From Hollywood to the Vatican: All-new ML is the new Popemobile

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Daimler AG head of Mercedes-Benz Cars Dr. Dieter Zetsche personally hands over a fully customized Mercedes-Benz M-Class to Pope Benedict XVI.

The first generation M-class SUV by Mercedes-Benz made a huge splash in Hollywood in the first of three Jurassic Park movies that started a genre of high-definition CGI (computer-generated image) monster movies. Dubbed as the “ML”, several highly customized green-colored MLs were used in the world’s most famous dinosaur movie. Unlike its more Spartan cousin the G-Wagon, the ML had more amenities and creature comforts, but it didn’t mean it was less capable for off-roading activities.

Three generations later, the all-new ML was introduced to the local market last year by CATS Motors, the exclusive purveyors of the Teutonic tri-star brand, and is equipped with a 7-speed automatic 7G-Tronic transmission that’s mated with a 3.5-liter V-6 engine dubbed as the ML 350 4-Matic BlueEfficiency; or for a more performance-oriented variant, one can choose the AMG built ML63 model featuring a hairy 5.5-liter V-8 engine.

Aside from being a permanent all-wheel drive, its off-roading features includes Downhill Speed Regulation (DSR) and Electronic Traction System for all-wheel drive (4ETS), the ML’s 4Matic platform is the four-wheel drive system developed and used by Mercedes-Benz to increase traction in slippery conditions, and was developed in conjunction with Steyr-Daimler-Puch (now Magna Steyr), the makers of the brand’s more popular and hardcore 4X4 SUV, the G-Class in Austria.

Since last month, visitors to the Vatican may come across seeing Pope Benedict XVI in a new white Popemobile. Recently, Mercedes-Benz continued an 80-year tradition with the chair of the board of management of Daimler AG and head of Mercedes-Benz Cars Dr. Dieter Zetsche personally handing over a fully customized Mercedes-Benz M-Class, specifically produced for the Pope at the Vatican. “It is an honor for Mercedes-Benz to be accompanying His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI on his future journeys with our new Popemobile,” said Zetsche at the handover of the new Popemobile in Rome. “As such, we are continuing our long-standing partnership with the Vatican. For more than 80 years now, Popes have been able to rely on the quality, safety and comfort of our Mercedes-Benz vehicles.”

The Popemobile is used in a lot of important public appearances both at home and abroad. It gives the Pope the opportunity to get as close as possible to the public without having to forego the highest possible levels of safety and comfort. Pope Benedict XVI used the new vehicle for the first time last Dec. 8 in Rome, where the Catholic feast day of the Immaculate Conception is traditionally celebrated at the Spanish Steps.

The new greenhouse design allows a better view of the Pope thanks to a considerably larger glass panel allotment and is complemented with a large illuminated roof lining. The throne, which is the central design feature in the interior, bears the embroidered coat of arms of the Pope.  Just like the previous Popemobile, it is painted in diamond white. It took only nine months to work on the new Popemobile and it was fitted out just in time for the feast of the Immaculate Conception.

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