Now comes in green
Not quite under the radar, but perhaps less overt than its SUV counterpart from Munich, and less utilitarian than pukka 4x4s like its GL stablemate, the ML quietly goes about its business of providing the peerless M-B experience in a sport-utility package. Which is to say, you get the ride, the power, the refinement, the luxury and, of course, the badge. These days, according to Mercedes-Benz, you get fewer visits to the pumps, too. After all, being able to afford a big, bluff vehicle weighing a couple of tons, with a mighty engine just a toe-twitch away, doesn’t exclude you from being cost-conscious. It’s all relative.
Now in its third generation, Merc’s awd mainstay exudes the marque’s trademark feeling of solidity and assurance. With that, it has gained a reworked chassis (incorporating selective damping) and clever drive-assist systems aimed at as involving a driving experience as possible, given that it’s an SUV.
But above all M-B is emphasising this new generation’s energy efficiency. In brief, the 2013 ML uses up to 28 per cent less fuel than its predecessor. A new model, the 250 BlueTEC 4MATIC, is said to use 6,5 litres/100 km, giving it a potential range of up to 1 500 kilometres on a full tank. It’s notable that you can now get a diesel ML solely in eco-friendly BlueTEC form with SCR emissions technology. In addition to that, says Merc, the focus is firmly on downsizing. That doesn’t necessarily apply at the top end, where it’s stomach-churning power and torque as usual in the ML 63 AMG, with its V8 engine producing 386 kW and 700 N.m.
However, the 250 uses a 150 kW/500 N.m four-cylinder, 7-speed automatic transmission with “fuel-economy” torque converter, friction-optimised bearings, a transmission oil thermal management system, low-friction axle drives, electric steering, optimised belt drive with de-coupler and the on-demand control of all ancillary components and pumps in addition to intelligent lightweight design. Its drag coefficient of 0,32 is described as setting a new best figure for this vehicle class.
Tuned driving dynamics. The optional ON&OFFROAD package features six driving modes for optimising driving dynamics and handling safety: automatic, two off-road modes and three on-road modes. The physical parts of the package are an underguard, a two-stage transfer case with reduction gear and an interaxle differential lock. Upgraded air suspension boosts ground clearance to 285 mm and fording depth to 600 mm.
Price: from R683 500 for the 250 model to R1 380 000 for the ML 63 AMG; a 6-year/120 000 km maintenance plan is standard.
Wallpapers> New on the block (September 2012 issue)