Mercedes-Benz M Class Station Wagon 2005 - 2008

Mercedes-Benz M Class Station Wagon 2005 - 2008

Review by it
Monday, May 16, 2016

Pros:

  • Accomplished and refined
  • It has lost many ailments that the previous generation suffered from
  • A good-quality and enjoyable car

Cons:

  • The 3rd row of seats has disappeared
  • Quite a disappointing interior
  • Manual gearbox scrapped, yet this is a 4x4?

Overview

The next generation of the M-Class in an entirely new vehicle that simply looks like an M-Class. Including a brand-new set of 4-valve engines, the new generation M-Class was completely rebuilt. After more than half a billion dollars worth of updates to the factory and the car's design, we have what is an accomplished and good quality 4x4. It has lost, however, its classic body-on-frame construction and has decided to stick with a more modern layout. It has enabled the car to shed some weight but some of the die-hard off-road enthusiasts turned away from it claiming that it's not a proper 4x4 any more. It is still quite capable both on and off road, but if you switch from the old M-Class to the new one it will feel like an entirely new car. Because in the end, that's what it is. It's not an upgrade it's an entirely new car.

Exterior and Interior

Although it's been a complete redesign, the German designers have remained true to their initial concept. You can still recognise the design traits of the original M-Class design. Just now it's brought to you in a newer, fresher design that still looks part of the family. The ML-class has lost its optional 3-rd row of seats. It was a clever move by DaimlerChrysler to give its flagship GL-Class SUV a head start, saying: if you want a 7-seater, buy our bigger and more expensive GL-Class. This will upset those that were not looking to spend GL money though, and they may end up going elsewhere. With its comfort level, it's still better than its main competitors ‐ the Volvo XC90 and the BMW X5 but no match to the Land Rovers.

Performance and Economy

One word springs to mind ‐ disappointing. The new M-Class doesn't have a manual gearbox option. They're all auto! Other elements that make a good off-road car (locking differential and low-range gears) have been dropped from the original equipment list, but can be obtained as an optional extra. Add that smooth construction to the mix and you have a big comfortable car. Unfortunately, the M-class isn't a capable 4x4 car anymore so all of that excess horsepower and excellent torque goes wasted! Talking about horsepower, it's difficult to choose. The lower-spec diesel engines 2.8-litre and 3.0-litre diesels are probably too weak for a heavy Mercedes. The 3.2-diesel with its 220BHP seems spot on. As does the 3.5-litre petrol version with 268BHP. Both engines deliver around 26mpg. However, the larger engines will only provide a return of about 20mpg. The top of the range 5-litre petrol monster is quick, uneconomic and emits 304g CO2 per km. It is also penalised by having been put in the upper insurance group 50. Insuring the more civilian versions isn't cheap either as the 3.2-litre diesel is still in group 44.

Like to Drive

It's a much better car for a day-to-day driving, but you won't be able to enjoy any decent off-road action with the new M-Class. It won't leave you stuck in a puddle of mud, but it's not built for serious off-road action. The driver's position is comfortable and the overall handling experience is good. With the gear lever moved up next to the steering wheel it will feel like driving an American car (it is built for America) or a modern van. The suspension is fine-tuned but the response from the road surface is hampered because this car is so full of electronics.

Faults and Repairs

You cannot really compare the new generation with the old rattle-box the M-Class once used to be. You cannot get your fingers between various exterior parts any more and interior bits are not coming loose at high speeds. There's been a massive improvement and the car is now considered reliable. It's unlikely to break down more often than its main competitors ‐ the Volvo XC90 and BMW X5 - and it has a better level of equipment than those two.