2015 Mercedes-Benz ML400 | Road Test

Posted on Dec 14, 2014 by
2015 Mercedes-Benz ML400
  • Editor Rating

  • Rated 4 stars
  • Excellent
AEDAED 301,000
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  • ML400
  • Reviewed by:
  • Published on:
  • Last modified: December 14, 2014
  • Exterior
    Editor: 85%
  • Interior
    Editor: 90%
  • Quality
    Editor: 95%
  • Features
    Editor: 80%
  • Performance
    Editor: 80%
  • Value for money
    Editor: 85%

Review Summary:

We've all heard of the and many have even dreamed of owning one. But before rushing out jumping on the M-Class bandwagon, a little research proves that it may not actually be the best of the lot.

Pros

* It is without a doubt the prettiest SUV in the brand's line-up.
* Priced well in line with its competition.
* Delivers a sense of sophistication and superiority which similar priced rivals simply cannot.

Cons

* Intrusive traction control system makes going near impossible.
* Engaging reverse gear is the only way to switch the 360 degree camera system on.

Introduction & Summary

Over the years, the Mercedes-Benz M-Class has cemented its reputation as part of the German automaker’s lineup. Having made its debut 18 years ago in the year 1997, the M-Class fits in between the smaller GLK and larger GL, with which it shares its platform. Facing competition from the Volkswagen Touareg and Land Rover LR4, the Mercedes-Benz M-Class may not be the longest standing of the three, but it most certainly is the least sheepish when parked alongside its rivals.

2015 Mercedes-Benz ML400

Styling & Design

Evolving from a rugged first generation model, to a slightly awkward and disproportionate second generation model, the ML has grown out of puberty and blossomed into a striking mid-size SUV. Borrowing styling cues from its sedan sibling, the E-Class, the third generation ML is the best yet, welcoming headlights which emulate the silhouette of an almond, a tri-slat chrome embellished grille, and alluring LED tail lamps which wrap around the ends of the German’s 1,663mm broad rear.

2015 Mercedes-Benz ML400 front

High gloss dark burr walnut wood, ARTICO leather, and splashes of silver trim, work as a constant reminder of the German manufacturer’s attention to detail and generous use of luxury fittings. Nestled into the protruding centre console, is a 7 inch infotainment display, along with controls for the Bluetooth system, and various switches to toggle the traction control system, parking sensors, and ECO driving modes on and off.

Features

Wearing the three pointed star on its snout as an indication of what to expect in the features department, the 2015 Mercedes-Benz ML400 brings an impressive amount of standard equipment and an even longer list of optional extras. Attracting attention from the standard kit, is a multi-function leather wrapped steering wheel, and Attention Assist, which warns the driver if the system detects signs of increasing inattention, or drowsiness, by sounding an alarm and displaying a cup of coffee on the instrument cluster’s digital display.

2015 Mercedes-Benz ML400 interior

Hop over to the virtually endless list of optional extras, however, and the ML400 is home to heated and cooled cup holders, a panoramic roof, an ambient lighting system, a collision prevention assist, a night view assist, and a 360 degree camera option to aid with parking the 4,804mm long leviathan. The only issue with the 360 degree view camera being, engaging reverse gear is the only way to enable it, as there is no switch within the cabin to turn the system on. In turn, even if parking nose first, swapping into reverse becomes a prerequisite.

Performance, Ride & Handling

Unlike the good old days when the ML came in just two flavours (ML350 and ML500), with one being a V6 and the other a V8, today the ML400 brews horsepower and torque figures from its V6 powerhouse which are closer to those produced by V8’s than by V6’s. Pushing out 329 horsepower and 480 Nm of torque from its 3.0 litre Bi-turbo V6 engine, the 2015 Mercedes-Benz ML400 accelerates from a standstill to the 100 km/h marker in an impressive 6.2 seconds and is capable of hauling over 3,265 kilograms.

2015 Mercedes-Benz ML400 interior

Coupled to a 7 speed automatic transmission, which routes power to Mercedes’ 4MATIC All Wheel Drive system, the ML400 feels well planted on the road and even more so with the Active Curve system in action. Utilizing active stabilizers to reduce the roll angle of the 2,130kg mammoth when driving enthusiastically, the ML400 encourages you to push it harder, but be warned, it ain’t that easy.

Equipped with what Mercedes-Benz refers to as Direct Steer, the ML400 uses a direct steering ratio to reduce the steering effort required when negotiating tight bends. The drawback of this system, however, is an extremely light steering, which definitely takes some time getting used to and the need to muster up some courage when taking the behemoth into three digit territory on the speed-o-metre.

2015 Mercedes-Benz ML400 interior

With the option to raise the vehicle for more ground clearance, a Hill Descent Control switch, and an off-road button which tweaks engine output and the transmission for off-road driving, the ML400 will have you believe that it can handle a fair bit off the beaten path, but unfortunately, it isn’t the case.

Thanks to an intrusive single-stage traction control system which cuts off power almost instantly once any sort of wheel spin is noticed, switching the system off and venturing onto even beach sand, is a recipe for disaster. Best left to tarmac, the 2015 Mercedes-Benz ML400 is fitted with an ECO mode, which enables the Start/Stop system to aid in improving fuel economy by switching the engine off when at the lights, or in heavy traffic.

Comfort & Practicality

Reserving the right to seat seven occupants by its larger sibling, the GL-Class, the 2015 Mercedes-Benz ML400 only offers seating for five. But don’t be disheartened, for the five people that will be taken aboard, will be seated in the lap of luxury. Broad and spacious rear seats, which possess the capability to recline, make arguing for leg space a thing of the past. More importantly, with ISOFIX child seat anchorage points as standard, the ML is able to have three child seats alongside one another on the rear seat absolutely effortlessly.

2015 Mercedes-Benz ML400 side

On the practicality front, the ML400 does brilliantly as well, allowing 1,025 litres of storage capacity with the second row seats in use, or an impressive 2,010 litres when stowed away. But that’s not all, for under the storage floor, there’s another 90 litres available as well! Significantly a lot more than the Touareg’s 1,812 litre capacity, but unfortunately not as much as the LR4’s 2,557 litres.

Price & Verdict

The ML400 inundates your senses with luxury and is clearly the most pleasant to look at and be in, when lined up against the Land Rover LR4 and Volkswagen Touareg. Although its off-road façade could have many fooled, picking which one of these SUV’s delivers the best bang for your buck, is not as straight forward as we initially thought.

2015 Mercedes-Benz ML400 rear

Fitted with an engine which is weaker than both its aforementioned rivals as far as horsepower is concerned, the ML makes up for it with its torque ratings – 480 Nm compared to the Land Rover’s 450 Nm and the Touareg’s 440 Nm. Plugging prices into the equation, complicates the choice further, as the Land Rover LR4 and ML400 are separated by just AED 1,000, while the Touareg with its V8 engine drives the price bar all the way up to AED 340,000.

Simply put, though all three vehicles generate nearly the same amounts of power and are in a similar price bracket, they are all very different vehicles. I for one, would pick the Land Rover LR4 with its unmatched off-road capability, but there’s no denying that a display of wealth and accomplishment in life is best portrayed when behind the wheel of the ML. I guess you could say it’s all an age thing…


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