Car tested: 2009 Mercedes ML320 CDI V6 4MATIC (W164)
Price OTR Mumbai: Rs. 63,81,990/-
We have never been a big fan of the Mercedes-Benz M-Class. Even when we saw it at the Autocar Performance Show last year, we thought it was just a lame attempt by Mercedes to enter the SUV segment or maybe we were too occupied drooling at the Mercedes C63 AMG standing next to it. However when you get behind the wheel of the Mercedes M-Class, most opinions change instantly.
Exteriors – The M-Class looks quite small in pictures and it indeed is small in person. The car is designed to look more like a soft roader than a macho off roader. The rear lights are quite small and a layman just won’t be able to make out the difference between the old M-Class and the new one. The massive tires give it massive presence. Chrome on the rear mirrors are typical of new generation Mercs and looks cool. Overall the car does look good but doesn’t have presence like the Audi Q7.
Interiors – The test car came with beige interiors. The dash is very well laid out. The gear lever is on like a indicator, you select the gear you want and off you go. The driver seat is very comfortable. The front seats are electrically operated. The multifunction steering wheel gets paddle shifts to make you feel like Lewis Hamilton or maybe Jenson Button. Analog clock in the instrument panel is very very neat. Rear view mirrors though small are heated and electrically folding (no big deal here, cars like the i20 have this feature too). The LCD screen known as the Telematic System has bluetooth connectivity for making those important calls, 6CD changer and a dialing keypad. On turning on the system it reads “Don’t let the Audio system distract you”, sweet!
Rear gets its own set of AC vents and controls. The dual zone climate control at the front keeps you chilled admist all the heat. The rear bench is superbly comfortable. Even with the front seat pushed back to a great extent, rear seat passengers won’t feel left out. Individual reading lamps which gets activated with a touch is another small but cool feature. Music quality was above average and quite decent for most. The boot is huge, as the M-Class is a 5 seater, but I wonder what kind of luggage would anyone transport in the M-Class? Maybe a tent and a barbeque griller for off road adventures.
Built Quality – Mercedes doesn’t charge you for nothing. The cars built quality is fabulous. We couldn’t find any glitch with the test car, except the noisy spare tire which seemed to have lost a screw or two. The tail gate was making some weird noise. Doors shut with a massive thud. Even after taking the car extensively off road, everything felt in place.
On the Move – Turn on the ignition and you will never realise the car has a 6 cylinder diesel engine under its hood. The cabin is superbly insulated. Select D (Drive) on the gear stalk and the massive beast moves ahead without a hitch. The ML’s height can be lowered as well as increased and even on the highest of speed breakers, it didn’t even come close to making contact. This can be done thanks to the airmatic suspension which can be operated by the touch of a button. The car is quite wide which you won’t feel when you look from the outside. However the car feels very easy to drive. With all the electronic aid on offer, you hardly feel your driving anything bigger than a hatchback.
Off-Roading – We never thought the ML320 would be so capable off road. We took it to slush, grass, mud, water and it came out shinning bright. The 4MATIC system is smart. On any terrain the ESP kicks in ensuring you never spin. We tried our level best to do a 360 on slippery grass but the ESP just wouldn’t let us. A big thumbs up here.
Climbing steep inclines is like a cake walk for the M-Class. Just click a few buttons (read Sports Mode) and the car spins its wheels, adjusts power accordingly and voila you are there. Even in the most slushy mud filled terrain with rain pouring the ML did not miss a beat and never did it disappoint us. This is by no means a soft roader. It can off road well, very well.
Ride, Handling and Braking – Ride quality of the M-Class even on massive 19inch wheels is superb. The car never goes over bumps, it just glides over them. Bump, what bump? The sports Handling is very good too for a car of this size and weight. ESP never lets you feel you will loose grip, even though you just might. Braking is the strongest part of this car. The massive 4 wheel discs are a absolute joy to use. Any speed, brake hard, you loose your face. You stop and put your face back on and move on. Such is the force of the brakes of the ML.
Performance – The ML320 CDI never felt like a diesel. In auto mode with comfort mode activated the car never goes in first gear. But when you switch to manual mode by tapping the left paddle for two seconds all hell brakes loose. The gigantic 535Nm of torque is just insane. It never lets you feel you are driving a car which weights in excess of 2 tons. Reaching 160kmph in the ML is a breeze. After that the car looses a bit of steam and we ran out of empty roads. The engine is so refined and well configured, it reaches all the way to the red line at 5000rpm and never feels out of breath.
Conclusion – The Mercedes M-Class is a terrific off-roader. It has a go anywhere attitude, rides smoothly on tarmac and is terrifically comfortable. However 90% buyers will use it on the road rather than off it. Still the ML320 makes a very strong point for itself. With the supreme ride, comfortable seats, big boot and refined diesel engine the M-Class is a terrific car. But at 63 big ones, it doesn’t come cheap.
- Refined Diesel
- Off-Roading Ability
- Ride Quality
- Interior devoid of any noise
- Built Quality
- Small mirrors
- Doesn’t look the part
- Noisy air vents at high blower speeds
- Service costs
Summing it up : –
Mercedes ML320 CDI 4MATIC Specifications : –
- Engine: 2987cc, V6
- Power: 234HP @ 3800rpm
- Torque: 535Nm @ 1600-2400rpm
- Transmission: 7G-TRONIC Auto
- Drive: All Wheel Drive 4MATIC
- Top Speed: 220kmph (est)
- 0-100kmph: 11.50 seconds (est)
- Fuel Consumption: 7-8 kmpl (City), 9-10 kmpl (highway)
- Fuel Type: Diesel
- Suspension: Coil springs, single-tube gas-filled shock absorbers (Front), Coil springs, single-tube gas-filled shock absorbers (Rear)
- Tires: 255/50/19 Tubeless Radials
- Brakes: Internally ventilated discs (Front), Discs (Rear), ABS, BAS
- Safety: ABS, BAS, Six Airbags, TCS, ESP, Pre-Safe, Neck-Pro, Parktronic, Fuel Cut-Off
- EURO NCAP Rating: (5 Star)
Mercedes ML320 CDI 4MATIC Dimensions : –
- Overall length x width x height: 4781mm X 1911mm X 1815mm
- Wheelbase: 2915mm
- Turning Radius: 5.8m
- Ground clearance: 223mm
- Boot Volume: 833 liters
- Fuel Tank Capacity: 95 litres
- Kerb Weight: 2185kgs
Official Website – Mercedes M-Class