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New models - Mercedes-Benz - M-class - ML500 5-dr wagon

First drive: Merc's faster and more frugal ML500

Power-up: ML500 sprints to 100km/h more than a second faster than before.

Benz repowers its ML500 SUV with its latest V8, but greenies still need not apply

1 Nov 2007

THE Mercedes-Benz ML500 SUV has been given a mighty boost thanks to a potent new 5.5-litre V8 that brings both power and fuel-efficiency gains and, along along with more standard equipment, pushes its price beyond $120,000.

The new engine delivers a massive power gain of 60kW, which is just 1kW less than the complete output of a 1.3-litre Honda Jazz. It now generates 285kW at 6000rpm.

Torque is also boosted by an impressive 70Nm, for a total of 530Nm delivered from 2800 to 4800rpm.

That is enough to see this hefty 4WD wagon run from 0-100km/h in a claimed 5.8 seconds, which is more than a second faster than the existing model.

Already in service on a number of Mercedes passenger cars, the 90-degree 5.5-litre unit is the latest generation of Mercedes V8 engines and represents a return to a four-valve-per-cylinder set-up after a generation of three-valve designs.

4 center imageThe ML500 consumes 12.9L/100km according to the official ADR81/01 test cycle, which is down from 13.4L/100km – despite the fact that, at 2185kg, the new ML500 is 10kg heavier than the previous model.

Like the engine is replaces, the new 5.5-litre engine is teamed with a seven-speed automatic transmission. Apart from the new engine, the remainder of the ML500 mechanical set-up remains largely the same, except for the suspension. Air suspension, which was previously an option, is now standard fit for the ML500 and features an adaptive damping feature that is able to react to the surface conditions.

The new ML500 is now priced from $120,874, which is up from the 2005 launch figure of $116,900, but the updated vehicle comes with more standard equipment.

On top of the previous specification, the new ML adds a reversing camera and self-cleaning bi-Xenon headlights with cornering function.

Standard specification for the base model includes 19-inch alloy wheels, electronically operated front seats, leather trim, multi-zone climate control, burr walnut woodgrain sections, tinted windows, exterior chrome highlights, a compass and dark-tinted tail-lights.

ML500 owners also have the option of replacing the standard luxury seats with sports seats lined with a mix of Artico (Mercedes synthetic ‘leather’) and Alcantara. The switch also adds sports pedals, which feature brushed aluminium surfacing with rubber studs for grip.

A premium package is available for $4900 and adds adaptive cruise control, heated and ventilated seats and keyless entry.

There is also a Designo Edition which, for another $11,000, includes unique leather trim, heated front seats, Designo woodgrain, leather trim for the dashboard top, an armrest lid and special floor mats. This pack is also available for the ML280, ML320 and ML350.

One slightly less luxurious option is the Off-Road Pro pack, which adds front and rear lockable differentials, a two-speed transfer case with low range and a reinforced rear axle for $6000.

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