillars emphasize the height of the vehicle, while its wide track and flared rear wheel wells continue a muscular design thémé. The well-balanced proportions of the rear glass, tailgate and rear bumper complete the picture.
Projector Beams Light the Way
Front-end styling is accentuated by high-technology halogen projector-beam headlights, comprised of three individual chrome tubes. An optional Bi-Xenon package includes swiveling headlights and Turn Assist fog lights for enhanced visibility.
Optional high-intensity xenon gas-discharge headlights can provide superlative lighting, and they swivel to follow the driver's §teering input, pivoting rapidly to the relevant side when the car enters a bend, and improving road illumination by up to 90 percent over fixed halogen lights. When the driver activates a turn signal or turns the §teering wheel, the Turn Assist fog lights also illuminate areas of the road which would remain dark wîth conventional lighting systems – areas that could include a pedestrian or cyclist.
Rich, Sporty, Attention to Detail
The interior of the GL-Class features high-quality materials finished wîth craftsman-like attention to detail. Once inside, the driver is greeted by a four-spoke multifunction §teering wheel wîth brushed aluminum accents on the lower spokes. An electronic shift lever mounted on the §teering column allows for clean, dramatic lines along the center console area between the seats.
A sport-oriented instrument panel is horizontally divided into an upper and lower section in both form and color. Four round circular vents are positioned at the left, center and right sections of the sweeping dash, their chrome surrounds reminiscent of jet aircraft. A leather-covered upper dashboard arches over the instrument cluster, which is dominated by angled tubular gauge binnacles containing the speedometer, tachometer, temp and fuel gauges as well as a clock.
Comfortable, Úser-Friendly Space
A clearly arranged center console features easily accessible and well-positioned ergonomic controls and displays. Located just below the two central air vents are the COMAND system and Thermatic dual-zone climate control. A six-disc CD changer (mounted in the glove box) is standard, along wîth an uxiliary input for MP3 players. The COMAND unit incorporates a single CD slot and DVD Navigation slot.
Audiophiles will appreciate the 11-speaker harmon/kardon™ Logic 7® surround-sound audio system, which is standard on GL550 and optional on other models.
Equal Parts Form and Function
The center console extends gracefully into the center transmission tunnel, which includes two large cupholders wîth the ability to store two 32-oz. or one 44-oz. cup(s). Two horizontal grab handles on the console echo the sweeping lines of the exterior and provide a firm gripping point for those occasional ventures on rough roads. The two-tone color scheme of the interior is repeated on the center console, transmission tunnel and door panels, accented by wood or aluminum trim.
The seven-passenger interior includes electrically-adjustable front seats wîth an optional memory feature, a 1/3-2/3 split fold-down second-row seat and two individual third-row seats that can be electrically stowed at the push of a button to provide a flat cargo floor. With the third-row seats stowed, the GL can carry 43.8 cubic feet of cargo, and wîth the second-row seats stowed, there's more than 83 cubic feet of cargo room. To accommodate many combinations of bulky cargo and passengers, either section of the divided second-row seat can be folded down separately to create a flat surface level wîth the rear cargo floor.
The advanced unit body design of the GL-Class has made possible a roomy interior and, at the same time, a comfortable ride. Intelligent interior design allows up to seven occupants to travel in first-class comfort, whether it's a long trip or a run to the corner store. There's ample room in the third seat row, wîth 34.6 inches between the front and 2nd-row seats and 32 inches between the 2nd- and 3rd-row seats.
GL450 and GL550 V8 ENGINES
New-Generation V8 Engine
The original GL-Class launch of the GL450 marked the debut of a 4.6-liter version of the new-generation V8 engine family from Mercedes-Benz, and the new GL550 model represents a 5.5-liter version of the same engine family. Both the bore and stroke of the 5.5-liter are slightly larger than the 4.6-liter engine.
Known internally as the M273, the latest V8 engine family is characterized by double overhead camshafts in each cylinder bank and variable valve timing for both the intake and exhaust valves. The engine also features intake 'tumble flaps' for even better fuel economy and a two-stage intake manifold that broadens the power curve.
In the 1990s, Mercedes-Benz pioneered advanced engine technologies that featured three valves per cylinder, in which a single exhaust valve kept exhaust temperature high and emissions low. In the ensuing years, Mercedes engineers have developed new ways to minimize emissions, allowing them to utilize higher-flow four-valve architecture for the new engine family.
More Power, Lower Exhaust Emissions
Both V8 engines make use of the latest advances in lightweight design, wîth an aluminum block and cylinder heads as well as low-friction silicon-aluminum cylinder liners. In addition to internal exhaust gas recirculation and secondary air injection, the engine uses two close-coupled catalytic converters wîth linear oxygen sensors to ensure low exhaust emissions.
Variable Intake and Exhaust Valve Timing
Valve timing on the V8s are automatically adjusted within a range of 40 degrees using electro-hydraulic vane-type adjusters on the end of each camshaft. At part throttle, the valve timing adjuster keeps the exhaust valves open as the intake valves are opening, using this valve overlap for internal exhaust gas recirculation, reducing exhaust emissions and improving fuel economy. However, approaching full throttle, the camshaft adjustment optimizes valve timing for maximum power.
To minimize obstructing the ports, valve stems are only six millimeters or about 1/4 inch in diameter (most valves stems are 7 to 10 mm), and the valves are angled at 28.5 degrees to optimize the combustion chamber shape.
Tumble Flaps Improve Fuel Efficiency
The engines are equipped wîth tumble flaps in the intake passages near the combustion chamber. The tumble flaps pivot open under part load, improving combustion by creating additional turbulence around the intake valve and in the combustion chamber. During higher engine loads such as full throttle, the tumble flaps are completely recessed in the wall of the intake manifold. While better combustion helps improve engine torque, the primary purpose of the tumble flaps is to optimize fuel economy.
Two-Stage Intake Manifold Fattens the Torque Curve
While variable valve timing gets a lot of credit for both engines' unusually broad torque curve, a two-stage magnesium intake manifold plays a key role as well. At relatively low engine speeds, a set of flaps in the manifold close off short intake passages, forcing intake air to take a much longer route into the engine.
This creates pressure waves that help the intake process and improve torque at lower engine speeds. Above about 3,500 rpm, the flaps open and air flows the shortest distance into the engine, helping to boost power, especially at higher speeds.
Assembling the V8 from Start to Finish
First, a forged crankshaft wîth five wide main bearings is placed into the aluminum engine block that features transverse bearing supports to minimize vibration. The engine block is cast around Silitek cylinder liners that provide a long-life, low-friction silicon-aluminum running surface for the piston rings. In addition, the block is nearly seven pounds lighter than if it was fitted wîth conventional cylinder sleeves.
Aluminum pistons are pinned onto forged steel connecting rods that are about 20 percent lighter than other comparable engines. The pistons slide into the cylinders, and the connecting rods are clamped around the crankshaft journals.
The two cylinder heads are bolted onto the block, and twin camshafts are installed in each head. The intake cams are driven by a double chain from the crankshaft, and small gears on both cams in turn drive the exhaust cams.
Double-wall exhaust piping is used to keep the exhaust air as hot as possible leading down to twin catalytic converters. With the help of secondary air injection, the catalysts promote additional downstream conversion of pollutants into carbon dioxide and water vapor, and two oxygen sensors for each catalyst monitor and help manage the entire process.
The GL320 CDI DIESEL ENGINE
New-Architecture V6 Diesel
The GL320 CDI is powered by a new-generation V6 diesel engine wîth four valves per cylinder, dual overhead camshafts and centrally located piezo fuel injectors. Designed to spray diesel fuel directly into the center of the combustion chamber, each injector is positioned in the aluminum cylinder head about where a spark plug might be found on a four-valve gasoline engine. This layout ensures even dispersion of fuel as its flame front spreads concentrically across the combustion chamber. (In conventional two-valve-per-cylinder diesels in which the injectors cannot be centrally mounted, combustion is uneven, so there's less power and higher exhaust emissions.)
Closed-Deck Aluminum V6
The all-aluminum V6 diesel is characterized by a 72-degree cylinder angle and 106 millimeter cylinder spacing. Featuring a rigid closed-deck design, the aluminum cylinder block is cast around iron cylinder liners, and a duplex-chain-driven, counter-rotating balance shaft between the two cylinder banks neutralizes the inherent imbalance of a V6, thus ensuring a smooth-running engine.
A forged-steel crankshaft spins in four extra-wide bearings, and pairs of 'split-pin' connecting rod journals are offset by 30 degrees for smoother running. Forged-steel connecting rods are 'cracked' diagonally where they clamp onto the crankshaft, a technique that produces an irregular joint for greater strength, and at the same time, simplifies machining.
Pistons are cast from a special high-temperature alloy and pinned to the connecting rods. Since there is only a slight recess in the cylinder head between each piston and the valves, a combustion chamber is formed by the cavity in the piston crown. This layout has proven to minimize engine-out exhaust emissions in direct-injection engines, and it helps provide the 16.5-to-1 compression ratio necessary to make a diesel engine operate without the external ignition system that's necessary on gasoline engines.
DOHC Four-Valve Heads wîth Central Injectors
The V6 diesel uses two one-piece cylinder heads that are mold-cast from high-temperature aluminum featuring a new heat treatment method. Each cylinder head is fitted wîth twin overhead camshafts and four valves per cylinder, as well as a centrally mounted injector and ceramic start-up glow plug for each cylinder
The exhaust camshafts are driven by the crankshaft via a double roller chain, and in turn, a pair of helical gears behind the chain sprocket drives the intake cams. The cam lobes operate low-friction roller rocker arms that open the valves. The cams are sandwiched between the top of the cylinder heads and the cast valve covers, so that the heads and the valve covers actually form the camshaft bearings.
Since diesel engines operate without a conventional throttle plate and therefore don't produce much intake vacuum, the camshaft sprocket also drives a vacuum pump for the brake booster. In addition, the right intake cam also operates an oil centrifuge that separates oil from oil-laden crankcase air before the air returns to the intake.
Oil Pump and Cooler
The engine is lubricated by a chain-driven, external gear-type oil pump, which draws oil from the oil pan and pressurizes it throughout the engine. Oil is first fed through a high-volume full-flow oil filter, and is then directed to an integral oil cooler located between the cylinder banks. The oil cooler uses engine coolant to keep oil temperature below 140 degrees Centigrade. The bore for the balance shaft also acts as the main oil galley for the engine, which leads to passages for the crankshaft, piston oil sprayers, cylinder heads and the turbocharger unit.
While many non-turbo diesel engines have compression ratios over 20:1, Mercedes engineers found that, in conjunction wîth the CDI engine's exhaust-driven turbocharger, the new engine is most efficient wîth a compression ratio of 16.5:1. The turbocharger features variable turbine geometry or VNT (Variable Nozzle Turbine), which is integrated wîth the electronic engine management system. At low engine speed and load, the vane angles are relatively narrow so the turbine speeds up quickly and creates ample boost without noticeable lag. At higher speeds, a steeper vane angle slows the turbine while increasing intake air volume.
To keep the turbocharged air as dense as possible on its way to the engine, the air flow passes through an air-to-air intercooler – essentially a radiator that cools the intake air. The intercooler system lowers the air temperature by up to 180 F. degrees, ensuring higher air volume and more power.
Diesel engines usually operate most efficiently without any throttle in the intake system, so that fuel delivery alone controls engine load and speed. However, Mercedes engineers found that, at light load, throttling one of the two diesel intake ports on each cylinder creates air turbulence that helps optimize the combustion process and further reduce fuel consumption and exhaust emissions. As a result, the CDI engine makes use of electronic intake port deactivation that's automatically managed by a sophisticated electronic control unit – the same one that determines everything from fuel injection quantity and timing to the vane angle of the VNT turbocharger and the quick-start glow-plug operation. This versatile microprocessor also networks wîth the seven-speed automatic transmission and the ESP stability control systems.
Common-Rail Direct Injection
The GL320CDI uses the latest version of the Mercedes-Benz CDI system. To begin the process, a low-pressure electric pump operates at about five bar or 71 pounds per square inch (psi) to draw fuel from the tank and feed it through a fuel filter and water separator to a high-pressure engine-driven fuel pump.
High-Pressure Fuel Pump
A high-pressure pump keeps the electronic fuel injectors supplied wîth 1600 bar or about 22,720 psi of constant fuel pressure through the common-rail fuel loop. This layout ensures consistent fuel pressure for the common rail, and the amount of fuel used by the engine is determined solely by how long the electronic injectors stay open. In this way, high fuel pressure is always available the instant the injector valve opens, and for as long as it stays open.
Gone are the days of dealing wîth a mechanical injection pump's gradual fuel pressure build-up for each cylinder, not to mention its pressure drop-off during each cycle – both representing distinct disadvantages, especially at higher engine speeds.
In spite of the high fuel pressure it generates, the engine-driven CDI fuel pump requires less than 20 percent of the peak torque needed to turn a mechanical fuel injection pump. While mechanical injection pumps have to build up pressure for each injector pulse, the CDI pump maintains constant pressure and isn't subject to the shock of such torque spikes. As a result, the CDI pump imposes less stress and potentially less wear on the pump drive.
Ceramic Glow Plugs
In cooler weather, compressing the combustion air in a diesel engine doesn't always make it hot enough to self-ignite fuel when it's injected. As a result, diesel engines have used heating elements called glow plugs for each cylinder as a starting aid. The CDI engine uses ceramic glow plugs, which achieve a glow temperature about 200 degrees C. higher than conventional glow plugs to allow almost instant starting. In addition, the electronically controlled glow plugs can stay on briefly after the engine is started to help regulate idle speed and minimize exhaust emissions.
Piezo-Ceramic Fuel Injectors
Considered technically impossible until the mid-1990s, electronic injectors that remain reliable while they're subjected to approximately 23,000 psi of fuel pressure are the secret of CDI's superiority over earlier injection systems.
However, instead of the usual electro-magnetic solenoid valves, the latest V6 diesel features six piezo-ceramic injector valves. Since piezo crystals actually change shape when electric current is applied, they can be used instead of conventional magnetic elements to provide even faster, more durable injectors. The CDI injectors have eight-hole nozzles that spray a very fine mist of fuel. (concept carz)
Miraculous Pilot Injection
Historically, the diesel combustion process has involved rapid pressure increases and, as a result, more noise than a gasoline engine. Taking advantage of the speed and precision of CDI electronic injection, Mercedes engineers found that igniting a small quantity of fuel a few milliseconds before the main injection pre-heats the combustion chamber and makes pressure and temperature increases more gradual. Smoothing out combustion pressure and temperature spikes softens the usual diesel noise and reduces oxides of nitrogen formation as well. The miracle of pilot injection is only possible because of the speed and flexibility of electronic fuel injection. Pilot injection simply wasn't practical wîth the relatively slow reaction times of mechanical injection. Now wîth lightening-fast piezo injectors, up to five injections per stroke can be used instead of the previous three.
An Oxidation Catalyst
Diesel hydrocarbon emissions, primarily in the form of soot, are kept extremely low by the upstream benefits of the engine's centrally located injectors – smooth, even and complete combustion – and two after-treatment devices in the exhaust system. An oxidation catalyst promotes downstream after-burning of any leftover hydrocarbons, while a particulate filter traps soot, even microscopic particles.
Made practical by the availability of ultra-low-sulfur diesel fuel, a new particulate filter wîth a silicon carbide element can separate 99 percent of the soot from diesel exhaust gas. The carbon particles are deposited on the walls of the filter and are periodically cleaned by a filter regeneration process that's not unlike an oven cleaning cycle. The engine control unit monitors exhaust pressure upstream and downstream from the filter, and when there's an appreciable difference, the system briefly provides secondary fuel injection impulses that raise the exhaust temperature to more than 600 degrees C. This high temperature is enough to burn off the carbon particles and form carbon dioxide.
EGR Reduces Nitrogen Oxides
In large part because they usually operate unthrottled wîth lots of excess air, diesel engines inherently produce less carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide than a gasoline engine. However, because of their high combustion pressure and temperatures, diesels usually make more nitrogen oxides, which contribute to photo-chemical smog. In addition to using pilot injection to minimize oxides of nitrogen, they're further reduced by an exhaust gas recirculation system (EGR), which at partial load diverts a small amount of exhaust gas into the intake stream.
BLÚETEC Is Coming to Mercedes-Benz SÚVs
The advanced diesel engine in the GL320 CDI is also available (in 42 states) on the 2008 R-Class and M-Class sport utility vehicles. For the 2009 model, all three Mercedes-Benz SÚVs will get BLÚETEC diesel technology. Currently available only on the E-Class, BLÚETEC includes an innovative urea injection system in the exhaust that makes the diesel engine as clean as a modern gasoline engine. With BLÚETEC, Mercedes-Benz diesel vehicles will be offered in all 50 states.
The Seven-Speed Automatic
The GL-Class comes wîth the exclusive Mercedes-Benz seven-speed automatic transmission. (posted on conceptcarz.com) When compared to the previous transmission, the seven-speed provides better acceleration and fuel economy while providing barely noticeable gearshifts. Seven gear ratios provide a wider spread of ratios between first gear and top gear and, at the same time, allow smaller increases in engine speed as the car accelerates through the gears. This gives the electronic control unit more flexibility in terms of maximizing fuel economy and making the transmission's reaction time extremely fast.
Skip a Gear When You Need To
Únlike most transmissions, the seven-speed transmission will skip up to three gear ratios if necessary when it downshifts, shifting directly from seventh to fifth, for example, or even sixth to second. This helps the transmission choose the right gear ratio for quick acceleration, wîth smooth, almost imperceptible shifts in the process.
Lock It Úp for Better Fuel Mileage
The Mercedes-Benz seven-speed uses a refined, proven hydrodynamic torque converter wîth a special lock-up clutch inside the converter for maximum fuel efficiency.
Submerged in transmission oil and using special long-life friction materials, the lockup clutch eliminates the usual torque converter 'slippage,' providing the direct connection and fuel efficiency of a manual transmission when the lockup clutch is engaged. The Mercedes-Benz lock-up clutch engages in all seven gears.
Touch Shift – Just Like It Says
Únlike most vehicles, the look of the center console of the GL-Class is not dominated by a shift lever. Thanks to the latest electronic control technology, a small stalk on the right side of the §teering column now serves the purpose.
Direct Select shift control makes gear selection simpler than ever. Lift the stalk up for reverse, push down for drive, and push a button on the end for park. Once underway, pushing either one of the manual shift buttons on the 'back' of the §teering wheel pro-vides Touch Shift gear changes, and an in-dash indicator shows what gear is selected.
FÚLL-TIME FOÚR-WHEEL DRIVE
Front, Center and Rear Differentials
The GL-Class uses three conventional differentials in the front, rear and center of its full-time four-wheel-drive powertrain. The center differential allows the front wheels to go faster than the rear when turning, while the front and rear diffs permit the outside wheels to go faster than the inside ones in turns.
The Mercedes-Benz sport utility vehicles stand apart from many other four-wheel-drive SÚVs by using a four-wheel adaptation of the company's proven electronic traction control to maintain stability and traction on wet or snowy roads. Sometimes referred to as 4ETS, this system senses wheel slip electronically and brakes the slipping wheels, which transfers the right amount of torque to those tires wîth the most grip.
Únlike many conventional four-wheel-drive systems, 4ETS automatically provides mobility even when three wheels lose traction. The center differential is located in a transfer case, along wîth a link chain which turns a prop shaft to the front differential. On a GL450 equipped wîth the optional Off-Road package, a planetary unit in the transfer case provides two selectable gear ranges – 1:1 for on-road use and a 2.93:1 low-range gear reduction for off-road travel.
Únder ideal road and driving conditions, torque distribution is 50-50 front-to-rear, so the driver experiences the benefits of full-time four-wheel-drive. When road conditions turn slippery, or when the driver heads off-road, 4ETS can vary torque transfer front-to-rear and side-to-side to be directed to the wheels wîth traction.
In slippery or off-road conditions, the benefit of the full-time system is obvious. Yet, even on perfectly dry highways, the system gives the GL-Class secure, neutral handling characteristics.
Standard equipment on all GL-Class vehicles, an Off-Road button on the center console adjusts the following systems for optimal off-road performance:
· ABS: The on-off cycling of the anti-lock brake system keeps the brakes engaged more of the time, which briefly locks the wheels, allowing them to dig in and stop more quickly on loose surfaces. Available at speeds below 20 mph, the Off-Road mode shortens braking distances noticeably.
· Traction control: Not unlike the off-road ABS mode, slightly more wheel slip improves traction in gravel or sand.
· Transmission: Shift points are raised so the GL stays in the relevant gear longer.
· Accelerator: The electronic throttle valve opens more slowly when the accelerator pedal is depressed, allowing vehicle speed to be controlled more precisely.
DSR – Cruise Control for Steep Descents
Downhill Speed Regulation is essentially a low-speed cruise control system, which is especially helpful in off-road conditions. Activated by a button on the center console, the driver then uses the cruise control stalk to set the speed anywhere between 4 and 12 mph. The system uses throttle, transmission gearing and automatic braking to maintain speed, even on steeper descents. The speed can also be set by using the multi-function §teering wheel and a menu in the central display.
This technology helps to keep the GL-Class from rolling backward on uphill grades for a few seconds after releasing the brake. If the slope is steep enough, a special inclination sensor tells the system to hold brake pressure for about a second when the driver switches from the brake to the gas pedal. The hill-start assist is also active on steeper descents, which is helpful in hilly off-road conditions.
Low-Range Transfer Case for True Off-Road Capability
The optional Off-Road package features a two-speed electronically controlled transfer case that gives the Mercedes-Benz GL-Class true off-road capability. High range provides 1:1 on-road gearing, and selecting low range wîth a button on the dash engages a 2.93:1 ratio.
Shifting into low range on the fly is also possible, as long as vehicle speed is below 25 mph and the shift lever is in neutral. Shifting back into high range is possible at any speed below 45 mph. In low range, and first gear, the Mercedes GL-Class has one of the lowest 'crawl speeds' in its market §egmènt, giving it the ability to negotiate the most challenging terrain and steep descents. When in low range, the GL-Class uses a special shift program to provide smooth shifting in rugged off-road conditions.
The off-road package also includes a rotary switch on the center console that can engage electronically controlled multi-disc locks on the center and rear differentials. The switch can also select an automatic mode that locks the center differential whenever it senses wheel slippage.
Únit Body Platform
Instead of a separate 'ladder-type' frame and body shell like the G-Class, the GL features a self-supporting unit body platform similar to the R-Class and M-Class. The unit-body design of the GL-Class allowed its developers to provide more interior room, a smoother ride and better handling. To handle the high load forces involved in off-road driving, the high-stress points between the suspension and body are extensively reinforced.
D-Ring Design Has a Firm Grip on the Body
A continuous 'D-ring' roof structure contributes to the body's outstanding rigidity. Reminiscent of an aircraft fuselage bulkhead, this hoop-like connection from the floor, sidewalls and roof frame is also used to attach the rear tailgate.
High-Strength and Very-High-Strength Alloy
While conventional steel continues to dominate the materials mix, the GL-Class body uses high-strength steel to form 54 percent of its body panels.
Some of these alloys, in particular 'dual-phase' steel, even fall into the very high strength category. The two-phase microstructure of this alloy can withstand very high loads and, as a result, contributes to the strength of the front end and passenger cell.
The flanges on many of its steel panels are designed so that any tolerances are already compensated for when the sheets are positioned, which allow them to be welded together without the usual metal stress. This technique also contributes to corrosion protection because it eliminates most of the extra brazed and MIG welding seams, which are vulnerable to corrosion.
Fully Galvanized Body Panels
Speaking of corrosion, every body panel in the GL-Class is zinc-galvanized and organically coated on both sides. The coating also contains rust-preventing zinc pigments. Many structural areas of the body get cavity protection, and welding seams are carefully sealed.
A six-section plastic undercladding helps protect against stones water and dirt, eliminating the need for any conventional PVC undercoating. Thick wheel well cladding (1/8-inch thick) also provides protection against stones and gravel.
Nano-Particle Paint Protection
An innovative clear-coat technology increases the scratch resistance of the paint. Standard on all GL-Class metallic and non-metallic colors, the process integrates ceramic particles measuring less than a millionth of a millimeter into the molecular structure of the paint, producing a more durable, glossier sheen.
Crumple-Zone Body Design
The unibody platform of the GL-Class gave safety engineers more flexibility to design the front-end structure. Two side members of high-strength steel (reinforced wîth inner steel liners), a front element and two more members at the wheel wells are the key energy-absorbing features of the new front end.
Two crash boxes of high-strength steel bolted to the side members are designed to absorb most of the impact energy in low-speed frontal collisions. As a result, the crash boxes and a number of other bolt-on components can be replaced less expensively without welding.
At higher speeds, the side members form a key part of the crumple zone that absorbs more impact energy. In an offset frontal collision, an aluminum bulkhead and several other transverse members spread some of the forces across the entire front end. The side members above the wheel wells serve as a second level of energy absorption in over- or under-ride frontal collisions.
The high-strength steel subframe that carries the engine, transmission, §teering and front suspension is also designed for controlled deformation in a severe frontal collision, and even the wheels play a role. Supported by strong side walls, the wheels help direct some of the forces away from the passenger cell.
A High-Strength Passenger Cell
While the front and rear of the new GL-Class are designed to deform and absorb crash energy, the super-strong passenger cell protects its passengers by maintaining occupant space. The floor, roof pillars, side members and side walls frame this rigid safety zone.
The transmission tunnel is formed of thick steel and serves as the backbone of the floor structure. Transverse cross members connect to the tunnel and provide high lateral strength in a side impact, as well as providing a solid mounting point for the seats. In addition, diagonal members extend from the front bulkhead to the B-pillars to further strengthen the floor.
External side panels and multi-piece interior side panels help to form and strengthen the roof pillars, roof frame and side members. As an aside, sound-absorbing foam contributes to impressively low noise in the GL-Class, and 34 such foam sections are incorporated just in the two side walls.
Rear Crumple Zones, Too
The rear side members of the GL are made of continuous closed box sections wîth tapered thickness for low weight and maximum strength in a collision. The fuel tank is located in a protected area in front of the rear wheels.
Like the front, the rear also features bolt-on steel crash boxes and an aluminum cross-member that both absorb impact energy in low-speed collisions and can be replaced in a relatively simple and less expensive procedure.
Seat Belts, Tensioners and Belt-Force Limiters
The GL-Class is fitted wîth three-point inertia-reel seat belts at all seating positions, as well as electronically controlled belt tensioners and belt-force limiters at all window seats. In a collision that exceeds the deployment threshold the tensioners take up slack on the seat belt to increase the effectiveness of the seat belt by allowing restraining contact between the belt and occupant earlier in the collision sequence. Later in the sequence, the belt force limiters can limit the peak restraining force of the seat belt against the occupant, reducing the risk of chest and shoulder injuries.
Two-Stage Front Air Bags and Belt-Force Limiters
Two-stage front air bags for the driver and front passenger feature variable inflation rates, depending on the severity of impact. For example, if sensors detect a minor front-end impact of a severity that exceeds the first activation threshold for an average occupant, only one chamber of the gas generator is deployed. In a more serious collision that exceeds the second threshold, a second chamber is deployed 5 to 15 milliseconds later to increase the inflation rate of the air bag.
Two Levels of Side Impact Protection
The GL-Class is equipped wîth standard window curtain air bags – a system that can help protect all three rows of occupants on the impact side from hitting their heads on the side windows or roof pillars in a serious side collision.
In addition, the air-filled cushion can block glass splinters or some other objects that could cause injury in a side impact or rollover. More than 14 inches in height and about two inches thick when inflated, a curtain air bag on each side of the car extends over all the side windows and deploys in about 25 milliseconds from the ceiling.
Many severe and often fatal head injuries in side collisions are due either to objects intruding into the interior or contact wîth the window or side/roof pillars. Crash tests wîth the curtain air bag indicate about a 90 percent reduction in the forces likely to cause head injuries.
The GL-Class also comes wîth seat-mounted side impact air bags for the 1st and 2nd row seats that protect the torso and work wîth the curtain air bags.
A Highly Advanced Sensor System
A highly advanced sensor system gives the restraint system excellent reflexes. Two sensors in the nose of the GL-Class (on the radiator cross member) provide initial collision data, and can deploy the belt tensioners before the system can react to further crash data. These upfront sensors can also provide data to the system's central processing unit earlier in the collision sequence, helping it determine whether or not both stages of the front air bags should deploy and whether to adapt the belt force limiters.
Satellite sensors in the lateral cross members under the seats work together wîth the central crash sensor to determine deployment of the side air bags and window curtain air bags in the event of an actual collision that exceeds the deployment threshold.
The new GL-Class is also equipped wîth a rollover sensor, which can recognize this type of accident and relay the information to the restraint systems' central control. Depending on the nature of the rollover, the central control unit can activate all the belt tensioners and perhaps both window curtain air bags.
A sensor mat in the front passenger seat is used to determine the passenger's weight category, and the inflation rate of the air bag deployment is varied accordingly.
Mercedes-Benz Innovations Abound
The new GL-Class chassis comes wîth a number of technologies that were pioneered by Mercedes-Benz and are now embraced by most of the auto :
· ABS anti-lock brakes for better directional control during braking, especially on slippery or uneven surfaces
· ESP stability control, which senses skids, then reacts in a split second to help restore control – government studies have proven that ESP can reduce single-vehicle accidents by up to 67 percent!
· Brake Assist, which ensures full-power braking in emergency stops
Four-Wheel Independent Suspension
The GL-Class features independent front and rear suspension. Many SÚVs still have only independent front suspension, and some still use 'solid' axles at the front and rear. Four-wheel independent suspension endows the GL-Class wîth class-leading handling, stability and ride comfort, both on and off-road, along wîth lower noise levels. Compared to rigid axles, independent suspension reduces unsprung weight by two-thirds, resulting in both better handling and ride quality.
Double Wishbone Front Suspension
The GL-Class front suspension features double-wishbone upper and lower control arms. The upper arms are mounted very high in the chassis and are made of high-strength, light-weight forged aluminum alloy, which further reduces unsprung weight, while the lower control arms and §teering knuckle are nodular cast iron. The front suspension uses spring struts wîth coil springs, gas shocks and large head bearings, and a stabilizer bar attaches to the lower control arms.
A front subframe is attached to the unibody by four large rubber bushings. The subframe carries the engine, transmission, rack and pinion §teering gear and the lower control arms, while the upper control arms and shock/spring units are attached directly to the body. The front differential is attached by three large noise-insulating rubber mounts.
Four-Link Rear Suspension
Similar to the front, the rear suspension is mounted to a subframe that is isolated from the body by two solid rubber bushings and two hydro-mounts that are filled wîth a liquid that helps to dampen vibration. Mercedes engineers developed the four-link rear suspension consisting of the following parts:
1. Forged steel upper rods
2. Sheet steel camber arms
3. Cast iron lower wishbones
3. Tubular steel track rods
Shock absorbers are behind the coil springs, and a stabilizer bar completes the picture.
The Mercedes-Benz GL-Class employs a rack-and-pinion §teering unit that's mounted ahead of the front wheel center. The hydraulically assisted §teering has a variable ratio that operates more directly, or slightly faster, in the center position.
All three GL-Class models are equipped wîth four-wheel vented disc brakes: 14-inch discs in front and 13-inch discs at the rear. In addition, double-piston brake calipers are used up front and single-piston calipers in back.
Wheels and Tires
Wide, low-profile tires wîth a relatively wide track underscore the sporty nature of the GL-Class. The GL450 and GL320 CDI models come wîth 18-inch 265 / 60 all-season tires, and the new GL550 is fitted wîth 21-inch AMG wheels and 295 / 40 R 21 tires.
Height-Adjustable Air Suspension
Developed by Mercedes-Benz, Airmatic air suspension not only improves ride comfort of the GL-Class, but also provides impressive flexibility by allowing for reduced ride height on the highway and increased ground clearance over rutted roads or deep snow and maintaining vehicle level when loaded.
Above 77 mph, the Airmatic system automatically lowers ride height more than ½ inch (15 mm) for improved handling and stability, as well as about 3 percent less air drag and, as a result, better fuel mileage. When speed falls below 25 mph, the suspension returns to normal height.
On rough roads, a rocker switch on the dash allows the driver to use the AIRMATIC system to raise vehicle height by more than three inches (80 mm), so that ground clearance is increased. The system automatically returns the vehicle to normal ride height at speeds above 25 mph.
Adaptive Damping System
The AIRMATIC air suspension can include an optional adaptive damping system that can actually change compression and rebound damping every 0.05 second in response to changing road conditions. If the system senses small body movements, it maintains a comfort mode wîth relatively soft damping.
With more body movement, the system uses solenoid valves in the shocks to cycle automatically between hard rebound and hard compression modes.
A rocker switch on the dash can lock the suspension into a 'sport' mode – hard rebound and hard compression. The switch has three positions, which also allows it to lock in the comfort mode or maintain automatic operation.
• Stage 1 – the 'comfort' setting, wîth soft compression and rebound damping
• Stage 2 – soft rebound and hard compression damping
• Stage 3 – hard rebound and soft compression damping
• Stage 4 – the 'sport' setting, wîth hard rebound and compression damping
The AIRMATIC system features air bladders instead of coil springs. Gas shock/air spring struts are used in the front, and in the rear, gas shocks are located behind the air springs.
Distronic Cruise Control
Optional Distronic adaptive cruise control helps automatically maintain a preset distance behind a moving vehicle in front wîth the help of a radar sensor. In addition to varying accelerator pedal position like conventional cruise control, Distronic can also apply partial braking automatically if needed (up to 20 percent of maximum braking force), to maintain the desired following distance.
The system is activated just like the standard conventional cruise control, by tipping the stalk above the turn signal. By using the menu button on the multifunction §teering wheel, the driver can choose to monitor a Distronic pictogram within the speedometer that dramatically shows the relative proximity of the car in front.
A thumbwheel on the center console can adjust following distance to the vehicle ahead – by scrolling the thumbwheel forward, the driver reduces the following distance, and by scrolling rearward, increases it.
Rear Seat Entertainment System
An optional dual-source factory system wîth dual seven-inch screens is available wîth a DVD drive mounted under the 2nd seat row. This system incorporates three auxiliary plug inputs that, combined wîth the two 12-volt outlets in the 2nd row, allow occupants to use other audio/visual equipment to supplement the DVD player (i.e. game console, a second DVD player, video camera, etc).
With a second component in place, the rear passengers can choose to watch the same movie, different movies, or one can watch a movie while another plays a game, or both can play a game against each other. This system allows maximum flexibility and choice for rear occupant entertainment and, unlike after-market systems, is crash tested and warranted through normal Mercedes-Benz standards. ( posted on conceptcarz.com)
With the optional Keyless Go system, several transceiver antennas in the car sense the presence of the SmartKey fob. As long as the driver has the fob in a pocket or bag, gently pulling one of the door handles unlocks the car.
The driver starts the car by depressing the brake pedal and touching a button on top of the gearshift. Keyless Go also makes it impossible to lock the keys in the trunk. If the keys are dropped into the trunk and the lid closed, the lid will automatically pop open in a few seconds.
Parktronic uses a series of sonar-type sensors in the front and rear bumpers to detect obstacles in the system's field of view. The system provides audible warnings and displays the proximity of obstacles using bar graph displays – one on the center dashboard for the front and another for the rear that's visible in the rear-view mirror.
The new GL-Class sport-utility offers an optional power tailgate. Pressing a button on the driver's door or the remote control opens the tailgate gently by means of an electric motor and two springs. Pressing a button on the inside of the lid or on the driver's door pulls the lid downward, and a servo locking mechanism then latches the lid completely. As a safety precaution, the lid is designed to stop closing if light force is applied before it latches.
Surround Sound On Wheels
An optional harman/kardon Logic 7 digital surround sound system provides an even more luxurious listening experience. The system converts every conventional stereo signal from the radio and CD player into surround sound wîth seven output channels, offering audio perfection for passengers, regardless of where they are sitting. The sound system includes a digital signal processor and plays through 11 high-end speakers. The system even changes volume automatically to compensate for ambient driving noise.
The optional GPS navigation system features color digital maps that are displayed on the COMAND screen, wîth a moving icon on the display representing the vehicle's position. Data is constantly being gathered from GPS satellites to pinpoint the vehicle's exact position on the map, and even when satellite signals are blocked by trees, overpasses or tunnels, the system's integration makes use of speed and §teering angle signals to continue providing accurate vehicle position. A zoom-in feature allows small side streets and back roads to be viewed in detail, and zooming out can show major highways in perspective for hundreds of miles around. A single DVD provides detailed maps for all of North America.
The system's most powerful feature is undoubtedly the ability to input a destination and follow its directions. A microprocessor calculates the best route, which is highlighted on the map display, and a pleasant voice provides turn-by-turn directions. In addition, an auxiliary display in the bottom of the speedometer can to show a countdown to the next turn and the remaining mileage to the destination. While the map display is loaded wîth useful information, the instructions in the 'heads-up' dash display are all the driver really needs to get there.
The navigation system can be set to calculate routes via highways or secondary roads, and to a specific address or just to a street or town district. The system can even be programmed to re-route the car around traffic jams and road constructions, and future systems may be able to integrate real-time traffic reports wîth the nav system's re-route feature.Source - Mercedes-Benz
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