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Mercedes-Benz introduces nine-speed automatic gearbox

Mon, 22 Jul 2013

Mercedes-Benz has quietly slipped a new nine-speed automatic into its lineup as standard equipment on the European market E350 BlueTec.

The new in-house produced unit, known internally under the name 9G-Tronic, has long been slated for selected Mercedes-Benz models.

However, its existence was officially denied until the weekend, when Mercedes-Benz's German language website configurator went live with various updates for the E-class lineup -- including an entry signaling the 9G-Tronic is now available on the standard rear-wheel drive E350 BlueTec in place of the older seven-speed.

The adoption of the 9G-Tronic fails to make any impact on the official E350 BlueTec's 0-62mph acceleration, which remains at 6.6 seconds. But with two extra ratios and improvements to its stop/start function over the 7G-Tronic unit, its combined cycle fuel consumption figure on the European test procedure has improved from 42.8 mpg (U.S.) to 44.4 mpg (U.S.).

The moderate gain is due to a 9 percent improvement in city cycle economy, which goes from an earlier 34.1 mpg (U.S.) to 36.7 mpg (U.S.). The highway figure remains the same as before at 50.0 mpg (U.S.).

Mercedes-Benz says the new nine-speed automatic gearbox will be made available on E-class models in North America. But as the 3.0-liter V6-diesel powered E350 BlueTec does not form part of the local lineup, buyers will have to wait until it filters down into other models before seeing it Stateside.

In other changes to the E-class lineup, Mercedes-Benz has introduced the seven speed 7G-Tronic automatic gearbox as standard equipment on the E220 BlueEfficiency Edition. Previously, it came with a standard six-speed manual gearbox.

In sedan guise the E220 BlueEfficiency Edition retains the same 0-62 mph acceleration as the earlier E220 BlueEfficiency Edition with the then-optional seven-speed automatic, but its combined cycle consumption improves from 50 mpg (U.S.) to 53.5 mpg (U.S.). Autoweek was also told that the upgraded model now complies with the European Commission's EU6 emission regulations set to come into effect next year.

A new E200 NGD model has also been introduced to Mercedes-Benz's European lineup. The natural gas-fueled E-class runs the same turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine used in the B200 NGD, with 154 hp and 199 lb-ft of torque. Mercedes-Benz claims a 0-62 mph time of 10.4 seconds and combined cycle economy of 4.3 kg of natural gas per 100km -- the equivalent of 37.3 mpg (U.S.).

By Greg Kable