Hope rid­ing on M-class

Benz sees the off-roader lead­ing a surge, writes NEIL McDON­ALD

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Prestige -

SOME­TIMES things seem to ar­rive in the nick of time. Take the new Mercedes- Benz M-Class. With sales down 25 per cent this year cou­pled with fall­out from the new tax on lux­ury ve­hi­cles and the global and lo­cal eco­nomic woes, Mercedes is hop­ing the facelifted M-Class will rein­vig­o­rate in­ter­est in its off-roader.

The five-model line-up re­mains un­changed, start­ing with the $81,000 ML 280 CDI and ris­ing to the stel­lar $167,500 ML 63 AMG.

Prices have shifted slightly, up by $255 to $3022, de­pend­ing on the model, but equip­ment up­grades make up for that.

Apart from more equip­ment, the big wagon has a dis­tinc­tive new front end, a re­vised rear and larger mir­rors.

In­side is a new four-spoke multi-func­tion steer­ing wheel with stan­dard shift pad­dles, new trim, re­designed seats with four-way lum­bar sup­port, and the op­tion of new twotone dash­boards.

There are also new wheels— 18-inch al­loys on the ML 280 CDI — with the op­tion of 17-inch wheels for off-road­ing, as well as 19 and 20-inch com­bi­na­tions.

Me­chan­i­cally, the car re­mains un­changed with the same V6 petrol and diesel en­gines and V8s as pre­vi­ously.

The lat­est gen­er­a­tion of Mercedes-Benz’s Telem­at­ics sys­tem has been im­proved with an in­te­grated MP3 con­nec­tion with steer­ing­wheel con­trols and dis­plays on the in­stru­ment panel and cen­tre con­sole. A pre­mium 12-speaker Har­man Kar­don sur­round-sound pack­age with an out­put of 610 Watts is $1600.

The range opens with the 140kW/440Nm 3.0-litre V6 tur­bod­iesel ML280 CDI, which gets an up­graded au­dio sys­tem with a colour mon­i­tor and Blue­tooth. The 3.0-litre tur­bod­iesel de­vel­ops 140kW at 4000 revs and 440Nm from 1400 revs and re­turns 9.6 litres for 100km.

The 3.5-litre V6 petrol ML350 and 3.0-litre V6 diesel ML320 CDI have the lat­est voice­ac­ti­vated Co­mand APS sys­tem, which adds nav­i­ga­tion, an SD card slot and 4GB hard-disc.

The 3.5-litre V6 gets 200kW at 6000 revs and 350Nm at 2400-5000 revs, and re­turns 11.7 litres/100km.

The ML 320CDI shares the same 3.0-litre V6 as the 280. But it de­vel­ops 165kW and 510Nm.

With the 5.5-litre V8 ML500 buy­ers get a wood and leather steer­ing wheel, sun­roof and 20-inch al­loys. The ML500 de­liv­ers 13.4 litres/ 100km.

The range-top­ping ML63 AMG car­ries over the 6.2-litre petrol V8 and re­turns 16.5 litres/ 100km. The ML63 de­vel­ops 375kW at 6800 revs and 630Nm at 5200 revs.

In keep­ing with its AMG her­itage, the big V8 gets a more mus­cu­lar front-end treat­ment and larger grille.

Up­front changes: the front end of the M-class wagon has been re­made.

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