Mercedes-Benz has announced the third generation version of its M-Class SUV, stating that the car will set new benchmarks for fuel economy and emissions.

The car, in UK showrooms in April 2012, boasts fuel consumption figures improved on average by 25 per cent over its predecessor.

Notable in the new line-up is a trend towards smaller engines, not least in the ML 250 BlueTec version which, with 47mpg and emissions of 158g/km, is being pitched as the eco standardbearer of the range.

This car now uses a Euro 6 emissions-compliant four-cylinder engine of 2143cc and 201bhp, already seen in the S-Class Mercedes and replacing the previous 3-litre V6 engine. It will go some 13 to 15 miles further on a gallon for some 66g/km less in emissions.

The V6 remains, but significantly reworked, in the ML 350 BlueTec model. Output grows from 228 to 254bhp, torque jumps from 398 to 457lb/ft yet fuel consumption plummets from between 30 and 31.8mpg to between 38.1 and 41.5mpg. Emissions, meanwhile are slashed from 235/246 to 179g/km.

There is also a petrol model, the ML 350 BlueEfficiency. Its 3.5-litre six cylinder engine offers 301bhp (compared to 268 previously), yet still boosts fuel economy by up to 10mpg and cuts emissions by 67g/km.

All the M-Class models come with the 4Matic permanent all-wheel drive system while Mercedes states that new developments to the chassis and the addition of new driving dynamics systems have improved performance both on and off the road.

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