Safety systems are comprehensive and include the award-winning PRE-SAFE system that anticipates impacts and acts according to the expected severity of the collision.
There are revised engines in the Mercedes Benz ML line-up. The ML 280 and ML 320 CDI have the same 3.0-litre V6 engine but with different outputs of 190 and 224PS (hp), respectively. The ML 420 CDI houses a 4.0-litre V8 diesel and the ML 500, a 5.5-litre, V8 petrol unit. Topping the range is the ML 63 AMG with its 6.0-litre, V8 petrol engine delivering a massive 510PS.
The test car, the Mercedes Benz ML 280, produces its power at 4,000rpm and 440Nm of torque between 1,400 and 2,800rpm, so there is always plenty on tap. It is a direct injection unit with a variable turbocharger, which is capable of taking the car from 0-62mph in 9.8 seconds and on to a top speed of 127mph, which is no mean feat considering the size and weight of the ML.
All of the engines are mated to the Mercedes Benz, award-winning 7G-TRONIC, 7-speed automatic transmission, driving all four wheels through the 4-MATIC all-wheel-drive system. Gear changes are through a simple column-shift or small paddles for more control over the changes. Having the shift on a stalk feels a tad strange at first and I reached for the more conventional gearshift position on more than one occasion, but soon got used to it.
The 3.0-litre CDI engine has also had a few revisions to the fuel management system for lower emissions and improved economy. Figures for the Mercedes Benz ML 280 Sport are posted as: 23.2, 34.9 and 29.4mpg for the urban, extra-urban and combined, respectively. Emissions from the twin tailpipes are 254g/km.
The Mercedes Benz ML 280 offers a smooth ride on open roads and has good suspension with anti-dive control to the front axle and anti-squat, anti-lift at the rear. Although it is called a Sport, it is not keen on swift changes of direction on country lanes. That said, the dynamics are good for a vehicle of this size. The driver does feel like he or she owns the road, such is the commanding position.
Safety systems are comprehensive and include the award-winning PRE-SAFE system that anticipates impacts and acts according to the expected severity of the collision. NECK-PRO, anti-whiplash head restraints are also a standard feature as are front, side and window airbags.
ABS with Brake Assist, Downhill Speed Regulation (DSR) Hill Start Assist, ESP with Acceleration Skid Control (ASR) and Four-wheel Electronic Traction System (4ETS) are all on the safety list, too, which is comforting to know. There seem to be more electronic systems on board than you could shake a tree at and it takes a while to discover them unless you take some time to read the handbook, which is the size of a small bible.
With prices ranging from £38,900.31 for the Mercedes Benz ML 280 SE, to £75,817.76 for the ML 63 AMG, there is something to suit most budgets for luxury SUVs, but there are not many that are so comprehensively equipped and with so many optional extras available, including personalisation packages, should you choose.7 April 2009
Mercedes Benz M-Class Road Test Data
|Model Reviewed||Mercedes Benz ML 280 CDI Sport|
|Performance (manufacturers data)|
|0 - 62 mph||9.8 seconds|
|Top Speed||127 mph|
|Transmission||7G-Tronic 7-Speed Automatic|
|CO2 Emissions (NEDC Figures)||g/km|
|Economy (NEDC Figures)|
|Extra Urban||34.9 mpg|
|Euro NCAP Rating||5 Star|
|Warranty||3 years / Unlimited miles|
|Price (when tested on the 07/04/09)||£41,347|