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First look: Mercedes-Benz massages M-class

Back in black: Revised M-class features new headlights and bumpers.

Upgraded Mercedes-Benz SUV to arrive here in the third quarter of 2008

18 Mar 2008

SUBTLE front-end styling changes have been introduced to the Mercedes-Benz M-class SUV, including the high-performance ML63 AMG.

Stepped headlights and a reshaped opening under the main grille are the most noticeable changes to the revised front end while the actual radiator grilles are larger but look similar to the current model.

At the rear, the tail-lights have a smoked glass look and the bumper now has integrated reflector strips that Mercedes says emphasises the car’s width.

The interior sports a new two-tone colour scheme, refined materials and a new four-spoke steering wheel, while occupant safety levels have been further improved by fitting Mercedes’ acclaimed ‘anticipatory’ active headrests as standard equipment across the range.

4 center imageLeft: ML420 CDI and ML63 AMG.

Benz has also addressed fuel economy, reducing consumption by an average of 0.4L/100 kilometres compared with the outgoing models.

The ML63 AMG, which is still powered by a 375kW V8 engine, gets chunky new front and rear air dams and a chromed (simulated) underguard, as well as an enlarged radiator grille.

Riding on new 17-to-20-inch alloys, regular M-class models continue with a range of five V6 and V8 diesel and petrol engines ranging in power from 140kW to 285kW, all linked to a standard seven-speed automatic transmission.

Since the second-generation M-Class was launched in April 2005, some 300,000 units have been sold, making it one of the most successful vehicles in the rapidly growing SUV market.

Inside the upgraded interior, passengers sit in revised seats and the driver is faced with a new four-spoke steering wheel with standard shift paddles, while a new generation of telematics provides numerous improvements, including integrated iPod connection allowing control from the steering wheel and displays on the instrument panel and the colour centre console display.

And audiophiles can select an optional Harman Kardon surround-sound package that offers some 12 speakers with a total output of 610 Watts. Facelifted M-class models will arrive in Australia in the third quarter.

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