As you observed by reading the title of this post, we tested today the new generation Mercedes-Benz M-class. Our tested model was the 2012 ML 350 BlueTEC 4Matic, which is powered by a diesel engine. And in the following text, we’ll go through the everyday-use facilities, the performance data, we’ll take an overall look at the general features of the ML 350, and at its new design. So, that further do, let’s begin the review.
Well, I don’t like to begin a review with a negative point, but it’s today’s case. However, I want to mention that the following fact touches every Mercedes (at least in Canada, I don’t know if it applies in other countries), and not only the ML. The fact is that the maintenance fees are astronomical, it doesn’t even make sense. I mean, a simple routine check (oil change, etc.) that you get when your car is around 15,000 km costs like 625 bucks! And that’s for the “A” check, because I heard that the “B” one is around 1100 dollars! I’m not making a bad publicity for Mercedes-Benz, but that would be enough for me to buy another car of another brand, considering that BMW and Audi offer the maintenance in their warranty plans.
That said, I don’t think there are much more problems in the new generation M-Class. Indeed, when you’re sitting in the vehicle, you feel like you’re in a living room. The cockpit is really quiet, and the insulation is very good, even with the sun roof. Also, the seats are very comfortable, which means you can have long journeys and be still comfortable. Of course, comfort is Mercedes’ signature, but, I’m six feet tall and the headrest position in the front seats made me mad a little, because I had to keep it as low as possible to be comfortable, and I don’t think that’s very safe if you have an accident. However, there’s a footrest for the driver, and that’s an important thing, because not every luxury cars have one even if they should.
In the back, there are plenty of headroom and legroom, and the access to the back is easy, as expected for a SUV. A major comfort point that I’d like to mention here is the fact that the rear seat backrest tilts (60/40), so the rear occupants can be almost as comfortable as the front passengers. In my opinion, this fact is a big plus for the M-class, in its category. For an everyday use, Mercedes’ ML 350 is ideal for a lot of reasons, including the fact that there are plenty of storage pockets and compartments in the vehicle, so much that you could possibly lose things.
Honestly, I was very surprised by the diesel-powered engine. It is much more performant than what I thought. This 3.0-liter V6 turbocharged engine delivers 240 hp and a 0 to 100 km/h (0-60 mph) acceleration in about 8.3 seconds. Plus it has 455 lb-ft of torque @ 1600 – 2400 r/min. This is particularly what makes the ML 350 BlueTEC accelerate this fast, considering the size of the vehicle and the 240 hp engine. For the 7G-Tronic gearbox, I think Mercedes needs to upgrade it to 8 speeds. The 7-speed does work well, but BMW is actually taking more market with its 8-speed gearbox.
To come back to the engine, the accelerations are great when you start from 0. But, when you’re at let’s say 60 km/h and you accelerate, it takes more time, simply because diesel engines are made of the sort. And the BlueTEC technology is so advanced in terms of efficiency that if we didn’t tell our passengers that a diesel engine was under the hood, they wouldn’t have notice it. BlueTEC is quiet, and fuel efficient, so why to spend extra money on gasoline? Indeed, we were able to roll about 750-850 km with a full tank (and we weren’t driving too soft, which means we pushed the car to its limits).
On the driving side, the electric steering wheel is very well calibrated, giving more feeling to the driver. It is very sharp in tight turns and the variable assistance makes the steering wheel more rigid at high speed. However, the brake pedal is quite soft, and I didn’t feel secure about it, even tough the brakes were very good and the car did brake very well.
Also, the Harman/Kardon Logic 7 stereo sound system that figured in our M-class was simply amazing, it sounded just like a recording studio. So, if you’re a music lover, you would be entirely satisfied on this point with the ML. For commodity, the ML 350 did very well on a point, which is versatility. Indeed, when you lift the tailgate, there’s a small button that will lock the tailgate in your chosen position, so if you’re very small or very tall, you can set the tailgate to stop opening lower or higher.
The controls are very well displayed in the 2012 M-class, and also well balanced. After a couple of minutes only, you can easily understand all the commands in the car, and learn how to use them. However, in a car of this price range, I expected to find blind spots detectors. Our vehicle was equipped with Command, Mercedes’ multimedia interface and it was pretty easy to use.
Fr the general look of the car, to be honest, when I first saw it at its release, I said to myself: Daimler got to be joking, did they really replace the almost perfect last generation ML for this? But after main reflections and observations, I finally think that the new M-Class is pretty good looking. And I have to admit that the outgoing ML needed some changes. I loved the last ML-class, and I now love the new M-class.
- Controls disposition
- Good visibility
- Fast 0-100 km/h accelerations
- Great insulation
- High maintenance fees
- Soft brake pedal
You can purchase a 2012 ML 350 BlueTEC 4Matic for $59,000 (MSRP). It is quite high, in my opinion, but overall, the ML BlueTEC is a very good car, mixing with taste luxury, style, performance and efficiency. The ride comfort of this particular vehicle is good, because of the insulation, but the suspension is rigid like a normal SUV, so it may be nasty when your rolling in city.
Our global appreciation is: 7.5/10
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