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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am considering the Airmatic option on a new ML, based on the favourable comments on the benzworld web site. The vehicle will be used mainly on-road, with the occassional foray off-road.

Airmatic comes as part of the OFF-ROAD PRO Package or as a separate road-going AIRMATIC package. The pricing of the two packages are quite close. Apart from the higher height adjustment in the OFF-ROAD PRO package, does anyone know if there are other differences between the Airmatic in the two packages? Essentially, I am interested to find out whether the Airmatic in the OFF-ROAD PRO package provides less performance when used on-road as compared to the separate AIRMATIC option.

Many thanks for any advice.
 

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2020 MB GLE 450 4MATIC, 2015 BMW M4
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Off-Road Airmatic

The primary difference of the Offroad version is just two additional height settings and a higher maxiimum height. Here is a detailed explanation:

AIRMATIC air suspension in on-road and off-road configurations

The AIRMATIC air suspension system (optional) developed by Mercedes-Benz proves its versatility in the new M-Class. It not only makes a significant improvement to ride comfort, but also offers additional functions for off-road driving.

Mercedes customers are offered a choice: the AIRMATIC package provides an air suspension configured for on-road operation which automatically lowers the suspension by 15 millimetres at higher speeds. For off-road driving this system enables the ground clearance to be increased by 80 millimetres at the touch of a button. The second AIRMATIC variant, which is part of the Off-Road Pro engineering package, enables the vehicle level to be raised in three stages by operating a button: by 30, 80 and 110 millimetres. This gives the new M-Class its maximum ground clearance of 291 millimetres.

It is possible to raise or lower the suspension both when idling or on the move. If the M-Class is moving, the system operates on a speed-dependent basis and automatically lowers the suspension by 15 millimetres at both axles when 140 km/h is reached, in order to reduce the wind resistance and improve handling stability. When the speed falls below 40 km/h the suspension is raised to its normal level again. Other features of the air suspension system include an automatic all-round level control function, which ensures that the suspension travel remains constant even when the vehicle is heavily laden.

The suspension level settings at a glance:

AIRMATIC package / AIRMATIC in the Off-Road Pro technical package

Mode / Change / Ground clearance / Change / Ground clearance
Highway 0 / 181 mm / 0 181 mm
Highspeed - 15 mm* / 166 mm / - 15 mm* / 166 mm
Offroad 1 -- / -- / + 30 mm / 211 mm
Offroad 2 + 80 mm / 261 mm / + 80 mm / 261 mm
Offroad 3 -- / -- / + 110 mm / 291 mm

*automatic lowering

Adaptive shock absorber control according to the driving situation

In both variants AIRMATIC works as standard together with the Adaptive Damping System (ADS), which controls the shock absorber response in line with requirements while taking the road surface, driving style and load into consideration. Selectable solenoid valves in the shock absorbers enable the rebound and compression damping to be modified according to the situation, which considerably reduces body movements. The so-called skyhook algorithm controls the damping forces at each wheel in such a way that the wheel-induced forces acting on the vehicle body are reduced. Thanks to this precise control for each individual wheel, the two front wheels can e.g. be damped more heavily than the rear wheels to reduce the tendency of the body to dive when braking. Depending on the control command, the valves are able to select one of four characteristic curves within an extremely short response time of less than 0.05 seconds:

Stage 1: Comfortable suspension action with small body movements and low acceleration values owing to soft compression and rebound settings.

Stage 2: Skyhook mode – soft rebound setting and a hard compression setting.

Stage 3: Skyhook mode – soft compression setting and hard rebound setting.

Stage 4: Hard rebound and compression setting to reduce wheel load fluctuations when cornering at speed.
When body movements are small the new M-Class operates in ADS stage 1. If body acceleration values exceed a certain level, the system changes over to the skyhook algorithm and uses its rapid-response solenoid valves to continuously switch between the second and third damping stage to compensate the rolling and pitching movements of the vehicle body. The current driving situation is identified by means of a steering angle sensor, three body-mounted acceleration sensors, the speedometer signal giving the road speed, data from the Electronic Stability Program (ESP®) and the signal from the brake pedal switch. On the basis of this information the electronic control unit calculates the most efficient damping forces and selects the relevant characteristic curves for the shock absorbers.

In addition the driver is able to influence the changeover thresholds between the four ADS stages, as well as the spring rate, by pressing a button in the centre console. There is a choice of three modes: "Auto", "Sport" and "Comfort".

The variable ADS gas-pressure shock absorbers and air spring are integrated into a spring strut at the front axle of the new M-Class. At the rear axle the ADS shock absorber is located behind the air spring. Torsion bar stabilisers are also used at both the front and rear.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I noticed in another thread that the OFF-ROAD PRO package is not an option available in the US. Then, are the comments on the superiority of Airmatic suspension that we read on this website based on the on-road AIRMATIC package? Are there any tweaks in the tuning for the on-road AIRMATIC package that may make it different from that in the Airmatic in the OFF-ROAD PRO package?

Many thanks for any info.
 

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2020 MB GLE 450 4MATIC, 2015 BMW M4
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On Road / Off Road Airmatic

BenzSIN said:
I noticed in another thread that the OFF-ROAD PRO package is not an option available in the US. Then, are the comments on the superiority of Airmatic suspension that we read on this website based on the on-road AIRMATIC package? Are there any tweaks in the tuning for the on-road AIRMATIC package that may make it different from that in the Airmatic in the OFF-ROAD PRO package?

Many thanks for any info.
AFAIK, the Off Road version functions identically On Road. There should be no difference in Sport, Auto or Comfort settings. The two additional height settings are the only difference.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Greg, many thanks for the responses.

Maybe, you'll need to bear with one last question. If the OFF-ROAD PRO package is not available in the US, how do ML owners tackle the rough stuff?
 

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I'm not sure but I don't think most American ML Owners plan to rough stuff it with thier ML's. At most some will get trully worked out, many others some light duty and towing and for others the easy life.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Greg & Mike - Appreciate your comments.

Still in a quandary over the OFF-ROAD PRO (with Airmatic) package or the separate AIRMATIC package. Greg's reply indicates that there is no difference in the Airmatic in either package, but the local MB agent refuses to comment.

Perhaps, one of the non-US W164 owners with the OFF-ROAD PRO package can comment on the ride and performance of the Airmatic on their ML.

Right now, I am tending towards option for the OFF-ROAD PRO package. However, as my car will be used mainly on-road, I do not want to sacrifice performance and ride comfort for the occassional off-road use. I am also concerned whether the 2-speed transfer case will generate noise. My 6-year old W163 ML has a droning noise, which I think comes from the drivetrain.

Many thanks for any thoughts.
 

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There's a difference: the Airmatic on the Offroad Pro package has an extra height (+30, 80, 110 mm)

I have the Offroad Pro with Airmatic and after using the truck fro 4 months I can say it's a perfect drive. This car comes from a completely different planet as the old 163. It's MUCH quieter, the airmatic ride is like on a flying carpet and the car is whispering quiet. Absolutely no noise from the differentials.

The airmatic is a MUST for everyone driving the ML, the Offroad package is according your wishes.

Cheers

PS I do miss a "kneel-down" function on this car. Both the Touareg and Range Rover I owned with air suspension had this function.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Many thanks.

Greg did mention that the difference in the two Airmatic versions is the 2 additional height adjustment in the OFF-ROAD PRO package. My apologoes, Greg, for misquoting you.

Best regards.
 
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