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Merc's new ML: images and specs

2011-06-08 09:40

THREE-STAR SUV: Although it’s bigger, clever styling has managed to make Merc’s new ML look sleeker and compact. Image gallery

Mercedes-Benz has revealed images and details of its new M-Class SUV.

Codenamed W166, it’s the third incarnation of Mercedes-Benz’s ML and features a host of highly efficient engines.

It also shares a platform with Jeep's Grand Cherokee.


Dimensionally the new ML is 4.8m bumper-to-bumper, 1.92m across and 1.79m tall; making it 24mm longer, 16mm wider and 19mm lower than the vehicle it replaces.

Styling elements have been harmonised to make the new ML appear compact. Smaller headlights (with greater sheetmetal volume between the clusters and grille), new taillights and subtle resurfacing across the bonnet and along the flanks render a handsome evolution of the ML-design.

Inside, Mercedes-Benz’s Comand navigation and infotainment system gains internet browsing capability, whilst a new instrument cluster (with new dial and font design) is fronted by Merc’s redesigned four-spoke steering wheel. It appears Mercedes-Benz has finally abandoned the unpopular foot-operated parking brake too, as it is not visible in any of media images.

Mercedes-Benz will be offering ML customers the option of a high-end (and appropriately priced) optional Harman Kardon Logic 7 audio system, too.

A collection of aluminium and four different grades of wood can be chosen as cabin trim, whilst material choices include microfibre, artificial leather, nappa leather and genuine leather.


Mechanically, the third-generation ML majors on power- and drivetrain efficiency.

The confirmed engine range is three units strong; two turbodiesels and a petrol V6. Entry-level is the ML250 Bluetech, powered by a 2.1-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel good for 150kW and 500Nm. Next up is the ML350 Bluetec, featuring an upgraded version of Merc’s journeyman 3-litre V6 turbodiesel, producing 189kW and 620Nm.

Customers preferring petrol power can option the ML350 BlueEfficieny which uses Merc’s new direct-injection 3.5-litre V6, good for 225kW and 370Nm.

All three powertrains drive via a seven-speed automatic transmission, with Merc quoting some startling economy figures. The ML250 is claimed to consume only 6-litres/100km in the regular driving cycle and the ML350 diesel 8-litres/100km.

SENSIBLE SUV: Captured on location in Namibia, new ML has off-road ability - for those owners not afraid of ding-repair bills…

Fans of the (rather) mad AMG-badged ML63 will be heartened to know that the performance model has not been discontinued, though it is not expected to debut with the rest of the ML range as the global roll-out commences in the third quarter of 2011.

The new ML63 will see its naturally-aspirated 6.2-litre V8 replaced by Affalterbach’s new twin-turbo 5.5-litre V8 though, offering similar performance thanks to 400kW of peak power.

Merc is also said to be working on a hybrid ML. Denoted by its ML300 nomenclature, it's buoyed by 14kW of electric drive power in addition to the ML250’s 2.1-litre turbodiesel powertrain, reducing fuel consumption to an amazing 5.2-litres/100km.

Riding on a similar platform to the latest Jeep Grand Cherokee, the third-generation ML features standard-fit selective damping, with an optional Airmatic suspension upgrade adding adaptive damping and self-levelling roll stabilisation for an outstanding blend of high-speed stability and ride comfort.

With the ML rolling low-resistance tyres (a key feature enabling the new SUV's very low fuel consumption) ultimate mechanical grip levels should be lower too, requiring earlier driver aid intervention from the on-board stability systems.

Off-road, the ML’s ability will vary greatly depending on the wheel size choice (options range from 17- to 21-inches) and whether owners specify the On&Offroad package, which adds selectable transmission drive modes (Sand/Mud, Sport, Auto, Snow 'n Rock) adjusting the throttle sensitivity, transmission shift points and traction control interplay to ensure optional traction.

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