Moving ahead in its quest to improve fuel economy, Mercedes-Benz has rolled out a new 9-speed automatic in Europe. Although the initial use is in the already-frugal E350 Bluetec diesel 4-door and wagon models starting in September, Mercedes says this new 9G-Tronic cog changer is suitable for all kinds of rear- and all-wheel drive applications -- including hybrid and plug-in hybrid drive systems. Although no time schedule was released, the automaker has confirmed that ultimately the 9G-Tronic will be used in almost all of its models and with a variety of different engines in the coming years. As for a potential ETA in America, M-B sources have so far indicated only that it will not be part of the 2014 lineup here.

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Engineered to be as small and light as possible, this new 9-speed automatic bests M-B's current 7G-Tronic transmission in both of those key areas but is still capable of handling up to a very AMG-like 737 lb-ft of peak torque. In addition to its even wider total-ratio spread that allows for higher vehicle speeds at lower engine rpm, the 9G-Tronic also features a new controller system that significantly increases hydraulic efficiency within the transmission to further enhance fuel economy. Engineered to deliver even quicker and smoother shifts than the 7G-Tronic, this new 9-speed can skip several gears during certain acceleration/deceleration situations and also has a selectable manual-style Sport mode that allows for even more spontaneous response to driver inputs. 

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As for its real-world results, Mercedes notes that while an E350 Bluetec diesel fitted with the new 9G-Tronic sees no change in its 0-60 mph sprint time, the new transmission does contribute to a 3-mpg bump in its city fuel economy and adds 2 mpg to the car's highway number. Those are the kind of hard facts that should put the new 9G-Tronic on a fast track to the U.S., most likely in one or more members of the 2015 M-B lineup.

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