This week’s New York Auto Show has seen the debut of three brand new Mercedes Benz models, as well as the U.S. debuts of the 2010 model year E-Class Sedan and Coupe. The trio of world firsts includes the recently revealed E63 AMG performance saloon, the 2010 model year facelifted S-Class, and now the production version of the ML450 Hybrid SUV.

Set to join the S400 BlueHybrid sedan in showrooms this August, the new ML450 Hybrid will arrive as a 2010 model and is claimed to offer similar performance to the V8-powered ML550. The ML450 Hybrid is based on the concept version unveiled at 2007’s Frankfurt Motor Show and will come with a 3.5L petrol V6 mated to an electric motor.

The system is similar to the one found in the S400 BlueHybrid, with power coming from a 3.5L V6 engine and a electric motor running on lithium-ion batteries. Peak output stands at 340hp (250kW) and 381lb-ft (517Nm). Fuel efficiency gains are made through a combination of technologies, including stop-start functionality, which helps to cut fuel use while standing still at traffic lights or jams. Around town the ML450 Hybrid will also be able to cruise on electric power alone for short distances and low speeds.

The model designed specifically for the U.S. market delivers city fuel consumption of 21mpg (11.2L/100km) and highway consumption of 24mpg (9.8L/100km), making it the most efficient vehicle in its segment. With its SULEV (Super Ultra Low Emission Vehicle) classification, the SUV meets the most stringent emissions standard currently applicable in the U.S.

But improved efficiency isn't the only effect the hybrid system has - it can also boost performance for brief periods. By kicking in the electric motor's full 118lb-ft (160Nm) of torque as the fuel-intensive acceleration phase kicks in, it speeds take-off while minimizing fuel use. Regenerative braking helps to maximize efficiency and recapture energy that would otherwise be lost. All of the operation of the hybrid system is displayed for the driver's convenience in a single display in the instrument cluster.