It has a sleeker appearance, boasts more luxury and comes with more user-friendly features – but the revamped Mercedes-Benz M-Class also offers better value.
Only £250 of the £2,400-worth of additional equipment now fitted as standard to the most popular version of the luxury sport utility line-up is being passed on to the customer.
Even though most of the people who buy the ML 280 CDI SE model are higher-income earners and company directors, the move to boost its showroom proposition reflects the fact that the German firm acknowledges that it faces a tougher sales environment.
“While we wanted to give additional value to the customer, we were also keen to retain a sub-£40,000 entry price. This puts us in a good position to continue the success that has already been achieved by the M-Class,” said product executive Felicity Wood.
After a decade in the UK, the US-built range has clocked up more than 54,000 registrations. Sales so far this year total more than 3,500 and the company hopes fresh packaging will underpin its position as the fourth best seller in its sector.
Reinforcing more attractive lines are a power-operated tailgate, front and rear parking sensors, redesigned seats, projection beam headlamps, automatic wipers, Bluetooth connectivity and auto-dim mirrors.
With Standard trim discontinued, the SE becomes the company’s main competitor for the X5 and Range Rover Sport.
Along with the more powerful 320 CDI, the 280 shares under-bonnet tweaks that lift combined economy by 1.2mpg and cut CO2 emission levels by 8g/km to make it one of the cleanest and most frugal in its sector.
More supportive seating with four-way electric lumbar support reinforces comfort in a model that offers understated high performance on and off-road and added convenience is provided by a new multi-function steering wheel and a powered tailgate.
However, customers who want to replace the standard run-flat tyre with a full-size spare wheel and carrier mounted at the rear face an extra charge of more than £1,400.