Mercedes M-Class Long Term
Car Tested: Mercedes-Benz M-Class (ML350 CDI)
Kms Done: 2159 kms
Test Started at: 28,638 kms
Test Concluded at: 30,797 kms
Mileage: 8.45 km/l, 12.96 km/l (best), 6.71 km/l (worst)
Fuel Consumed: 232 litres
Fuel Cost: Rs. 13,232/-
Rs. per km: Rs. 6.13/-
The Mercedes M-Class can pleasantly surprise you with its high speed dynamics.
Demand for luxury SUVs has seen an upward turn and if you closely observe, you will notice the new Mercedes M-Class has become a very popular sight. That’s because the German automaker has got it spot on with the new ML. This Mercedes might be the cheapest SUV from the Stuttgart brand in India currently but it’s loaded to the brim and is terrifically engineered. When the company decided to give us the luxury SUV for a long term review, we were quite excited to make it part of our fleet. So when the new ML arrived, we had more than a few travel plans.
First things first, the interiors of the M-Class deserve a special mention. Basked in leather and comfort paralleling a 5-star hotel, one is bound to love the well crafted cabin where attention to detail is par de course. The cabin is plush and the interiors evoke a sense of luxury and richness. The black wood inserts are unique and different with the colour selection spot-on. The silver inserts on the dashboard, the large 4-spoke steering wheel and the plethora of features like three zone climate control, active parking assist, 9-airbags all add to the functionality and safety of the ML. We particularly liked the audio system which has a 10 GB music register which entertained us with new songs all throughout the car’s tenure with us.
The seats in the Mercedes M-Class are among the best we have witnessed. The all round padding is top notch and there is plenty of headroom and legroom. The front seats get heated ventilation which is a boon in the chilly winters. Under-thigh support is excellent as well and the cabin feels airy thanks to the large glass area, amplified further by the large sunroof. Then there is the large boot which can swallow almost anything you throw at it with its 690-litres of luggage carrying capacity. Want to move house? Sure you can by folding the middle row of seats forward. The tail gate can be opened and closed using the buttons on the key.
The Mercedes M-Class is quite an attraction out on the road and even off it. This car has some serious presence and the styling is sharp and purposeful. When the new ML came out, it was the first of the new Mercs to carry the new design language. Fast forward to today and the design continues to play a major part in drawing a crowd around the vehicle. Park the ML anywhere and there are bound to be stares and glares. Our test car came with an AMG body kit which further amplifies the Sporty element.
The 3.0-litre V6 diesel engine has bucket loads of torque and performance is effortless. The V6 powerplant belts out 258 BHP of power but what’s really the talking point is the 620 Nm of torque which comes in between 1600 to 2400 RPM. Thus performance is linear and 0-100 km/hr is dispelled in a mere 7.4 seconds. Top speed is 224 km/hr and the ML pulls strongly in the higher end of the rev band. It doesn’t feel very quick of the mark (after all it weighs close to 2.2 tonnes) but once you floor the pedal at high speeds, it climbs to 200 km/hr in a jiffy, no hint of uneasiness or resistance from the motor whatsoever. Just in case you were wondering, we have been getting a mileage between 6.7 to 13 km/l, the variable depending on the weight of our right foot. Braking performance is good but the pedal has some play which takes getting used to.
A few outings on the Mumbai-Pune expressway revealed the ML’s biggest forte. Stability and the ability to gobble up the miles without any hint of fatigue to the driver. The M-Class has a very light steering at low speeds but as you go faster, the way the steering weighs up is truly something. The feedback at high speeds is phenomenal and that really boosts your confidence enabling you to drive spiritedly. There are two modes – Comfort and Sport and in the latter the car is more dynamic but the ride gets a bit harsh. Our test car was the EDITION1 which gets Designo leather seats and AMG wheels and in spite of the massive 20-inch, low profile rubber, ride quality is compliant. Just imagine how good it would be on the ML250 CDI which runs on higher profile tyres on 18-inch wheels. We did not off-road much but on the short off-tarmac excursions we truly did appreciate the potent 4MATIC all-wheel drive system which made it a cake walk to take the less treaded path. You can also change ride height with a touch of a button and the car automatically reduces the ride height once you speed past 80 km/hr.
No long term review is complete without some nit-picking and no car is perfect either. So what are the issues with the M-Class? The car is bigger than its immediate rivals which means parking in the city can become a tedious task but most owners are chauffeur driven so they shouldn’t feel the extra size to be too much of a pinch. The low profile tyres (45 profile in the launch edition) isn’t well suited when off-roading. Besides one of the Continental tyres on our car had developed a bulge, something common on low profile rubber. New owners need not worry as the ML comes with 18 and 19-inch tyres now (the 20-inch was only offered on the EDITION1). Other than these two shortcomings, I can’t think of much wrong with the ML, which is testimony to the fact of why so many people are gaga over this vehicle. That brings me to another sore point, you can’t get one off the shelf, there is some waiting for this car as the demand is pretty high, naturally.
A Mercedes is a Mercedes after all and a Mercedes SUV is just something else. With massive presence, the ML turns heads where ever it goes so it’s the right car if you want to make a quick and positive impression. The ML trumps its rivals by being a true SUV with off-road cred while similarly priced alternatives are more of a crossover. Even with terrific off-road capability, the ML performs exceptionally well on the road and the stability at high speeds can shock you pleasantly, it simply remains glued and handles like a charm. Thus to sum it up, the new M-Class is the car “for those in control”, it simply is a very well executed package difficult to fault, offering the best bits of everything.
The Mercedes M-Class impresses thoroughly with its all round quality, road presence, performance, off-road prowess and interior comfort. It’s a true-blue SUV from the three-pointed star.