Mercedes-Benz M-Class 4x4 full 9 point review
There are no complaints about performance from either of the diesel engines. The ML350 has plenty of torque low down in the rev range, so delivers swift, easy progress. The entry-level ML250 is slower on paper, but it delivers well on the road, with brisk acceleration and relaxed high-speed cruising. If all-out pace is your thing, the turbocharged V8 petrol AMG model is blisteringly quick.
Ride & Handling
The M-Class can’t challenge a BMW X5 or Porsche Cayenne for agility or driver involvement. Instead, it focuses on comfort, and it plays this role very well. It’s particularly impressive at motorway speeds, when it feels extremely stable. The price you pay is that the body leans quite a lot in corners. The suspension also picks up on small bumps at low speeds, but it isn’t much of an issue. The ML63 AMG, however, has a far firmer, bumpier ride.
The ML350’s diesel engine is incredibly smooth, producing little more than a gentle hum in most situations. The smaller engine in the 250 CDI is a bit more clattery under acceleration, but it quickly settles to a subdued hum when cruising. In fact, the M-Class is as quiet as many luxury cars. Models with the optional glass sunroof fitted suffer from a bit of wind noise, though.
Buying & Owning
The M-Class isn't cheap to buy, but fuel economy is respectable on the diesel versions; the ML250 is the cheapest to run, but the ML350 isn’t too far behind. CO2 emissions are also reasonable, meaning tax bills shouldn't be too crazy. Resale values are pretty strong, although they don’t match those of some rival premium SUVs.
Quality & Reliability
The M-Class’s cabin certainly looks the part; the design is swish and all the gadgets give a reasonably high-tech feel. However, the quality is rather disappointing: too many switches and much of the trim has a cheap, plasticky feel. Mercedes finished a disappointing 30th in our latest reliability survey.
Safety & Security
There’s a huge list of standard safety kit, including six airbags, trailer stability assist, attention assist (which alerts the driver to fatigue) and a bonnet that springs up to protect pedestrians in an accident. All this helped the M-Class achieve a maximum five-star crash rating from Euro NCAP. Beyond that, the options list includes systems to help keep the car in its lane on the motorway and highlight pedestrians at night. An alarm and immobiliser will help deter thieves.
Behind The Wheel
No one will have any complaints about the M-Class’s driving position, because there is plenty of adjustment to both the driver’s seat and the steering wheel. The high-set position gives a good view out, and the car has an electronically operated parking brake, which frees up more space between the front seats.
Space & Practicality
There are no two ways about it: the M-Class’s cabin is huge. There’s more than enough room for six-footers up front, and tall adults will be similarly happy in the rear seats, thanks to good head- and legroom. The boot is also impressively large, and split-folding rear seats are fitted to every model.
As you would expect of such a car, the M-Class comes with lots of equipment. Entry-level SE models are our favourite, because they get an automatic gearbox, climate control, sat-nav and electrically adjustable front seats as standard. AMG Sport models add a sporty bodykit, sports seats, an electrically operated tailgate and a self-parking system. There are plenty of desirable (and expensive) options, though, including air suspension, xenon headlamps and a digital radio.