Mercedes ML 250 CDI

2 Sep, 2011 7:16pm Luke Madden

Eco diesel version of the new Mercedes ML lives up to the SUV’s prestige billing


When we last drove the M-Class in July, Mercedes was still debating whether to bring the ML 250 CDI to our shores. But bosses have seen sense, and it’s a great addition to the range. It boasts the refinement of a V6 diesel with improved fuel economy and much lower running costs. It could do with a little extra punch, but this is still the engine to go for.
Meet the big SUV with small bills. In an effort to undercut the running costs of its BMW X5 rival, Mercedes has introduced a frugal four-cylinder turbodiesel to the new M-Class line-up – and it will go on sale next April.

The super-economical ML 250 CDI joins the revised 3.0-litre V6 diesel ML 350 CDI in the range. The newcomer has a 2.1-litre powerplant, with a healthy 201bhp power output and 500Nm of torque. That matches the punch of the previous entry-level V6 model – an impressive feat. Even better is the fact that the ML 250 CDI is the most frugal car in its class, with fuel economy of 48mpg and CO2 emissions of 158g/km.

But can it cope on the move? Four-cylinder units are generally noisier and rougher than their V6 counterparts, yet Mercedes has done a fantastic job of muting the diesel engine. Motorway driving is also a relaxing affair, thanks to an impressive absence of wind noise and tyre roar.

The ride is very comfortable, especially with the optional air-suspension. Body roll is kept in check reasonably well, too. The M-Class doesn’t have the agility or steering precision of an X5, but it’s much more enjoyable to drive than its predecessor, and still covers great distances in a very relaxed manner – as a large Mercedes should.

Performance isn’t staggering, with 0-62mph taking 9.0 seconds, but the only time you really notice a slight lack of shove is when you try to overtake at high speeds – the ML 250 CDI needs more time to gather momentum than the more powerful ML 350 version.

Off-road ability is great, though, and Mercedes offers a hill descent system, lockable differentials and several traction settings as part of an option pack. We tried a route full of steep inclines, loose rock, muddy tracks and deep water, yet the four-wheel-drive M-Class didn’t struggle once.

Cabin quality was already excellent in the previous version, but this new generation is another step forward. The leather-covered dash and unvarnished wood are the highlights of a 
luxurious and solid interior.

Space won’t be a problem, either, with huge amounts of room for all occupants. The boot can swallow 610 litres of luggage with the rear seats up, or 2,010 litres with them down. 

Disqus - noscript

It looks more 'squared off' , and a better looking version in my opinion. Decent fuel economy too. Would love to see a head to head with this new M class, X5 and the Touareg sometime in the future??

Does it say ML350 on the tailgate?

'm not interested in MB especially, but I am interested in well written informative tests, which this isn't. 0-60 accelleration is irrelavant, far more interesting is real world traffic, and in gear responses, is it not?. 9 seconds to 62 seems thoroughly staggering for a 4wheel drive behometh to me. The modern (so called) tester doesn't seem to remember the times when a v12 petrol engined s class MB was very little quicker, and drank 4 times as much fuel. That puts into context the staggering improvements made to the modern 4 cylinder diesel to me - if not to the 'tester'

Key specs

* Price: £42,000 (est)
* Engine: 2.1-litre 4cyl diesel
* Power/torque: 201bhp/500Nm  
* Transmission: Seven-speed automatic, four-wheel drive
* 0-62mph: 9.0 seconds
* Top speed: 130mph
* Economy: 48mpg 
* CO2: 158g/km
* Equipment: Climate control, leather upholstery, sat-nav, alloy wheels, Bluetooth, adaptive suspension
* On sale: April 2012