The Mercedes M-Class has undergone a mid-life facelift and mild re-engineering in an attempt to rise to the challenge of BMW’s highly popular X5.
The Mercedes M-Class has undergone a mid-life facelift and mild re-engineering in an attempt to rise to the challenge of BMW’s highly popular X5. The four-year-old high-luxury off-roader will feature no less than 1 100 alterations to components and settings on the current vehicle.
According to Auto Express, the exterior changes to the M-Class are discreet but effective. New clear-glass, projector-style headlights, six-spoke alloys and a broader air intake give the car “a more hi-tech and aggressive look”, as do the foglamps mounted within the body-coloured bumpers. The tail-lights have been revised and side indicators neatly integrated into the wing mirrors.
According to various reports, the original US-built model came in for criticism concerning its interior build quality, but Mercedes have evidently taken notice of this. The interior has been up-rated with higher quality plastics and tighter fitting panels. The centre console in particular has been improved, with chrome-trimmed climate control switches and additional stowage compartments.
The ML430 will be replaced by the ML500, which is powered by the 218 kW five-litre V8 engine from the S-Class. For a bulky off-roader, the ML 500 can accelerate from 0-100 km/h in only 7,7 seconds, which is less than a second slower than the outrageous AMG ML55. Thanks to Mercedes’s intelligent five-speed automatic gearbox, which adjusts to driving conditions and individual styles, throttle response is improved dramatically.
The M-Class’s more traditional, rugged construction really pays dividends off-road, even though most buyers are unlikely to take their prized possessions bundu-bashing. The V8 gives a hefty 440 N.m of torque, available at 2 700 r/min, and with Mercedes’s 4ETS traction system in operation to limit wheel slip and send the power to where it is really needed, the ML500 promises to be sure-footed over challenging, slippery terrain. There is also a low-ratio gearbox to help with towing or steep inclines, something that the X5 lacks.
Standard equipment on the new M-Class includes curtain airbags, climate control and 17-inch alloy wheels. Options include a seven-seat layout, while xenon lamps and the Mercedes Comand satellite navigation add a touch of S-Class luxury to the off-roader. Parktronic, an ingenious radar gadget to help slot the ML into tight spaces, features a new dashboard-mounted light display.
A new twin-turbo 4,0-litre diesel is already available in Europe, and it nearly matches the ML500 for performance – but Mercedes will not build a right-hand drive model unless there is sufficient demand in markets such as South Africa, Australia and Britain.
“Bridging the gap between luxury soft-roader and all-terrain vehicle, the latest M-Class will keep Mercedes’s foothold in this sector until the launch of its all-new model in two years,” AutoExpress says.