The new Merc ML – third time’s a charm
The anticipated third generation M-Class was launched to the local market this week, and Leisure Wheels was there to test it. Changes from the previous generation include alleged improvements in fuel consumption, handling and chassis layout. The biggest change comes in the form of the new entry level model. Where the diesel range previously started with the 350 BlueTec, you can now get a ML 250 BlueTec. The latter – which is an obvious bid to appease those watching the monthly budget – reportedly uses only 6,5 litres /100km on average. Launches are unreliable measures of fuel consumption, as several individuals will drive the same vehicle at different speeds, and trip computers become the only source of information.
That said, we look forward to testing the BlueTec more thoroughly, as 6,5 litres is a steep claim for a mid-level SUV. What was evident, however, was that the 150kW produced by this baby-ML is far more impressive than it sounds. Add to this 500Nm of torque, and this 2,2 litre diesel gets to the 100km mark from standstill in only 9 seconds. With a top speed of 210 km/h (manufacturer’s claims), it’s anything but the runt of the litter.
For those wanting a little bit more, however, the 350 BlueTec is still available with its 190kW of power and 620Nm of torque. As with all other derivatives, it’s equipped with an effortless and smooth seven-speed automatic gearbox and gets to the hundred metre mark in 7,4 seconds. Top speed is reportedly 224 km/h, despite which consumption is claimed at a low 7,4 litres/100km.
The petrol range includes the 4Matic BlueEfficiency 350 and 500 (the latter wasn’t available yet at the launch, and will hopefully be here within the next month or so). The V6 350 produces 22kW and 370Nm of torque, and has a reported fuel consumption of 8,8 litres/100km. The 500 sports the V8 engine with direct injection, 300kW and 600Nm of torque.
At the top of the range sits the highly popular ML 63 AMG with its tuned up V8 engine producing 386kW of power and an awe-inspiring 700Nm of torque.
Off-road improvements include the first steel suspension with selective damping for the ML. Read our motoring scribe’s full review of the new M-Class in an upcoming issue of the magazine.
ML 250 BlueTec 4Matic – R683 500
ML 350 BlueTec 4Matic – R778 000
ML 350 4Matic BlueEfficiency – R752 000
ML 500 4Matic BlueEfficiency – R935 900
ML 63 AMG – R1 380 000
The M-Class range comes standard with a six-year or 120 000km MobiloDrive maintenance plan.