The new Mercedes-Benz M-Class, which went on sale on 15 September, is now available to order in ML 280 CDI guise. Deliveries of the entry level model begin in April 2006- giving two refined diesel-powered models in the range.

The new M-Class sets high standards in off-road luxury and specification. Standard equipment levels on the ML 280 CDI, ML 320 CDI and ML 350 include:

  • 7G-TRONIC – seven-speed automatic transmission
  • Speed-sensitive Parameter power-assisted steering
  • SPEEDTRONIC cruise control with speed limiter
  • Permanent four-wheel drive
  • ABS, Offroad ABS, ASR, BAS, DSR Downhill Speed Regulator, ESP®, 4-ETS
  • Electrically operated and heated folding door mirrors
  • Automatic climate control
  • All-round electric windows
  • Partial electric front seats (height, backrest angle)
  • Eight-speaker CD audio system
  • Height and reach adjustable steering column
  • Six airbags
  • PRE-SAFE® system for anticipatory occupant protection
  • Front Neck-Pro headrests

The simplified range of trim levels means the entry level M-Class comes with a high level of specification as standard. The SE and Sport upgrades offer significant value for money, adding a host of extras to suit the chosen trim.

Customers can upgrade to SE model specification for £2,750. Extra equipment in addition to the standard model includes:

  • Metallic paint
  • Electrically adjustable front seats with leather upholstery
  • Colour coded door handles with chrome trim
  • Side rubbing strips with chrome trim
  • Radiator grille in black and chrome
  • Rear bumper trim with scratch protection
  • Chrome, rectangular tailpipes
  • Burr walnut interior trim with chrome accents
  • Interior lighting package

The Sport model upgrade also costs £2,750 and in addition to the standard model, the package includes:

  • 19in 5-spoke alloy wheels with 225/50 R19 tyres
  • Metallic paint
  • Electrically adjustable front Sports seats with Alcantara/ARTICO upholstery
  • Colour coded door handles with chrome trim
  • Side rubbing strips with chrome trim
  • Radiator grille in black and chrome
  • Rear bumper trim with scratch protection
  • Chrome, rectangular tailpipes
  • Tinted rear light clusters
  • Interior lighting package
  • Black aluminium interior trim
  • Stainless steel sports pedals with rubber studs
  • Sports instrument cluster

Customers opting for the five-litre ML 500 get either SE or SPORT trim levels as standard. In addition to the items previously mentioned, the ML 500 SE adds: 18″ five-spoke alloy wheels with 255/55 R18 tyres; rain-sensing wipers; automatically-dimming driver’s side and interior mirrors; front multi-contour seats and luxury four-zone climate control.  The ML 500 Sport also includes these items whilst retaining its 19″ wheels.

With state-of-the-art technology such as three powerful new engines, the standard-fitted seven-speed automatic transmission 7G-TRONIC, the now even more effective four-wheel drive system 4-ETS, AIRMATIC air suspension (£1,265) and the anticipatory occupant protection system PRE-SAFE®, the M-Class is set to reaffirm the off-roader’s leading position in the fast-growing market segment which Mercedes-Benz created with the original M-Class in 1997.

You need look no further than the design of the new M-Class, with its beguiling blend of heavily contoured surfaces and taut lines, to admire the majestic character of the second-generation off-roader. The swept-back windscreen, striking front wings and rising shoulder line of the new car set the unashamedly sporting tone, a theme developed by the proportions of the body.

Compared to the outgoing model, the new M-Class is 150 mm longer (now 4780 mm), 71 mm wider (now 1911 mm) and 5 mm lower (now 1815 mm with roof rails) than its predecessor. The wheelbase has grown by 95 mm to 2915 mm.

Unparalleled safety is fitted as standard to the new M-Class. A number of components make the M-Class one of the safest in its segment – PRE-SAFE®, NECK-PRO active head restraints, ABS, ESPÒ (proven by independent research to reduce accidents involving Mercedes-Benz vehicles by 30 per cent), two-stage airbags (for the driver and front passenger), front sidebags and windowbags, as well as belt tensioners and belt force limiters for all seats.

Multi-award-winning PRE-SAFE® technology provides a reflex response to critical driving situations where an accident threatens to occur. The system prepares the car and its occupants for an impending collision by tightening the driver and front passenger seatbelts, bringing the front seats into a more favourable position and closing the sunroof if a rollover threatens.

The diesel engine which has seen action in the C-Class, CLK-Class, CLS-Class and E-Class will make a further appearance within the new M-Class. The latest generation V6 diesel engine will power the off-roader in two formats – ML 320 CDI and ML 280 CDI. The first is available now, whilst the latter arrives in UK showrooms from April 2006.

The third-generation common-rail direct injection diesel engines uses piezo injectors. The unit in the ML 320 CDI delivers 224 hp and has 510 Nm from just 1600 rpm – the new ML 280 CDI serves up 190 hp and 440 Nm. The outputs are matched with economy, returning 28.8 mpg in both the 280 CDI and the 320 CDI. These figures result in one of the most economical off-roaders in its class – even those powered with hybrid technology.

Having first been installed in the SLK-Class Roadster, the M272 V6 engine is now fitted to the M-Class. The new ML 350 offers 272 hp and 350 Nm of torque. For now, the range topper is the ML 500 using a re-worked version of the Mercedes-Benz M-Class V8 engine. These modifications yield an extra 14 hp compared to the outgoing model giving 306 hp and 460 Nm.

Summer 2006 will see the launch of the ultimate performance variant in the UK – the ML 63 AMG. Using the new AMG engine – the first engine completely designed and built by AMG – the M-Class will bring a new dimension of power to the sector. The new V8 is the world’s most powerful naturally-aspirated eight-cylinder engine in regular production with 510 hp and 630 Nm.

The new M-Class engines are mated to the unique 7G-TRONIC transmission as standard. The seven-speed ‘box is operated via a style of new gear selector lever positioned close to the steering wheel – named DIRECT SELECT, this lever can also be seen on the new R-Class and S-Class. Additional steering-wheel gearshift paddles enable the driver to glide manually through the seven gears.

Mercedes-Benz has taken the permanent four-wheel drive and 4ETS traction systems to the next level by incorporating additional functions such as a Downhill Speed Regulation (DSR), Start-Off Assist, which holds the car still when stopped on gradients; and the off-road ABS system.

M-Class can also be ordered with two different variants of the four-wheel drive system: the basic version will tackle most day-to-day off-road necessities whilst an all new off-road package, Off-Road Pro, is available as an option. This enables the M-Class to master even the toughest routes across rough terrain. Features include a two-speed transfer case with an off-road ratio, manually or automatically selectable differential locks (100 per cent) between the front and rear axle and on the rear axle, and a modified version of the AIRMATIC air suspension system tailored to off-road driving.

This system raises the standard ground clearance by 110 mm to as much as 291 mm and the vehicle’s fording depth to a maximum of 600 mm. The Off-Road Pro Package is available as an option at £1,320, and can be fitted to cars with AIRMATIC air suspension.

The new M-Class also boasts exceptional long-term quality – another Mercedes hallmark. As well as a fully galvanised body, structural areas subjected to high stresses are cavity-sealed, and folds are seam-sealed. Large plastic underbody panels eliminate the necessity for conventional PVC undersealing.

Externally, standard specification includes a new type of paint finish using nano-technology, which made its production debut on Mercedes-Benz vehicles. Offering improved scratch resistance compared to conventional paint finishes, nano-particle clearcoat also provides an enhanced sheen.

The interior of the new M-Class also exhibits typical Mercedes quality, thanks to higher-quality materials, more pleasant touch and feel characteristics and significantly improved spaciousness for all the vehicle’s passengers. For example, at 880 mm, the distance between the front and rear seats is 15 mm greater than that in the outgoing model, achieving a level more familiar in a luxury-class saloon.

Knee-room for the rear passengers has been increased by 35 mm and elbow width by 32 mm. M-Class customers can select the seats for their new off-roader to suit their personal comfort requirements. In addition to the standard-fitted front seats with electrically adjustable height, backrest and cushion angle, sports seats with special backrest contours can also be specified.

The Memory Package can enhance seating comfort by adding memory functions and electric fully-adjustable seats, steering column and mirrors for £660; whilst the Comfort Pack includes automatically dimming interior rear view and driver’s side door mirror, heated windscreen washer system and rain sensing wipers for £460 (£140 on ML 500 SE and Sport).

The cushions and backrests of the rear seats are split 60:40 and can be folded down. Removable cushions can be ordered as part of the Easy-Pack fixing kit, creating a level loading surface stretching 2.1 metres in length through the rear of the car. The maximum load capacity is 2050 litres (VDA measuring method).

The M-Class is available with a significant list of options, including: the new multi-zone Luxury Climate Control, PARKTRONIC parking aid (£605), COMAND audio and European wide DVD navigation system (£1,760), Bi-xenon headlamps with Active Light System, cornering light function (£1,100), Easy-pack fixing kit first seen on the E-Class Estate (£210) and electrically-operated tailgate (£400).

With the launch of the M-Class in 1997 Mercedes-Benz created the luxury SUV – now the fastest growing segment of the motor industry. Many others followed and experts predict a double-digit percentage segment increase over the coming years.

The original M-Class combined real off-road a
bility with design, functionality and safety. And the ML 55 AMG brought a new definition to performance.

Globally, over 620,000 M-Class have been sold with more than 38,000 of those in the UK. The original model has developed and the arrival of the new M-Class opens a new chapter in this success story.

As with every Mercedes-Benz, it is possible for the customer to collect their new M-Class from the company’s Stuttgart factory headquarters at no extra cost. Rather than paying for delivery to the UK, the delivery charge is exchanged for a flight, overnight accommodation and a return ferry (or tunnel) ticket. Included is a guided tour around the Mercedes-Benz manufacturing facility at Sindelfingen, giving a detailed impression of the similar M-Class plant in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA.

Every new M-Class comes with a UK based off-road experience. This gives new owners the chance to sample an M-Class of the same, or similar, specification under tuition in the harshest of off-road conditions. Owners will learn just what their new vehicle is capable of during a day of extreme off-roading where they learn to push the M-Class, and themselves, to the limit in the company of experts.

Like other Mercedes passenger cars, the M-Class also comes with a three year unlimited mileage warranty and the incredible 30-year MobiloLife mobility, anti-corrosion and breakdown guarantee.