Mercedes M-class review
The Mercedes M-Class boasts stylish design, off-road ability and one of most relaxing drives on road
The latest Mercedes M-Class brings with it a four-cylinder diesel engine for the first time, adding low running costs to a practical, comfortable and relaxing package. A rival to models like the BMW X5, the M-Class places a focus on comfort over handling, but it does a great job of it. The suspension is soft and the cabin is isolated from wind, road and engine noise, making even high-speed motorway journeys incredibly relaxing. With a good range of safety systems and the biggest boot in the class, the M-Class has plenty of other things going for it, too.
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Sharply creased bodywork and elegant LED headlights mean the Mercedes M-Class doesn't look like a rugged off-roader. There's a choice of three sizes of alloy wheels too ranging from 18-inch units to 21-inch wheels. The cabin is a very special place to be with leather covering the dash and a range of inserts like an unvarnished wood making it feel worth the high price-tag.
The Mercedes M-Class is available with a 3.0-litre V6 diesel or an entry-level 2.1-litre four-cylinder diesel. The latter is quiet, smooth and punchy enough for a 0-62mph time of 9.0 seconds but for the ultimate in refinement and easy driving the V6 is the one to go far. The M's real talent is its comfortable, relaxing drive. Motorway journeys pass quickly because of the whisper-quiet cabin and extremely supple suspension. Handling isn't as sharp as a BMW X5 but off-road ability is surprisingly good.
Mercedes has pioneered many important safety technologies throughout the years so each of its cars is destined to be incredibly safe. The new M-Class is fitted with Pre-Safe to help minimise collision damage as well as ESP, ABS and a whole host of airbags. Optional systems like automatic braking, lane-keep assist and blind spot assist will all help keep you out of trouble. The new M-Class is too new to assess its reliability but its rare for a new Mercedes to prove unreliable.
Space in the cabin won’t be a problem, with huge amounts of room in the back seats for even the tallest of adults. The boot can swallow 610 litres of luggage with the rear seats up, or 2,010 litres with them down and there's a host of handy hooks and storage trays to keep things from moving around too. Mercedes doesn't currently offer a third row of seats so larger families will have to look elsewhere.
A big four-wheel drive off-roader should cost the earth to run, but Mercedes has done a great job of ensuring that's not exactly the case. The 2.1-litre four-cylinder diesel claims 44.8mpg, while the V6 model has a figure of 39.2mpg. CO2 emissions – and therefore road tax – depends on the size of alloy wheel you choose. The tax bracket itself isn't too high but going for larger wheels on the entry-level diesel can push you up an extra bracket meaning you'll have to shell out an additional £100 in the first year.