Hope riding on M-class
Benz sees the off-roader leading a surge, writes NEIL McDONALD
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.