The American-built M-Class sports utility vehicle blends the comfort and luxury of a Mercedes-Benz car with true off-road driving ability, clothed in a stylish purposeful design. The range has enjoyed huge success since its introduction in 1997 and over 318,000 models have been sold worldwide.
From autumn 2001, the range benefits from over 1,100 modified components, a more dynamic body style and a number of new technical innovations to boost yet further its winning formula. At the same time the ML 430 has been replaced by the more powerful ML 500, whose 5.0 litre V8 petrol engine develops 292 hp at 5,600 rpm and an astonishing 440 Nm of torque from 2,700-4,250 rpm. Resulting performance is impressive, with a 0-62 mph time of 7.7 seconds, and a top speed (where permitted) of 138 mph.
The new model completes the existing line-up of the ML 270 CDI equipped with a 2.7 litre common rail diesel engine, and the ML 350 with a 3.7 litre V6 petrol engine.
The lengthy list of standard equipment now features six airbags – including side impact window bags – alloy wheels up from 16 to 17 inch on the ML 270 CDI and ML 350, air conditioning, rear seat ISOFIX child seat mounting points, as well as Headlamp Assist which automatically activates the headlights in low light conditions.
Already bristling with advanced technology, including permanent four-wheel drive and Electronic Stability Programme (ESP), the new M-Class receives an improved version of the innovative four-wheel Electronic Traction System (4-ETS). This uses an actively controlled brake booster to brake individual wheels for improved off-road traction and greater control on extreme off road descents.
A new ‘optimum speed control’ is fitted to the 5-speed dual range automatic Page 2
transmission for the first time. This allows the driver to select the lowest available ratio, helping with improved engine braking on downward slopes, or greater acceleration when overtaking.
And an even better touring range results from a bigger fuel tank, now 83 litres on all models.
There have also been a number of exterior and interior styling revisions including new bumpers for greater low speed impact resistance, new clear glass headlights, and colour coded exterior trim. Inside, the centre console is redesigned and rear seat passengers gain their own ventilation outlets and controls.