A few decisions in life are thankfully straightforward and uncomplicated. Do you want to own the best luxury SUV on Earth? The answer is simple – look no further than the Mercedes-Benz ML500. Completely revamped and re-engineered from the original M Class, the ML500 is more aerodynamic, drives faster, handles better and is very stylish. And its size could easily make you believe that “big is beautiful”.
The 4-wheel drive beauty comes equipped with a beast of an engine – a 4,9666cc 24-Valve V8 version featuring aluminum heads and body, and controlled by a Bosch Motronic ME2.8 system with port fuel injection. This helps the car develop 302bhp and a torque of 5600rpm, which translates into a top speed of 146mph, while it can zoom from standstill to 60kmph in just under 7 seconds. Improved design principles also mean that the vehicle is comparatively lightweight for its class, which gives it a good mileage – 27.2mpg on the freeway; this also means it has comparatively low emission standards – 319g/Km of CO2. There is a standard issue electronically controlled seven speed automatic gearbox, with a Direct Select shifting mechanism mounted on a column, but an optional steering wheel mounted gear-button set is also available.
As mentioned already, Mercedes-Benz has gone for substantial redesigning of looks, both outside and inside. While retaining the overall sports appearance, the ML500 now has an impressive wheel arch that aligns perfectly with the headlamp, and a swage line that gets deeper towards the rear end. The windscreen has been swept back to improve aerodynamics, with a CD value of 0.39, which further helps with the fuel economy. The suspensions have also been improved, and now feature a double wishbone front and a multiple rear linkage. An optional Airmatic air suspension, combined with an Adaptive Damping System, significantly improves smoothness, while for the cross-country drivers there is an optional suspension with dual-speed transfer system to augment the off-road ratio. This version also increases ground clearance from the standard 110mm to a high 291mm, which essentially means that you can drive your Benz across a small stream without having to wet your boots.
The improvements extend to the interior too, where the front and rear seats have an extra gap of 15mm, as compared to the older version, and increased boot space of 2050 liters if you fold up the rear seats. The ML500 comes outfitted with trademark Benz innovations such as side airbags, immobilizer and individual climate control. In addition to a four wheel ABS, there is an emergency Brake Assist, which automatically intervenes to bring the car to a halt without juddering and skidding.
There are a few disadvantages also, the most important being the absence of a third row of seats. The gear shift mechanism also needs a little getting used to, while mileage is of course a niggle, this being an SUV after all.
Still, if you wish to own a premium all-terrain vehicle that will also turn your neighbors envious, this is one Mercedes-Benz that you should go for.
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