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First look: Mercedes M-Class - on sale autumn

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Review

The Mercedes M-class might have kick-started the whole consumer dash to sports utility vehicles back in 1998, but it was soon overhauled by better on-road performers like BMW X5, Lexus RX300 and Volvo XC90.

The next generation M-class promises a revolution when it goes on UK sale in autumn. Based on a monocoque chassis instead of the existing car’s ladder frame, it should offer much improved on-road ride and handling capability.

It’s also 15cm longer, 7cm wider and 1cm lower to the ground, with a 9.5cm longer wheelbase, although Mercedes is keen to stress that no compromise has been made on the model’s off-road abilities. The revised four-wheel drive system now includes downhill descent and hill-holder, plus optional height adjustable air suspension.

Pricing will be slightly above the outgoing M-class, but executives say like-for-like specification comparisons mean the new car is actually better value.

Sales are expected to rise substantially over the outgoing model, which sold 5,434 units last year and 7,000 in its best year (2002).

Buyers will choose from 3.5-litre 268bhp V6 petrol (0-60mph 8.4s) and 3.2-litre V6 diesel, with 7spd automatic transmission. Mercedes also hopes to get the all-new V8 diesel and the existing 5.0-litre V8 petrol, and doesn’t rule out adding the new V12 diesel in the future.

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