GONE are the days when big SUVs were looked upon with disdain because of their gas-guzzling image and notoriously high CO2 emissions.
The latest breed of off-roaders, with their modern diesel engines and carboncutting technologies, have significantly cleaned up their act — and Mercedes Benz’s new M Class is a shining example of the attention manufacturers are now paying to keeping their consciences clear.
From the outside the lastest line up of the ML-series of off-roaders has evolved nicely. Like most models in the Mercedes stable, it’s lost its curvy, soft lines over the years and it now looks aggressive and purposeful and there’s plenty of nods to Mercedes’ current handsome design ethos if you look closely.
Inside you’re quickly reminded that this sizeable car is aimed at the luxury end of the market. Not that you’d expect anything else from a vehicle bearing the three-pointed star, but the new M Class moves the game on from its previous models—which were by no means rough and ready.
Designers have thought carefully about the details in this car. It’s good to see the current design direction has been honed and refined in this model and details that haven’t quite cut the mustard in previous models —such as the speed control stalk being in the wrong place — have now been sorted.
While it’s a leap forward in style, luxury and satisfaction, it’s also making a jump in its efficiency. Although it has a 258bhp 3.0V6 diesel lump, its CO2 emmissions weigh in at a meagre 189g/km.
What’s more, this is one of the current great diesel engines. It’s beautifully refined, power delivery is effortless and it’s remarkably efficient.
The other diesel option in the range is also well worth a look. Less refined, but with as much power as you’ll need and impressive torque, the 2.1 litre ML250 beats its rivals for efficiency without any significant sacrifices.
There’s actually very little to dislike about the latest M Class. While it doesn’t quite handle as well as the BMW X5 and while its £45,000 starting price puts it into a very premium sector of the market, there’s plenty of standard kit and — with the right spec—it can even make a competent off-roader.
And the fact that all this refinement, space and pace can be wrapped up in a vehicle that’s as efficient as an average family saloon car makes this a very attractive prospect.