This article will answer the following questions: Does Mercedes Benz use manual transmission? What are the manual transmissions in Mercedes Benz? Is the Mercedes Manual gearbox better than the automatic gearbox?
Mercedes Benz uses manual transmission in very few models like the A-class and B class compact cars. However, the company is more focused on the electric drivetrain and Mercedes Benz will discontinue the manual gearbox completely by the end of 2014.
Mercedes Benz is planning to shift entirely to a fully electric drivetrain by 2040, to manufacture sustainable cars in future. Manual transmission is much smaller and simpler than Automatic transmission but the demand for cars with Manual transmission has been going down since 2012. Mercedes Benz engines are also developing more torque because of direct injection and forced air induction, manual gearbox simply cannot transfer the same level of torque and keep the overall production cost less.
The last manual transmission used by Mercedes Benz was in the C class 2014 models with a 4 cylinders engine M271. After launching the fifth generation of the C class with model series W205 in 2014, Mercedes Benz no longer uses manual transmission from the C class onwards.
The cost of the Mercedes Benz cars in the domestic, as well as international market, is very high so naturally, new customers want the comfort of automatic transmission. Only the base level models in the new generation cars like A, B, CLA, GLA manual transmission are mated with the 1.3-litre engine.
The 1.3 litres petrol engine is developed in a partnership with Nissan and Renault automobile companies. Mercedes Benz, Nissan and Renault use the M282 engine in most of their compact cars. The power developed by the small turbocharged engine is between 100- 150 horsepower and manual transmission can easily handle the torque up to 300 Nm.
In the diesel variants, OM654q is mounted transversely with a slightly modified timing case cover. The displacement of the OM654 is also 1.4 litres compared to 2.0 litres in its longitudinally mounted version in the C class.
Mercedes Benz cars with a manual transmission are only popular amongst car enthusiasts, who want to feel more connected to the vehicle. In the 1970s, the AMG company before merging into Mercedes Benz sold specially manufactured manual transmissions for models like the SL, S class and the W124. Quite a lot of customers liked the Manual transmission but it remained a novelty and the manual transmission mode never outsold models with an automatic transmission.
What are the manual transmissions used in Mercedes Benz?
Mercedes Benz was never popular for its quality of manual transmissions. Initially, the company sold most of its manual transmission models in the domestic market. Mercedes Benz had only 5 different manual transmissions and the manual transmissions were identified by numbers 711/71X. The number for automatic transmission starts with 722.
Following are the different manual transmissions used in Mercedes Benz
- 4-speed synchromesh transmissions
It is the first manual transmission used in the Mercedes 170 model series W136 that was produced between 130 -150. The 4-speed manual transmission was mated to an inline 4 cylinder engine which produced 37 bhp. The engine and transmission were mounted on rubber mounts which greatly improved the NVH levels of the W136 and it set a standard for comfort levels in Mercedes Benz.
Out of the 4 speeds, only the third and 4 gears had synchronizers, the first two gears did not use a synchromesh ring. Drivers had to use double-declutching and match the engine speeds before downshifting into the lower gears otherwise they risk causing permanent damage to the manual transmission
- Manual transmission 711
The Mercedes Benz 4 speed 711 transmission was more modern and allowed for a smooth gear shift and higher power output. It was used in the 240 GD, 300GD and 28- GE, the bell housing if the transmission was cast in the lightweight alloys and there were 4 forward gears with one reverse gear.
Since the 711 was mostly utilised in the SUV class, there was no overdrive in the manual transmission.
- Manual transmission 716/717
The 716 and 717 were 4 and 5-speed manual transmissions used in the W126, W124, W201 and later in some G wagon models. The 717 also had 5 forward gears and 5 gears were used as overdrive which reduced the overall fuel consumption. Both the transmissions were produced between 1980 -1999.
All the gears had synchronised so there were no major problems in the gearbox. W126 was offered in a 4-speed automatic and 5-speed manual gearbox but in markets like the US, the only automatic gearbox was available. Few customers even decided to convert their automatic gearbox in W124 to a manual gearbox because of its reliability and low cost of maintenance.
- G56 manual transmission
The g56 manual transmission is a 6-speed gearbox specially designed to withstand high input torque. It was suitable for large capacity diesel engines and mostly used in pickup trucks and SUVs. The gear ratio of the G56 is more suitable for highway cruising. The G56 gearbox used an aluminium casing and all gears were synchronised, even the reverse gear.
It was mostly manufactured in Brazil and originally intended to be used in light diesel pick-up trucks before Mercedes Benz started to use it in the G class.
The majority of the manual transmissions were manufactured by Getrag which was founded in 1935 in Germany. The 5 speed 717 manual transmission was also known as a dog-legged gearbox due to its shift pattern and position of reverse gear. Unlike the conventional shift pattern dog, the legged gearbox has a reverse gear in the position of the first gear.
Is the Mercedes Benz manual transmission better than the automatic transmission?
Mercedes Benz used 4-5 speed manual transmission in the passenger cars. Manual transmissions connected between the engine and the final drive had different gear ratios, the driver had to select the optimum gear according to the driving situation and keep the engine at the correct engine speed.
The clutch connected to the flywheel consists of a friction and pressure plate; the driver can engage and disengage the input shaft of the manual transmission from the output shaft of the engine. This reduces the strain on the gears and allows smooth gear shifts.
Different gears can be selected with the help of the shifter forks connected to the gear stick via various linkages and Bowden cables. Synchromesh rings ensure the speed of input to different gears is matched before the gears are engaged, this also protects damage to the transmission.
The transmission fluid capacity of the manual transmission is also significantly less than the automatic transmission as the size is small and fewer parts need lubrication. The automatic transmission uses a torque converter which takes up to 4 litres of transmission fluid. Therefore the cost of maintenance of the automatic transmission is very high.
There is an independent electro-hydraulic controller unit in the automatic transmission which controls solenoids on the hydraulic valve body. Depending on the speed of the input shaft, the control unit can pressurise different clutch packs to engage or brake different planetary gears in the automatic transmission housing and produce different gear ratios.
Although manual transmissions are smaller and much simpler in construction they simply cannot be used with engines producing a high level of torque. Automatic transmissions offer much more smooth gearshifts and reduce driving strain on the customers, especially in stop and go city traffic.
Many modern automatic transmission has a crawl function built into them so that vehicle can be easily manoeuvred in tight spaces and Mercedes Benz also has paddle shifters behind the steering wheel. Customers can use the paddle shifters and control the gears like a manual transmission. Therefore, automatic transmissions are better than manual transmissions.
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Mercedes Benz sold very few models in the international markets with manual transmission and the demand for new models with manual transmission is not there. Mercedes Benz also manufactures great dual-clutch automatic transmissions which utilise the simplicity of manual transmission and comfort of automatic transmission.
As an automotive enthusiast with a comprehensive understanding of Mercedes Benz and its transmission systems, I'll provide detailed insights into the concepts discussed in the article.
Mercedes Benz's Usage of Manual Transmission: Mercedes Benz did incorporate manual transmissions in select models, particularly the A-class and B-class compact cars. However, the company made a strategic shift away from manual gearboxes, discontinuing them completely by the end of 2014. This move aligns with Mercedes Benz's broader focus on electric drivetrain technology, aiming for a complete transition to fully electric vehicles by 2040.
Factors Influencing the Shift Away from Manual Transmission:
Evolution of Engine Technology: The advancement in Mercedes Benz engines, marked by direct injection and forced air induction, has led to increased torque production. Manual transmissions, being smaller and simpler, struggle to efficiently transfer the higher torque levels. Moreover, the overall production cost is reduced with automatic transmissions.
Declining Demand for Manual Transmission: Since 2012, the demand for cars with manual transmissions has been steadily decreasing. Mercedes Benz, being a luxury brand with a focus on comfort, witnessed a shift in customer preferences towards automatic transmissions, particularly in the high-priced domestic and international markets.
Mercedes Benz Manual Transmissions Through the Years:
Last Manual Transmission (C Class 2014 Models): The final application of manual transmission in Mercedes Benz was observed in the C class 2014 models, featuring a 4-cylinder engine (M271). However, post the introduction of the fifth generation C class (model series W205) in 2014, manual transmissions were no longer utilized.
Manual Transmission in Compact Cars: Manual transmissions are limited to base-level models in the new generation cars, such as A, B, CLA, and GLA. These models are equipped with a 1.3-litre engine, developed in collaboration with Nissan and Renault.
Diesel Variants: In diesel variants, the OM654q engine with a displacement of 1.4 litres is utilized, differing from its longitudinally mounted 2.0-litre version in the C class.
Overview of Manual Transmissions Used in Mercedes Benz: Mercedes Benz had a history of manual transmissions, although it was not particularly known for their quality. Notable manual transmissions include:
4-speed Synchromesh Transmissions: Introduced in the Mercedes 170 model series W136, providing comfort levels and setting standards for the time.
Manual Transmission 711: A 4-speed transmission used in models like 240 GD, 300GD, and 28-GE, featuring modern design for smooth gear shifts and higher power output.
Manual Transmission 716/717: 4 and 5-speed transmissions utilized in various models, including W126, W124, W201, and certain G wagon models.
G56 Manual Transmission: A 6-speed gearbox designed for high input torque, commonly used in pickup trucks and SUVs.
Comparison between Manual and Automatic Transmission: While manual transmissions offer a more direct connection for enthusiasts, automatic transmissions have gained popularity due to several factors:
Smooth Gearshifts: Automatic transmissions provide smoother gearshifts, reducing driving strain, especially in stop-and-go traffic.
Maintenance Cost: Automatic transmissions generally have higher maintenance costs due to a torque converter and a larger volume of transmission fluid.
High Torque Handling: Automatic transmissions can handle engines producing high levels of torque, offering better performance.
Convenience Features: Modern automatic transmissions come with features like paddle shifters, allowing drivers to manually control gears when desired.
In conclusion, Mercedes Benz's decision to discontinue manual transmissions aligns with market trends and customer preferences, with automatic transmissions offering a balance between the simplicity of manual gearboxes and the comfort demanded by luxury car buyers.