This is the new Mercedes M-class. Evolutionary styling hides a range of new engines, including a four-cylinder diesel as Mercedes tries to give its American-made SUV a dose of increased efficiency.
Mercedes M-class: design and interior
Mercedes wasn't tempted to radically reshape the M-class for 2011. The new car retains the traditional two-box SUV design with wrap-around rear window which has been a feature of the M-class since it first appeared in 1997. Up front you'll notice LED daytime running lights, a bolder interpretation of the M-class grille, sharper headlights and a chrome-effect undertray in the front bumper. LEDs find their way into the tail-lights too, and the overall result is a slightly sharper, somewhat sleeker M-class.
Inside there's more interior width (35mm in front, 24mm in the rear) and a new dashboard with a more prominent location for the COMAND multimedia system screen. But only seating for five. Compared with the current M-class, the new interior gains a much larger decorative trim element stretching across the front of the dashboard and wrapping into the doors. Owners can specify four different wood veneer finishes, or aluminium. MB-Tex fans may be consoled by the fact that the M-class can be ordered with 'Artico Man-made Leather' in addition to a variety of leather and cloth trim combinations.
Mercedes M-class: engines and technology
Mainstay engine of the new Mercedes M-class in the UK will be the 350CDI BlueTec, a twin-turbodiesel V6 offering 254bhp and 457 lb ft of torque. Mercedes claims 0-62 in 7.4 seconds and a top speed of 139mph for the ML350. The UK will also get that friend of the petrol pump, the ML63 AMG, which receives the downsized 5.5-litre twin-turbo V8.
But the headline powertrain at launch is fitted to the ML250, which hosts a 2.1-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel under the bonnet. 201bhp and 369 lb ft of torque provide a 9.0 second cruise to 62mph, but compensate with a claimed 47mpg and 158g/km of CO2. All models come with four wheel drive and a seven-speed automatic transmission.
On the options list are adaptive dampers, active rollbars, a dedicated off-road driving package, 93 litre long-range fuel tank and Mercedes' range of driver aids including radar cruise control, night vision and brake assist.
The new Mercedes M-class will go on sale in the UK in spring 2012.
>>Your next new family wagon, or just more Chelsea tractor clutter at the school gates? Share your thoughts on the M-class in the comments section
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