Mercedes-Benz M-Class

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Mercedes ML320 CDi Sport

Road Test

Mercedes-Benz M-Class CDi Sport

Driven January 2009

Additional Info

Here's the deal - if you want an SUV to carry seven people, none is as good as the Land Rover Discovery. If you have fewer friends, and only want to carry five people, it's hard to go past the Mercedes M-Class. A minor face-lift wasn't necessary to keep it right at the top of its class, but it's got one anyway, and it's better for it.

The COMAND satnav system has been updated, the usual tweak has been done to the bumpers, and there's a new grille. These are only minor upgrades but they help keep things fresh. More importantly, the engine and general feel of competency is as up-to-date as ever.

The revised 3.0-litre diesel is still the highlight, and it now returns 0.7mpg extra. But the key thing is the M doesn't feel underpowered. The 2.7 diesel in the Disco can feel underwhelming, and the D5 in the XC90 tends to rev like it's got a CVT gearbox, but the M doesn't. One thing, though - there's a V8 diesel available with 516 lb ft of torque for an extra £12K, and you'll get similar fuel economy figures from it. Dah, what credit crunch?

Avoid the 21in wheels. They upset the ride. It was icy when I drove it, but I couldn't figure out whether the tram-lining effect was due to the ice or because the wheels were so oversized. For a car that prides itself on its on-road manners, it's not what you want from your M-Class. Everything else, though - including the minor changes - is just fine.

Piers Ward

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