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Future models - Mercedes-Benz - GL-Class

Benz plans a royal flush of 2006 models

Bonanza: GL-class will be one of three new models from Benz in 2006.

Mercedes shows its 2006 hand - three all-new models and a plethora of AMG cars

17 Feb 2006

IT MAY have been all quiet on the Mercedes-Benz front since the new B-class compact people-mover was launched in November, but an almost constant procession of all-new models, major facelifts, minor updates and engine upgrades will see an unprecedented level of new-model activity from the three-pointed star in 2006.

The launch of the redesigned W221 S-class kicks off the action this month before S350 and S500 stocks arrive in April (see separate story), while the S600L will be released in June, ahead of two bristling new AMG versions.

For the new Benz flagship, that leaves only an entry-level V8 variant to sit below Benz’s larger new 5.5-litre V8 and the S320CDI turbo-diesel, which should carry a similar $187,900 entry-level pricetag to the S350, along with performance figures of 173kW and 540Nm.

But do not expect either the small V8 or diesel-powered S-class to go on sale here inside 12 months.

The first W221 AMG will be a replacement for the blistering S65L AMG flagship, to be powered by the same 450kW/1000Nm (detuned) version of the Maybach’s 6.0-litre twin-turbo V12.

Also on the S-class cards is the S63 AMG, which will replace the S55K AMG and is powered by the same 375kW/630Nm 6.2-litre V8 that propels the ML63 AMG in which it debuted.

Designed to knock off the 5.0-litre V10 found in BMW’s M5/M6, the naturally aspirated bent-eight will eventually replace the supercharged 5.4 V8 in all AMG models.

The Benz powerhouse is also believed to be working on an even more ballistic 7.3-litre version, but the storming 420 CDI V8 turbo-diesel version of S-class, ML-class or even the E-class will not be seen locally until Australian diesel regulations ensure our fuel is clean enough.

The same 6.3-litre AMG V8 is expected to power a facelifted E-class sedan/wagon later this year and, eventually, the CLK-class coupe/convertible, with both the E55 and the recently facelifted CLK55 expected to be replaced by the E63 and CLK63 AMGs.

The four-door CLS "coupe" model also gains the new AMG V8, with CLS55 set to become CLS63 AMG in late 2006.

4 center imageMeantime, the E-class, which is already powered by the 3.5-litre V6 E350 (with seven-speed auto), will be improved via a new grille, interior trim and steering wheels later this year – its first cosmetic change since launching here in August 2002.

Before that, however, Mercedes’ flagship convertible, the SL, will also come in for a tweak around mid-year, when it becomes the last passenger Benz model to shed the 3.7-litre V6 for the newer four-valve 200kW 3.5-litre version.

Mercedes’ all-new R-class six-seater peoplemover arrives in May, brandishing short and long-wheelbase plus 165kW/510Nm diesel, 200kW petrol V6 and 225kW V8 firepower in the R320 CDI, R350 and R500 respectively.

All will offer rear air suspension, all-wheel drive, stability control, a seven-speed auto and a starting price of under $85,000.

While there will be no AMG-fettled versions of the new A-class or B-class (partly because neither model is sold in the US), compensation comes in the form of a diesel-powered B-class and the stonking new ML63 AMG, which both arrive mid-year.

Benz’s other all-new release for 2006 is the spiritual successor to the legendary G-wagen, the ML-based GL-class seven-seater. Set to debut at the October Sydney motor show, GL-class will echo the R-class line-up by comprising the GL320 CDI, GL350 and GL500.

Further afield, an all-new C-class is set to surface globally next year, with wagon (Estate) and hatch (Sports Coupe) body styles to follow in 2008 – with the current C55 AMG sedan likely to be replaced by the C63 AMG.

From this all-new platform, Mercedes-Benz will also produce a redesigned CLK coupe/convertible and, for the first time, a compact 4WD to rival BMW’s X3, dubbed X-class.

Formerly known as MLK, expect it to feature all-wheel drive, similar engines and a starting price of around $70,000.

Also expect 63 AMG versions of the R-class, SLK-class and even GL-class to appear eventually in Australia, the world’s fifth-largest AMG market.

What's coming from Mercedes-Benz:

S500L - March 2006
S350 - April 2006
R320CDI/R350/R500 - May 2006
S600L - June 2006
B-class diesel - Mid-2006
SL-class facelift - Mid-2006
ML63 AMG - Mid-2006
E-class facelift - October 2006
GL320CDI/GL350/GL500 - October 2006
E63 AMG - Late 2006
CLS63 AMG - Late 2006
CLK63 AMG - Late 2006
S65L AMG - Late 2006
S450 V8 - 2007
S320CDI - 2007
S63L AMG - Late 2007
W203 C-class sedan - Late 2007
S203 C-class Estate - 2008
X-class 4WD - 2008
W212 E-class sedan - 2008
S212 E-class Estate - 2009

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