Mercedes has unveiled its second hybrid model at the New York show, the Mercedes ML450 Hybrid.
The Lexus LX450h challenging Mercedes ML450 Hybrid is scheduled to go on sale throughout North America this autumn, and will join the Mercedes S400 Hybrid, which goes on sale as part of a revised S-class range.
At this stage, there are no plans to offer the hybrid M-class or S-class for sale in the UK (with insiders citing problems with engineering them for right-hand drive), although officials suggest that behind-the-scenes efforts are underway to provide a UK-market version of the SUV, possibly using a diesel engine as its base.
The Mercedes ML450 Hybrid uses a different hybrid set-up to the S400 Hybrid. The so-called two mode system was developed in partnership with BMW and General Motors and is capable of propelling the ML450 Hybrid in two distinct modes, depending on the driving conditions.
At low speeds around town and when manoeuvring, the ML450 Hybrid uses an electric motor with 92bhp and 192lb ft mounted at the rear of the gearbox as the sole source of propulsion.
Under hard acceleration and at higher speeds during cruising a second electric motor with 84bhp and 174lb ft, mounted at the front of the gearbox, springs to life in combination with a 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine boasting 172bhp and 259lb ft to provide added performance.
Electricity is supplied by a 288 volt nickel metal hydride battery pack mounted in a specially designed cradle in the floor of the boot – a development which represents a further departure from the S400 Hybrid, which uses a much smaller lithium ion battery sited underneath the bonnet.
Weighing 83kg in all, the ML450 Hybrid’s battery collects energy created under braking for an overall capacity of 2.4 kW/h. Channelling drive to all four wheels is an electrically operated CVT with three planetary gear sets and four clutches. Drivers can choose between economy and sport modes.
Mercedes claims 0-62mph in 7.8sec for the ML450 Hybrid, along with a 131mph top speed. Fuel economy is expected to be around 26.5mpg, good enough to provide a theoretical range of over 500 miles.
The ML450 Hybrid is differentiated from other M-class models by a subtle bonnet bulge, together with ML450 Hybrid badges.
Mercedes claims there are no compromises in packaging; both interior accommodation and luggage capacity remain the same as standard versions of the ML.
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