Mercedes-Benz has unveiled the new M-Class, with more than 1,100 modifications on its predecessor.
The existing engine range continues, apart from the removal of the ML 430. A five-litre V8 petrol engine powers the new ML 500. Developing 292bhp at 5,600 rpm, it completes the existing line-up of the ML 270 CDI, ML 320, and ML 55 AMG.
The new ML 500 has a 0-62 mph time of 7.7 seconds, and a top speed of 138 mph. The fuel tank on all non-AMG models has increased from 70 to 83 litres. The ML 55 AMG retains its 93-litre tank.
The new M-Class includes permanent four-wheel drive as standard, and an improved version of the advanced 4-ETS system. The revised system uses an actively controlled brake booster that can brake individual wheels to improve off-road traction. 4-ETS also helps with traction on slippery inclines, by applying retardation to the wheels with most grip, helping the driver keep control. By using the brakes instead of engine braking in these extreme conditions, 4-ETS can keep the M-Class at a constant speed when travelling downhill. The system also stops the vehicle rolling back when moving off on steep gradients.
A five speed dual range automatic transmission system is standard from the ML 320 upwards (ML 270 CDI has a six-speed manual dual range 'box), with the additional benefits of a new "optimum gear speed" control. As with other Mercedes-Benz models, the transmission has a tip-shift function. This gives manual sequential control of the gears by tapping the lever left (down) or right (up).
The exterior has a number of changes. New bumpers front and rear enhance low speed impact resistance, and add 51 mm to the overall length – now 4,638 mm. There are also new clear glass front headlights with revised reflectors. Front fog lights, previously incorporated in the headlight unit are now mounted in the front bumper. LED side repeater indicators have moved to the aerodynamically restyled wing mirrors. Headlamp Assist is standard on the new M-Class, giving automatic activation of the headlights at dusk or when driving through a tunnel, thanks to a light sensor in the windscreen.
All models have colour coded exterior trim, while V8 models also have chrome-plated radiator grilles, door and tailgate handles. New 17" alloy wheels complete the exterior changes. Previously, ML 270 CDI and ML 320 models had 16" wheels and tyres.
Inside, the most obvious new feature is a redesigned centre console. The standard automatic climate control retains three circular dials, but they now have chrome bezels and red LED markers. Rear seat passengers also gain their own ventilation outlets and controls, housed in the rear section of the centre console. The front part of the centre console also includes an extra storage compartment, a redesigned ashtray, and added an oddments tray to the spacious compartment beneath the front centre armrest. Eucalyptus wood trim is standard on ML 270 CDI and ML 320 models, with the ML 500 gaining brown burr walnut. The ML 55 AMG gets black burr walnut as standard.
Interior safety is improved with the addition of two ISOFIX child seat mounting points in the rear. Side impact window bags are also now standard. At two metres long, 50 cm high, and with a volume of 28 litres, they inflate across the length of the interior, protecting occupants' heads in the event of a side impact. Driver and front passenger adaptive front airbags are standard, as are front side impact bags. Rear side impact bags are available as an option.
Other options available on the new range include bi-xenon headlights, headlamp washer jets, an improved Bose sound system, Parktronic parking assistance, and SMS text messaging for the optional COMAND audio, navigation and telecommunications unit. A full range of other Mercedes-Benz options is also offered.
The new M-Class will arrive in the UK in the autumn. Prices are only £400 - £500 higher than existing models.
On the road prices:
ML 270 CDI £28,795
ML 320 £31,640
ML 500 £41,390
ML 55 AMG £51,040
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