The Mercedes-Benz M-Class has entered the new model year with a new top-of-the-range engine. The 285 kW/388 hp ML 500 4MATIC is now equipped with the latest-generation 5.5-litre V8 petrol engine, which excels with an outstanding performance and a reduced fuel consumption.
The output of the ML 500 4MATIC has been increased by 82 hp compared to its predecessor, while maximum torque has been boosted from 460 to 530 newton metres. Naturally this power increase has a considerable effect on performance: the ML 500 4MATIC now accelerates to 100 km/h in 5.8 seconds, reaching this speed more than one second sooner than its predecessor. Its maximum speed is 250 km/h. This increase in power and performance is not matched by a higher fuel consumption, however, as the NEDC combined consumption has been reduced by up to 0.6 litres to 12.8 litres per 100 kilometres. The range of petrol models is complemented by the 200 kW/272 hp model ML 350 with a V6-engine, as well as the high-performance ML 63 AMG with 375 kW/510 hp.
The top model in the diesel range is the ML 420 CDI 4MATIC, which develops an output of 225 kW/306 hp and a maximum torque of 700 Nm, and therefore has the highest torque of any model in the entire M-Class series. Its key performance figures are outstanding: the ML 420 CDI 4MATIC sprints from standstill to 100 km/h in 6.5 seconds and has a maximum speed of 235 km/h. At the same time its fuel consumption remains moderate at an average of 11.1 litres of diesel per 100 kilometres. In conjunction with a large tank capacity of 95 litres, this favourable fuel consumption provides a remarkable operating range the ML 420 CDI 4MATIC is able to cover a distance of almost 900 kilometres without refuelling. In addition to the high-torque V8 diesel there is a choice of two other diesel units, both of them offering excellent performance with an even lower fuel consumption. The basic V6-engine in the ML 280 CDI has an output of 140 kW / 190 hp, while the ML 320 CDI with the same displacement generates 165 kW/224 hp. Both versions consume just 9.4 litres of diesel per 100 kilometres. All the diesel models are equipped with a maintenance-free particulate filter as standard, and fall below the currently most stringent Euro 4 exhaust emission limits.
Luxurious appointments and exemplary safety
The standard features of the most successful high-volume model in the Mercedes-Benz SUV family include the seven-speed automatic transmission 7G-TRONIC with DIRECT SELECT, ESP®, 4MATIC permanent four-wheel drive and the 4ETS traction system with additional functions such as Downhill Speed Regulation, start-off assist and Offroad-ABS. On request, comfort can be enhanced even further with multi-zone THERMOTRONIC, which has individually controlled zones for the driver, front passenger and rear seat occupants, the AIRMATIC air suspension system with the adaptive damping system ADS, the telematic system COMAND APS or KEYLESS-GO. Difficult terrain can be mastered more easily with the Offroad-Pro engineering package, which includes a low-ratio box, electronically controlled, disc-type locks for the centre and rear axle differential and a higher ground clearance.
Passive safety has always been one of the strengths of this all-rounder – as is the case for all models in the Mercedes-Benz SUV family. In addition to the robust chassis structure with its high-strength passenger cell and deformation zones at the front and rear, airbags with multi-stage activation logic, sidebags for the driver and front passenger, as well as windowbags extending across all the seat rows, provide the occupants with excellent protection. This can be enhanced even further with the optional, preventive occupant protection system PRE-SAFE®.
Worldwide success story
The first generation of the M-Class (W 163) was launched in 1997 and is acknowledged as the precursor to all modern premium SUVs. Equipped with a parmanent four-wheel drive as standard, it combined the comfort and handling safety of a passenger car with the robustness of an off-road vehicle. In addition this Sports Utility Vehicle offered plenty of space and excellent variability, therefore its success was assured from the start: until its replacement in 2005,
the first-generation of the M-Class achieved worldwide sales of around 600,000 units. The present W 164-series M-Class is set to continue this success story. The 2005 M-Class is even more agile, comfortable and safe, while the engine range is more powerful with units optimised for exhaust emissions and fuel consumption. The overall design is decidedly sporty in nature, with an angled windscreen, prominent wings and a shoulder line that rises gently towards the rear. These evolutionary improvements to the M-Class appear to have met the wishes of SUV enthusiasts worldwide very well, as around 250,000 Mercedes-Benz customers have already purchased the latest model.