New Mercedes goes back to steering-column shifter

May 5, 2005
Don't bother looking for a shift lever on the console of Mercedes' new R-Class luxury vehicle: Thanks to the latest in technology, a small stalk on the side of the steering column does the job.

Mercedes' new R-Class combines the versatility of a SUV, the performance of a sports sedan, and the comfort of a luxury wagon.

Shifting the seven-speed automatic will be simpler than ever, the company says, just lift the stalk up for reverse, push down for drive, and push a button on the end for park. And pushing one of the shift buttons on either side of the steering wheel lets the driver change gears manually.

The new Mercedes-Benz RE class from DaimlerChrysler is touted as combining the surefootedness of a four-wheel-drive sport-utility vehicle, the performance and comfort of a fine sports sedan, and the versatility of a luxury wagon. When the R-Class goes on sale in the U.S. later this year, pricing will start at under $50,000. The R350 is powered by a 3.5-liter 268-hp V6, and the R500 comes with a 5.0-liter V8 producing 302 hp.

All models come with a seven-speed automatic transmission and full-time 4Matic fourwheel drive. Among the options is a panoramic sunroof with nearly 5 ft of glass. The R-Class has space for six adults — three pairs of single seats — and is about 5 in. longer than the Cadillac Escalade. The platform makes use of power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering and four-wheel independent suspension with double control arms in the front and four-link suspension in back. Braking is provided by large four-wheel disc brakes with vented discs and double-piston calipers up front. The R350 has 17-in. seven-spoke light-alloy wheels and the R500 comes with 18-in. wheels.

Standard features include: two-stage adaptive air bags for the driver and front passenger, window-curtain side air bags that span all three rows of seats, and belt tensioners and force limiters for all six seats. Other safety features are: ABS antilock brakes, ESP stability control, four-wheel traction control, and Brake Assist, which reduces stopping distances by sensing emergency braking and automatically applying full-power brake force.

In 2004, there were 221,610 new Mercedes-Benz sold, the highest sales volume in its history.

Sponsored Recommendations

Pumps Push the Boundaries of Low Temperature Technology

June 14, 2024
As an integral part of cryotechnology, KNF pumps facilitate scientific advances in cryostats, allowing them to push temperature boundaries and approach absolute zero.

The entire spectrum of drive technology

June 5, 2024
Read exciting stories about all aspects of maxon drive technology in our magazine.


May 15, 2024
Production equipment is expensive and needs to be protected against input abnormalities such as voltage, current, frequency, and phase to stay online and in operation for the ...

Solenoid Valve Mechanics: Understanding Force Balance Equations

May 13, 2024
When evaluating a solenoid valve for a particular application, it is important to ensure that the valve can both remain in state and transition between its de-energized and fully...

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of Machine Design, create an account today!