Tuesday, November 28, 2017

(Look-back review) Devon test drives a Mercedes ML

Mercedes-Benz ML 350 BlueTEC 4MATIC (W 166) – Frontansicht, 8. September 2013, Bösensell.jpg

If you’re looking for a luxury sport utility vehicle that’s stylish and well rounded. You might first think of the BMW X5 which in fact is a great choice. But what if you want something a bit more posh and slightly more comfortable? Then the Mercedes ML may tick all the right buttons.
Performance: The standard ML350 has a 3.5-liter six-cylinder producing 302hp. You can step up to a ML350 Blue-TEC which has a 3-liter turbo-diesel producing 240hp. ML550 uses a 4.6-liter bi-turbocharged eight-cylinder with a massive 402hp while top of the range AMG has a handcrafted 5.5-liter bi-turbocharged eight-cylinder producing a staggering 518hp. Pick of the range is the standard ML350 which will satisfy most buyers. The diesel engine option also makes sense if you do tons of highway driving.

On the road: You may think that the ML is cushy thanks to the soft suspension set up. However, this is not the case here. The ride feels harsh over rough surfaces and does very little at faster pace. The X5 feels more composed. If you option for the air suspension system things will improve. The AMG fitted models have an overly firm ride but improves handling quite a bit. The engines including the diesel feel smooth in operation. Road nose won’t be an issue however it’s sad that wind noise enters the cabin at speeds above 50mph.

Behind the wheel: The only complaints we have with the interior is the single stalk that is used for the turn signal and windshield wipers. Also touch screen infotainment system has too many menus that can be distracting to use on the go. Other than that the driving position is spot on. Interior for the most part is user friendly and visibility all round is decent.

Equipment: ML350 gets leather seats, LED daytime running lamps, 19 inch alloy wheels and dual-zone auto climate control. You’ll have to step up the ML550 to get unique body-kit, power tailgate and heated front seats. Top of the range AMG gets eco stop/start system. 20 inch alloy wheels, active ventilated leather seats with bi-xenon headlamps as well as AMG body-kit.

Buying & owning: The ML is slightly cheaper than the X5 but it isn’t really cheaper by much. You’ll have to pay for optional kit such as bi-xenon headlamps, power folding mirrors and keyless start which most will likely want and of course will push the price higher than we can say is not justifiable. If you pick and choose your options wisely you’ll walk away with a decently priced ML with good resale value thanks to the Mercedes badge.

Quality: The cabin feels well-crafted with much of the controls and dials feeling sturdy. However you’ll want to be mindful of the fact that Mercedes has consistently scored below Audi, BMW and Mercedes when it comes to reliability of its products.

Safety: The standard safety kit extends from seven airbags, attention assist which monitors driver fatigue and pop up bonnet for pedestrian safety. An anti-theft alarm system comes standard but Mercedes rejects deadlocks on the grounds of safety reasons.

The Mercedes ML is a great choice if you want something other than the X5 and Range Rover Sport. It’s stylish and offers plenty of kit for the money. But you’ll have to pay for the features that you’ll most likely want and these options aren’t cheap. It will push the ML price steep pretty quickly. If you can ignore these few negatives you’ll find the ML is a well-rounded luxury sport utility vehicle with plenty going for it.

Likes: Stylish inside out with generous cabin space, strong range of engines to choose from.

Dislikes: Add on the options watch the price sky rocket. Bi-xenon headlamps should be standard across the range rather than limited to just the AMG trim. Disappointing drive without air suspension fitted and that’s optional.

Devon’s pick: The ML350 is the most logical choice thanks to it being the cheapest to buy. But we feel that you’ll get a better deal with the ML350 Blue-TEC. It may cost a bit more than the ML350 but it makes the most sense especially if you do lots of highway driving.

ML350 ***
Likes: Smooth and flexible six-cylinder. Clearly the most logical choice if you stay clear of the options list.
Dislikes: So many options and so many of them are expensive.
ML350 Blue-TEC ****
Likes: Smooth and sophisticated diesel engine. Massive torque at low revs makes it more flexible with higher towing ratings.
Dislikes: Running costs almost similar to ML350. At this price point some options shouldn’t be optional.
ML550 ***
Likes: It’s the closest thing to an AMG without going overboard.
Dislikes: Running costs will be steep. Why are Bi-Xenon headlamps only optional?
ML63 AMG *
Likes: Outrageously fast. AMG crafted interior and exterior.
Dislikes: Outrageously expensive to buy and run.

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