MAKE MINE AN ML

MAKE MINE AN ML

THE new Mercedes M-Class is easy to enjoy.

When driving the Mercedes M-Class (pictured), it’s always good to be seen.

With the latest range of this luxury SUV, there’s also plenty to talk about.

Whether it’s on a weekend day-trip for some off-road fun, the weekday school run, a stop off at afternoon footy training or after a test drive through the streets of Taringa, expect to be asked: So what’s the new M-Class like?

From the outside, its sleek and stylized features are plain to see. But the true answers to that compelling question only come from getting behind the wheel of this refined and improved update of what has become a motoring classic.

Engine and economy

The numbers say it all with the M-Class: 6.4 litres per 100km for the ML 250 2.2 litre four cylinder diesel model. It’s a stunning a 30 per cent improvement on the preceding ML300. Obviously, that kind of efficiency is in optimum conditions, but still expect respectable returns from the entire M-Class, even under testing stop-start peak-hour traffic.

That kind of fuel economy is normally associated with mid-range four-cylinder sedans and is a characteristic that makes this luxury all-wheel drive SUV a welcome standout in the battle against rising fuel costs.

Thankfully, grunt has not been compromised to achieve great economy. The M-Class also offers a revamped 3.0 litre V6 (7.3 litres per 100km) turbo diesel or a 3-5 litre bi-turbo petrol model in the ML 350. Then there’s the awe-inspiring ML500 4.7 litre V8 bi-turbo petrol version just around the corner.

A smooth seven-speed transmission along with features like a fuel-saving idle-stop system and a lighter frame also contribute to the fuel-saving appeal of the M-Class range.

Safety and special features

Safety has been a hallmark of Mercedes and various features have been refined and improved across its range of models over many years. The M-Class range boasts the benefits of that research and development.

Not surprisingly, the M-class comes with no less than nine airbags – front, side, rear and in front of the driver’s knees.

The standard model comes with big rubber, 20-inch wheels, with an option for even more impressive five-way doublespoke alloy monsters.

Electronic steering, cruise control, reversing camera and folding mirrors, dual zone climate control and memory functions for front seats (which also can be heated) and mirrors are features long-associated with Mercedes.

But also expect the M-Class to come with modern add-ons like satellite navigation and internet access, television, Bluetooth connectivity and iPod integration, MP3-compatable music system and 10 GB of music storage space.

Value for money

If your measure of value is simply the pricetag, the numbers are pretty much what you would expect for a luxury SUV. The ML 250 starts at $81,400, the ML 350 is from $99,900 and the range climbs to $177,900 for the ML 63 AMG 5.5 litre.

As a yard stick, the ML250 is priced competitively against Audi’s Q7 ($95,700) and the BMW X5 ($103,900).

The real value for money across the entire new M-Class range is reflected in the smooth driving and reactive handling across city, highway and off-road situations.

Couple that with some stunning fuel economy along with the high standards of safety, innovation, entertainment and comfort we have come to expect from Mercedes and the bottom line is the M, once again, stands for a magnificent five-star experience.

POWER POINTS

2012 Mercedes M-Class
MODELS: ML 250, 350, 500 and 63 AMG
ENGINES: 2.2 litre four-cylinder, 3-litre and 3.5 litre V6, 4.7 litre and 5.5 litre V8 (diesel and petrol options vary)
PRICE: $81,400-$177,900
INVESTMENT: 70% (estimated resale return)

Test drive courtesy of Centenary Classic at Taringa.

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