With Mercedes keen on releasing their international lineup of cars in India as fast as possible, it was but natural that their ageing lineup in India also receives the Botox treatment. While the GL received its turn of Botox, it is now the turn of the smaller and much applauded ML class. Very recently, Mercedes unveiled its to be launched 2011 Mercedes ML class in India to the international audience and the features and stuff that were on display did make us gape in wonder. Needless to say, here are a few words about the 2011 ML class which would be coming into India very soon. Needless to say, the 2011 Mercedes ML class would be subjected through its paces in the form of a review or even test drive the Indiandrives way.
From the onset, this car is significantly longer than its predecessor. This means that the talks of ML being the baby Benz and stuff wouldn’t hold good for too long. The extra length of this car makes us comment that it should actually be called as XL rather than ML. The ML is and can be called as rustic model especially from its looks. While the earlier one looked kinda soft and mellowed, the new one looks far too bellowing. This is the 3rd generation ML class that Mercedes has produced. The 3 pointed star on the grille is a large pronounced thing and the air dams are complete with their net like beadings. The new car boasts of head lamps which are much similar to the Hyundai Santa Fe but with a bit more character than the latter. Moreover, the traditional thing of having daytime running LEDs in place of fog lamps is also being practiced here. The scuff plate in the front is now body colored. The fact that impressed us was that inspite of being such a mammoth, Mercedes claims that the drag coefficient for this car is only 0.32.
The earlier classic ML C-pillar has been retained in this new model and all LEDs make for the tail lamps. These are in two piece units. The earlier optional sunroof is still kept as an option for the new model. The ride height has been further lowered down by a few millimeters.
For the interiors, the major change is the adoption of wood all over the cabin. Wood can even be found on the steering wheel (a favorite Mercedes place) and also some of the interior panels. This Merc is one heck of a 5 seater with proper seating for 5 passengers and their luggage. Anything bigger and the GL or the R class would definitely beckon the wallets or cheques. The meter dials have been reworked and Mercedes now offer a navigation system as standard in all the models. Not only is leather upholstery standard but it is handstitched as well. Now, that would be an industry first in this segment. Chief Designer for Mercedes, Gorden Wagener says that the new Mercedes has not only become bigger but it also displays calm, more presence and sophistication. He was also quick to add that the new Mercedes displays a poise and country charm which is missing from its predecessor and even the competition. Sunroof is an optional part of equipment whereas AC vents for the last row passengers is also present. The front ones ofcourse get the dual zone climate control system. The meter dials also have been reworked upon and though they look classy, they are now more well lit and well presented. Boot space has also improved though the exact improvement in this department is yet to be ascertained or quantified.
The steel spring suspension with selective damping should mean a cushy and soft ride quality on the less than perfect road conditions of India. This same suspension also firms up to ensure that the handling of the car isn’t affected by a lot and there would be less body roll present. An optional 4×4 system would also ensure that the 2011 ML has some rock climbing capabilities. Limited slip differentials may also make their presence felt with this car. With the Airmatic suspension system, there is the Active Curve feature offered. Active anti-roll bars are used to regulate the function of lateral acceleration and speed. A Hydraulic pump activates them and the oil reservoir for the same is located under the engine bay. Moreover, on the centrally mounted color touch screen display system, there would be an option for the On-Off road package. In this package would be included three different road setting options. The first one would be for the 3 different on-road package, the second one would be for two off-roading things and the third would be the automatic mode. The COMAND system has also being given a revamp and this new revamp would be quite similar to the one used by LandRover in their Terrain Response System. The Active Curve seems to have been derived from arch rival BMW. Use of cross stabilizers lowers the body roll to a great extent in this car. The stability of the car as also its agility is increased by leaps and bounds due to this very reason.
The 2011 Mercedes ML class in India would come with two engine options though internationally it is offered with three engine options. Two diesel and one petrol engine. India would get the smaller of the diesel engines while the bigger one may follow after a couple of months later. The older 300 CDI model has been axed and in its place comes the smaller 250 CDI which pumps 204 Bhp of power and a very good 500 Nm of torque. The torque converter used would be the current 7 speed one which is doing duties in various other Mercedes cars in India. Not only would it help in smoothly moving the car ahead, but it would also help in getting the best fuel efficiency out of it. It is said that the newer motor manages to coax 16.7 kmpl overall from this vehicle. The best part is that while doing all this, Mercedes’ BlueEfficiency program ensures that the carbon footprint is left only to 158g/100 kms. The fuel tank has also being redesigned to carry 93 liters of fuel and coupled with the claimed mileage it would be 1500 kms before the ML would need a refill. All the three engines meet the Euro 5 standards which is light years ahead of the BS4 norms that we currently have in India. The low nitrogen oxide emissions from the SCR catalytic converter ensures that urea injection taking place converts the exhaust gases to a watery liquid which is called as AdBlue and would be stored in a separate auxillary tank which would be present in the spare wheel well. This would probably be cleaned out by the service station depending on the service intervals. The petrol motor would put out 258 Bhp of power and a 443 Nm of torque. It would give a fuel efficiency of approximately 11.6 kmpl.
Now, the exact pricing of this car is yet to be revealed. However , a safe estimate would place this in the region of Rs 50 lakhs for a starting price. However, more details of the 2011 Mercedes ML class price in India would be released once the car is launched. Seeing the developments currently going on in Mercedes India, it is safe to predict a Diwali or Christmas launch for this “smaller” behemoth. This can definitely be called as the SUV for the well heeled.