New Mercedes-Benz M-Class - In Depth  

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Interior: More space and even more comfort

  • Variable interior with a load capacity of up to 2050 litres

  • EASY-PACK for convenient and safe load compartment management

  • THERMATIC as standard, Multi-Zone THERMOTRONIC optional

Aesthetics and ergonomics - these are two of the most important aims guiding Mercedes designers and engineers when they create a new vehicle interior. The new M-Class reaffirms the high standards of the company where these disciplines are concerned: with pleasing contours, high-quality materials, attractive colour combinations and an unmistakable attention to detail, the designer team has created an appealing vehicle which captivates at first sight and invites one to climb in.

The fact that this first sensual impression is not disappointed is due to a new, intelligent dimensional concept which brings comfort and ergonomics to a new, higher level. In other words, the occupants immediately feel comfortable, protected and safe. The spaciousness, freedom of movement, seating position and operating convenience already make a promise that the new M-Class keeps for mile after mile: the perfect driving experience.

The basic parameters that allow a harmonious interaction between man and machine are the interior dimensions that determine the spatial comfort of the occupants: the distance between the seats, knee room, elbow room and shoulder room. In these respects the new M-Class has literally gone up in size compared to the preceding series:

  • The distance between the front and rear seats – an indicator of the passengers' freedom of movement – has increased by 15 mm to 880 millimetres, the level encountered in the luxury class.

  • Thanks to the longer wheelbase, the knee room for passengers in the rear has increased by 35 millimetres.

  • The elbow room for front-seat occupants has increased by 30 millimetres, the shoulder room by four millimetres.

  • The elbow room in the rear is now 1520 millimetres, 32 millimetres more than in the preceding series. The rear shoulder room has increased by 13 millimetres.

Key interior dimensions at a glance and compared with outgoing model:

New M-Class Preceding model
Distance between seats (SRP)
between front and rear seat
880 mm 865 mm
Rear kneeroom 127 mm 92 mm
Headroom front
1015 mm
1013 mm
1010 mm
1008 mm
Shoulder-room front
1482 mm
1481 mm
1478 mm
1468 mm
Elbow-room front
1523 mm
1520 mm
1493 mm
1488 mm

Front seats electrically adjustable for height, inclination and backrest angle

When planning the dimensional concept of the interior, Mercedes engineers took care to ensure that both male and female drivers of any body size would benefit from an ergonomically favourable seating and driving position. Accordingly the seats have an overall fore/aft adjustment range of 340 millimetres and a height adjustment range of 90 millimetres, and the steering wheel is also individually adjustable. The driver is able to adjust the steering wheel height by 25 millimetres in each direction, and adjust the reach by moving the steering column forward by 25 millimetres or pulling it out by 35 millimetres.

Electric motors help the front seat occupants find the most comfortable position: the seat height and the angle of the seat cushion and backrest are electrically adjustable as standard. Only the fore/aft adjustment is by mechanical means. A fully electric adjustment function for the seats, head restraints and steering wheel – also with a memory function – is available as an option.

Seating comfort is provided by foam cushions with precisely calculated zones of varying hardness: the foam material is of a harder consistency in the raised seat bolsters to give the driver and front passenger more lateral support on bends, while the softer configuration of the seat cushions ensures an even distribution of pressure and therefore a high level of comfort. The foam sections are held in seat cushion trays which are in turn suspended on steel springs. The backrests consist of a robust sheet steel frame with tensioned spring elements which support the foam sections. A manually adjustable lumbar support is integrated into the backrest of the driver’s seat. Both front seat backrests are equipped with sidebags as standard, which deploy in the event of a lateral collision and supplement the protective effect of the windowbags, which are likewise standard.

Fully-folding rear seats with a 60 : 40 split

The rear seat cushions are also based on the latest plastics technology, and offer considerably more comfort than the preceding series thanks to thick foam padding on the seating surface. There are three height-adjustable head restraints and three inertia-reel seat belts with belt buckle tensioners and belt force limiters to ensure the safety of the occupants. Sidebags can be integrated into the rear-seat backrests as an option.

The rear seats in the new M-Class have a 60 : 40 split; the wider section is on the left side and incorporates a folding armrest with a stowage compartment and cup holder. The rear seats can be folded forward very easily: the seat cushions are first individually or jointly pivoted forward to a vertical position behind the front seats. The backrests are then folded forward together with the head restraints: these do not need to be removed. In conjunction with the EASY-PACK system both seat cushions are removable as an option, extending the level loading floor from 1710 to 1905 millimetres.

With the rear seats in their normal position the load compartment is 1063 millimetres in length and 1027 millimetres in width. This provides enough space for a pram, or at least six crates of bottled drinks or two large golf bags. Those requiring more space for luggage or recreational equipment have many ways of adapting the interior of the new M-Class to the transport task in hand. Here is a brief summary:

Position in the rear Load comp. dimensions
(L x W)
Load capacity*
(in litres)
3 seats 1063 x 1027 mm 551 litres if loaded to upper edge of rear seatback
833 litres if loaded to roof level
No seats, rear seat cushion folded up, rear seatbacks folded forward 1710 x 1027 mm 1051 litres if loaded to upper edge of driver’s seatback
1830 litres if loaded to roof level
No seats, rear seat cushion removed (optional), rear seatbacks folded forward 1905 x 1027 mm 1252 litres if loaded to upper edge of driver’s seatback
2050 litres
if loaded to roof level

*Acc. to VDA measuring method including stowage space under load compartment floor (48 litres) and in left side panel of load compartment (6 litres)

The largest cuboid that can be accommodated in the rear of the new M-Class has a volume of 1056 litres. If the front passenger seat is moved to its most forward position, the load compartment length is increased to a maximum of 2100 millimetres. Six chrome lashing rings for securing the cargo are standard equipment in the Mercedes Off-Roader.

Easier, more convenient loading with EASY-PACK

The well-proven EASY-PACK system (optional) by Mercedes-Benz makes it easier and more convenient to load and unload the new M-Class. This includes a hydraulically powered tailgate which is opened or closed by pressing a button in the driver’s door, or by remote control. The optional load compartment cover with an integral safety net is also part of the new EASY-PACK system.

In addition, Mercedes-Benz has developed numerous components which allow the secure stowage of large and small items in the load compartment, and reliably prevent luggage, shopping bags or other objects from sliding around when the vehicle is on the move. The EASY-PACK load-securing kit is based on aluminium rails on both sides of the load compartment floor, to which a telescopic rod can be attached on special mounting bases to create a crossways or diagonal division and/or a load lashing belt with a width of 95 millimetres and a length of 1000 millimetres can be anchored.

Multifunction steering wheel and two-section central display in the cockpit

The new multifunction steering wheel with operating buttons and the attractively contoured instrument cluster with its central display are the most important components of a modern operating and display concept which both informs and assists the driver.

With help of the standard-fitted multifunction steering wheel, the driver is able to operate the radio and car telephone by thumb pressure or access important information which appears in the central display of the instrument cluster. In addition, more than 50 individual settings can be programmed at rest in this convenient manner – from a digital km/h display to automatic door locking and the speed limit for winter tyres. Once selected, these functions are constantly active and require no buttons to be pressed or any other manual intervention.

The attractive and clearly arranged instrument cluster with chrome-embellished dial instruments for the speedometer and clock (left) and the rev counter and fuel gauge (right) keeps the driver informed about the most important vehicle functions. The different red and yellow indicator lamps are distributed over the surfaces of the two dial instruments, but only come to the driver’s attention when the engine is started or when they are needed. The central display is located between the two cylinders of the dial instruments. Its upper section shows the information and displays selected using the multifunction steering wheel, while depending on the individual settings, the lower section shows the outside temperature or vehicle speed, the position of the automatic gearshift and the current gear.

The interior door panels also form part of the operating concept. This is where Mercedes engineers have positioned the switches for the standard-fitted power windows, exterior mirror adjustment and remote control tailgate (driver’s door).

The layout of the units and controls in the centre console is according to ergonomic principles, with priority given to the importance of the relevant functions, the frequency of use and visual considerations. This means that depending on the level of equipment, the radio or navigation system is in the most easily visible and accessible position. This is followed by the control panel for the standard THERMATIC automatic climate control system or the optional Multi-Zone THERMOTRONIC system, which features well-positioned and attractive rotary controls for manual temperature selection (right). The lower end of the centre console is occupied by switch panels with buttons for off-road functions, Downhill Speed Regulation and the hazard warning lights, as well as for optional features such as heated seats, differential locks and the low-range function.

Thanks to the innovative DIRECT SELECT gearshift on the steering column, which makes it possible to dispense with a conventional automatic selector lever, the tunnel covering in the M-Class has sufficient room for a spacious stowage compartment and a cup holder. Both are concealed by lids which pivot upwards slowly at the touch of a finger. There is also a spacious stowage compartment in the padded armrest between the front seats, and its upper section will accommodate a mobile telephone. The rear end of the tunnel cladding takes the form of two separately adjustable ventilation outlets for the rear.

Sophisticated interior lighting concept

To ensure that the occupants of the M-Class feel just as at home at night as during daylight hours, Mercedes engineers have developed a sophisticated lighting concept for the interior. This not only includes indirect illumination of all the major switches and controls in the centre console, but also reading lights for the driver, front passenger and rear seat occupants as well as lights in the front footwells which, like the other interior lights, automatically dim when the doors are closed. Ambient lighting in the exterior mirror housings and courtesy lights in the doors ensure that passengers are able to enter and leave the vehicle safely in the hours of darkness.

Mercedes customers are able to shed even more light on things with the interior lighting package. This optional item supplements the standard interior lighting with illuminated door handle recesses, footwell lights in the rear and ambient lighting in the tailgate. The stowage compartment and cup holder in the centre console are also illuminated.

THERMATIC automatic climate control as standard

The standard THERMATIC system ensures a high level of climatic comfort. In "Auto" mode this automatic climate control system varies the blower speed depending on the individual temperature selection and automatically controls the proportion of recirculated air at high ambient temperatures to cool the interior more rapidly. The driver and front passenger are able to select their preferred temperature individually by means of attractively styled rotary controls. Red LEDs display the selected values. Buttons for ventilation of the rear and residual engine heat utilisation are integrated into the control panel on the right. In the centre between the control units there are buttons for manual adjustment of the blower speed, the defroster function, the heated rear window, air recirculation and airflow distribution.

Efficient ventilation of the interior is assured by a total of eleven ventilation outlets in the instrument panel, footwells and tunnel cladding. In addition to the large defrosting vent aimed at the windscreen the instrument panel features four prominent circular vents which can be individually adjusted by the driver and front passenger; these can be swivelled and the airflow can be variably controlled by a selector wheel. Passengers in the rear have a central floor-level vent for the footwells and two swivelling, adjustable vents in the tunnel covering.

The tunnel function, as it is known, is a further special feature: if the driver presses the air recirculation button down for a longer period (approx. two to three seconds), this not only closes the air recirculation flap in the air conditioner but also any open windows and the sliding roof. If the button is depressed again they return to the previous position. Mercedes-Benz equips the CDI models in the new M-Class with an additional PTC heating element. This is located behind the heater heat-exchanger for the air conditioning system and switches on as required – depending on the ambient temperature – to warm the interior quickly after starting the engine.

Multi-zone THERMOTRONIC with a booster fan for the rear

With the multi-zone THERMOTRONIC system (optional, standard in the ML 500) the new M-Class again achieves a level of climatic comfort on a par with the quality experienced in a luxury saloon. This automatic climate control system supplements the standard THERMATIC with additional functions which mainly benefit passengers in the rear:

  • A booster fan in the tunnel covering enables the airflow to the rear to be independently adjusted.

  • The temperature and air volume for the rear can be individually adjusted by means of a separate control unit in the tunnel covering, allowing efficient multi-zone climate control.

  • The system also automatically controls the air distribution for the driver and front-passenger sides as well as for the rear.

Sensors supply the THERMATIC microprocessor with current data for the interior and ambient temperatures, the position of the sun and the level of humidity. In conjunction with an infinitely adjustable refrigerant compressor, the dew-point sensor measuring the moisture level enables the automatic climate control system to be precisely and economically controlled as required. An activated charcoal fil-ter absorbs airborne pollutants and prevents odours from disturbing the vehicle occupants. If the carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxide concentration in the incom-ing air exceeds a certain value, the air conditioner automatically switches over to air recirculation mode thanks to a special pollution sensor.

The control panel for multi-zone THERMOTRONIC uses a display to show the temperatures which the driver and front passenger are able to select using the ergonomically designed rotary controls, as well as the current blower speed. The "Mono" button in the left-hand control makes it possible to synchronise the settings for the driver and front-passenger sides as well as for the rear, and to transfer the temperature selection to the left-hand rotary control.

Choice of two navigation systems

Top entertainment and outstanding acoustic pleasure are also catered for on board the new M-Class. In standard trim the Off-Roader leaves the assembly line equipped with the Audio 20 car radio, which has FM, MW, LW and SW reception and an integral CD player. Excellent operating convenience is assured in conjunction with the likewise standard multifunction steering wheel: without taking his hands from the wheel, the driver is able to adjust the volume, for example, or activate the station search function to select a different radio station. The unit also features a keypad which enables telephone numbers to be entered if it is networked with a car phone or mobile phone.

Mercedes-Benz offers an optional high-performance system with an integral twin-tuner FM receiver, a CD player and a directional arrow navigation system with dynamic route guidance based on RDS-TMC in the form of the Audio 50 APS. The unit features a 4.9-inch graphic TFT colour display. The navigation CD contains the road networks of the major European countries, and the integral CD player is able to play music CDs during the route guidance process. The other radio and operating functions are identical to those of the Audio 20 unit.

COMAND APS with off-road programme

The top-of-the-line audio system is COMAND APS (optional), which combines a radio, navigation system and CD player. The centrepiece of this unit is a large colour display (6.5") in the latest TFT technology, with an excellent resolution and colour reproduction. A navigation DVD is provided which contains the European road network and tourist attractions. Route guidance is by means of a colour map in the COMAND display, directional arrows in the central display of the instrument cluster and verbal information. After route calculation the navigation DVD can be removed and the system used to play music CDs. In this case the navigation system operates with directional arrows. For radio reception the unit is equipped with an FM/RDS twin tuner, and will also receive long, medium and short-wave programmes.

In the M-Class, COMAND APS includes a special off-road menu with helpful information for drivers travelling off the beaten track: the current course with a compass function, the altitude and the steering-wheel angle.

All the Mercedes radios available for the new M-Class feature a speed-dependent volume control function: from approx. 20 km/h the volume is gradually increased to suit the relevant driving situation. An aerial diversity function, which ensures the best possible reception by switching between the roof aerial and two FM aerials in the rear window, is also standard equipment with the Audio 20, Audio 50 APS and COMAND APS units.

Surround sound from eleven loudspeakers and a sub-woofer

Eight loudspeakers are connected to the Mercedes audio systems as standard. An even more sophisticated set is available as an option: a surround sound system with eleven loudspeakers and an additional sub-woofer. This system is precisely configured for the acoustic conditions in the interior of the Off-Roader: a microphone registers the prevailing background noise so that the microprocessor is able to adjust the volume and tone precisely, thereby ensuring consistent listening enjoyment.

As a further option in conjunction with the Audio 20, Audio 50 APS and COMAND APS units, a 6-disc CD changer is available which is housed in the glove compartment. The CD changer is also MP3-compatible.

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