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No spare change!

Spare us: A prototype of the full-size rear-mounted spare wheel that will be available as an accessory for the new M-class.

M-class design ditches a spare wheel - but BenzAustralia gets one in

12 Sep 2005

AUSTRALIA has become the sole market in the world with a spare wheel fitted standard to Mercedes-Benz’s new-generation M-class 4WD after local management won a battle to have it included.

"We have been successful in making a fully inflated spare tyre (standard), however not 17-inch or 18-inch in width," said the managing director of Mercedes-Benz Passenger Cars in Australia, Horst von Sanden, at the vehicle’s launch in Tasmania last week.

"The fully-inflated spare tyre is an exception for our market."This was the result of constant lobbying by the Australian outfit during the new M-class’s development and was achieved in the face of DaimlerChrysler’s policy decision favouring the elimination of spare wheels altogether.

As was the case with the outgoing model, a space-saver spare wheel will be fitted to the vehicle.

The move away from spare wheels is consistent with the direction other German car-makers, such as BMW and Porsche, are taking.

For example, various models in BMW’s current line-up, such as the new 3 Series, the 1 Series and the Z4 convertible, have no spare – although the X5 and X3 and Porsche’s Cayenne are fitted with one.

Mercedes-Benz still came in for criticism at last week’s media launch, based on the perception that large 4WDs are more likely than regular passenger cars to suffer punctures in remote locations.

The 80km/h speed maximum and the restricted range of space-saver spares have the potential to strand drivers caught too far from an accredited service centre.



4 center imageThis vulnerability was underlined during the launch drive when two vehicles suffered punctures after driving on dirt roads in central Tasmania.

According to Mercedes-Benz spokesman Toni Andreevski, the M-class’s space-saver spare, though not ideal in all circumstances, would not be a problem for the majority of owners.

He claimed the space-saver used in the previous M-class proved satisfactory for most owners, and recommended more serious off-road drivers should carry full-size spare wheels.

"To be really serious, it’s necessary to carry two full-size spare tyres" Mr Andreevski said.

The Australian Mercedes-Benz operation is also overseeing the development of an aftermarket full-size spare tyre carrier to address more demanding applications.

"Our local accessories team is working on external solutions for the transportation of a full-size spare which can be fitted as an aftermarket accessory for the small number of customers who require it," Mr Andreevski said.

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