New Mercedes M-Class at top of Class

The Mercedes M-Class needs no introduction, as it is now a relatively familiar sight on our roads. Originally launched back in 1998 it has enjoyed reasonable sales success worldwide.

The Mercedes M-Class needs no introduction, as it is now a relatively familiar sight on our roads. Originally launched back in 1998 it has enjoyed reasonable sales success worldwide.

By Hugh Maguire.

There is now an all new M-Class and it would seem that it is now a car that is more than a match for the latest opposition. My test car is the M-Class 250 BlueTec, 4-MATIC, powered by a 2.1 litre diesel.

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First Impressions.

They have really managed to get the style of this one right. While it’s very much a Mercedes it is sleek and purposeful looking. My test car was finished in metallic bronze and with the nice chrome details, including the roof rails and rear tailgate and big attractive alloy wheels it really looked very smart indeed.

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Behind The Wheel.

The cabin is typically Mercedes, functional, and somewhat minimalist in its style. The driver gets four instruments, two large ones for speedo and revs with smaller instruments for fuel and temperature within the same dial, all housed in a neatly shaped instrument binnacle. The large open expanse of dashboard houses the centre console with the heating, ventilation and audio controls. It all looks very well and manages to feel more opulent than its rivals. There are plenty of storage areas with large door pockets, a decent sized glove box and a very handy centre storage box between both front seats.

The driving position is perfect and standard equipment includes a host of safety features with multiple airbags, ABS, EBD, ASR, ESP, 4 ETS, BAS, DSR (Downhill Speed Regulation) permanent four wheel drive, (4-MATIC) 7G-Tronic auto transmission, automatic climate control, a super audio system with 6 CD changer, (MP-3 Compatible) the usual electric windows, locking and so forth, an on-board computer and multifunction steering wheel with controls for, audio system and if fitted the car phone. I must say it all feels very well designed and ergonomically it’s just about perfect. Build quality is as you would expect beyond reproach.

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Performance.

The 2.1 litre, 150KW turbo diesel is very impressive indeed. Mercedes make very good high power engines and this diesel is no exception. This big machine, which weighs in just over 2 tonnes, will go from zero to 100km/h in around 9.0 seconds and top speed is claimed to be 210 km/h.

The 7-speed G-Tronic auto gearbox is smooth and with well-chosen ratios it gets the very best from the engines torque capabilities.

This diesel is very refined and performs very well. Economy is not too bad with the on-board computer claiming a test average of 8.9 litres per 100km.

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Road Behaviour.

The suspension set-up in the New M-Class is a good mix between a smooth ride for comfort yet firm enough to make the car feel reasonably nimble, the great upside of that set-up is the agile handling and greatly reduced body roll. The M-Class delivers from a driver’s point of view though it is probably not quite as dynamic as say the BMW X-5. The steering is nicely weighted giving plenty of driver feedback, the brakes are powerful and the car feels really sure-footed whether on wet or dry roads.

Accommodation is very good with plenty of leg and headroom both front and rear. I should mention that adaptive air suspension is available as an optional extra.

The load area is easily accessed via the large rear tailgate.

a brief sortie off-road demonstrated that the new M-Class is pretty capable here to with excellent traction even on very slippery slopes.

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Verdict.

The new M-Class certainly delivers the goods. It looks very well indeed, the levels of standard equipment are very good, the 2.1 litre turbo diesel is excellent and as you would expect the whole car is beautifully built.

The new M-Class feels good around you, it feels special and that should be part of the ownership experience when you spend upwards of €71,000 9 the star price for one) on a car.

My test car weighs in at a hefty €85,220.

The new M-Class is now a serious rival to the likes of the X-5, Audi Q7 or a VW Touareg and gets my highest recommendation.