2012 Mercedes-Benz M-Class | first drive

Posted on Apr 3, 2012 by

Middle east is probably the last bastion of big, powerful engines and large bodied cars plying on its roads. A challenge faces here is while its uber-luxury sedan range immediately comes to mind, it’s SUV offerings don’t ring a bell – well, instantly at least, barring the G Wagon, which has found a fan following in most Royal families in the region.

Unfortunately, other SUVs from this German car maker are not really seen as blood brothers of the legendary G Wagon. The 2012 M-Class too shares the same fate. With the launch of the new 2012 M-Class in Dubai last week, Mercedes is taking this perception head on.

As is the accepted industry norm, the new 2012 M-Class is bigger and wider than the one it replaces but only if you take a measuring tape and go about checking. Visually, it appears similar in size and the one-inch addition in length and half-an-inch growth in the width of the vehicle isn’t noticeable. The roof height is lower and Mercedes-Benz says that this new model has more interior space than ever before. Wheelbase is the same 2915mm as its predecessor.

2012 Mercedes-Benz M-Class Desert Dubai

2012 Mercedes-Benz M-Class

Appearance wise, the new 2012 M-Class has significantly upped its game in appearing bold and muscular, as a SUV should. It’s been redesigned completely and it looks sportier than its predecessor with bold character lines all around. Mercedes claim this car to be most aerodynamic SUV in its segment. That means it will go farther and grip better. The most striking feature up-front is its chrome skid plate that stands out remarkably. All other features are quintessentially M-Class-ish with a bit of design tweaks. In profile the 2012 M-Class doesn’t take much away from the previous model.

At the rear you will find the a similar large chrome skid plate like the front and that begs a question, are chrome finished skid plates the right things to have if you plan on taking this car off-road? We think the 2012 M-Class is more handsome and butch in its latest avatar but will this convince an owner to take it off-road? We leave that to the owners to answer.

2012 Mercedes-Benz M-Class Dubai UAE

2012 Mercedes-Benz M-Class

As you would expect from Mercedes-Benz, the build quality is superb and the interior feels like it will last forever. The materials used speak volumes on quality. However, the company’s fascination to place a button wherever possible ruins the experience if you prefer simplicity. With things moving to touch screen consoles on most high-end cars, Mercedes-Benz should have spared some thought on minimalising buttons. But then again, there might be those who prefer having more buttons because they have spent more money than their neighbours and bought a Mercedes-Benz.

Comfort is top notch with nothing to complain about and we say this after driving one of its close competitors to the launch. You will find almost all the latest automotive gadgetry on the inside and one of the best among its class is the way you adjust the front row seats using the door-mounted controls. Buttons on the four-spoke steering wheel allow you to operate various functions using the screen situated in instrumentation cluster.

The updated version of COMAND also features on the new 2012 M-Class. Keyless ignition is an optional accessory, which we think should have been part of standard equipment. Other optional features include a dual zone climate control, seat memory package and seat ventilation. A 20 CD changer comes standard and for those who have an ear for fine sound quality, a premium will fetch you the optional Harman Kardon Logic 7 surround system. A rear seat entertainment is also available as an optional extra.

2012 Mercedes-Benz M-Class dubai uae

2012 Mercedes-Benz M-Class

The 2012 M-Class handles with a touch of sportiness. Steering feedback from the electro-mechanic system is impressive and handling is agile for a SUV. Ride quality is plush with a bit of body roll when you tend to push it around corners. The optional Active Curve System helps reduce body roll by adjusting the suspension stabilisers. The optional 0ff-road AIRMATIC package with adaptive damping system continually adapts to the driving condition and allows you to raise the vehicle height when you go off-road and reduces the height automatically when you are driving at high speeds.

During our simulated braking test, the car never lost its composure. The ABS works really well with the pedal not jittering about frantically like in most cars and the car holds on to its line like it’s on rails but there is quite a bit of dive.  The pedal feels a bit spongy as well. We also tried the M-Class on an emergency lane change simulation and discovered that the car maintains its demeanor in a demanding situation. All sorts of electronic aids get to work helping the driver keep the car in control.

2012 Mercedes-Benz M-Class dubai UAE

2012 Mercedes-Benz M-Class

The 2012 ML 350 BlueEfficiency gets a 3.5-litre V6 engine with direct injection. This engine produces 306bhp at 6500rpm and 370Nm of torque at 3500-5250rpm. All variants get a 7-speed automatic transmission with an all-wheel-drive system.

For those who are keen on outright power and performance, there is the ML 63 AMG with its 6.2-litre powerhouse.

The 2012 M-Class has 10 standard airbags and a host of other active and passive safety features along with a pedestrian protective system. Optional safety features include a lane departure warning system and active blind spot assist.

2012 Mercedes-Benz M-Class

2012 Mercedes-Benz M-Class

We believe the 2012 M-Class will continue to play the underdog in this increasingly competitive segment where other German manufacturers seem to have the upper hand in this luxury SUV market. Lexus has also compounded the sales problem for Mercedes with its new GX being placed comfortably between the RX and the LX.

Specifications

Price
ML 350: AED 235,174
ML 500: AED 320,100

ML 63 AMG: AED 405,000

Engine

ML 350: 3.5-litre V6; 306bhp, 370Nm
ML 500: 4.7-litre V8; 4089bhp, 600Nm

ML 63 AMG: 5.5-litre V8; 517bhp, 700Nm

One Response to 2012 Mercedes-Benz M-Class | first drive

  1. Javeed Wahedna Reply

    April 7, 2012 at 3:01 pm

    Good 4wheel, also need to know about other 4 wheels, like BMWs, etc.

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