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Discussion Starter #1
this time from German AutoBild:



"Mercedes-Benz ML 320 CDI: So fährt die S-Klasse fürs Gelände"



Nice color too!! [:D]

Unfortunately I'm down with a bad flu, but I'd like to crawl out and get a copy [:)]

Cheers,
Birger
 

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Flue, shmoo...get out there and get a copy, scan it and post it for us poor Americans that can't get it yet! :)
 

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Hi, Greg (and everyone else),

GregW / Oregon - 3/11/2005 11:12 AM

Flue, shmoo...get out there and get a copy, scan it and post it for us poor Americans that can't get it yet! :)
In true Benzworld spirit, I actually did one better that that: Having passed this "nice" flu on to my spouse, the doc had to come to our house this afternoon. As I had to go get a variety of medicine for her, I also got the latest issue of AutoBild -
and as the scan/translate via AltaVista didn't really work out, here you all have my very personal translation of the AutoBild text:

First Driving Impressions: Mercedes ML 320 CDI

– written by Michael Specht of AutoBild and translated by yours truly.

Bigger, stronger, more luxurious – a gentle bull seeking new ways

Seven years ago Mercedes started the first German SUV. The second M-Class is supposed to set a new standard for comfort.

As everyone knows, experience makes wise – even the oldest auto manufacturer of the world: Mercedes. The Stuttgart-based company has since the end of 1997 when they presented their new M-Class paid a heavy tribute to this saying – in short, they’ve taken a beating. From customers and the motoring press critic was plentiful. Manufacturing and quality of the materials used in the interior were far below the level that you usually await from Mercedes. However, this didn’t harm the sales figures, as customers had to wait up to ten months for the popular 270CDI diesel. Until today, more than 620,000 softroaders left the assembly lines in Tuscaloosa and Graz.

Now the follow-up is ready to start: This summer (July/August) the dealers will receive the new model. It’s longer (by 15 cm), wider (by 7.1 cm) and marginally lower (by .5 cm). This makes it appear more dynamic, but it’s still immediately recognizable as an M-Class, which is also the intention in order not to scare away existing customers.

However, new and existing customers are offered an completely new concept with the W164, as it is internally known: The vehicle exists in two variants, the base version has all-wheel drive as before, but without the reduction typical to off-road vehicles. Clients wanting this, for real needs or for boosting their ego, have to check the “Offroad Pro Technikpaket� at 1914 EUR. This in addition offers two diff locks (centre and rear) and the pneumatic AirMatic suspension, which allows ground clearance to be boosted by 11 cms to a total of 29 cms. No doubt this will please the forest rangers that have to get through deeply rutted roads, Even fording up to a depth of 60 cms should be possible.

And all this smoothly, without changing gears or pushing a clutch, as all new ML’s have the seven-speed automatic 7G-Tronic. Whoever doesn’t want to let the computer do all the shifting can exercise his (or her) influence via tip controls behind the wheel, but this is of no use, neither to the ego, nor to the progress. A conventional automatic is simply better fitted to a vehicle of this type, and is – as it is – nearly perfect.

Especially so in connection with the brand-new common-rail diesel that was fitted to our test vehicle. Even with the particle filter and the Euro-4 standard this engine yields 224 HP and from 1600 rpm puts out a torque hitherto more connected to a big V8 gas engine: 510 Nm.

It’s clear that with an engine like this you get a feeling of superiority. The diesel is agreeably silent and propels the 2.1 tonne heavy ML effortlessly to 100 kph in 8.6 seconds and goes on from there to a max speed of 215 kph. And while doing this keeps so quiet that I think I’m sitting in a lifted S-Class.

No doubt that the optional pneumatic suspension (at 1,856 EUR) has something to do with that. Via a small switch on the centre console the driver can even choose between standard, sport or comfort settings, but this is only noticeable on bad pavement. Above 120 kph, the Airmatic suspension automatically lowers the body by three cms in order to lower the fuel consumption.

Mercedes promises a mixed fuel consumption of 9.8 litres per 100 kms – at the end of my testing day the onboard computer showed me 13.1 litres, which in respect of size, weight and performance is very acceptable. More exact figures will follow in a later test. In terms of interior quality, the Stuttgart company has – as far as this early test can determine – returned to “real� Mercedes quality. The seating and driving positions are optimal, the choice of materials is excellent, the vehicle seems very spacious and all switches are logical in operation – except for the bulky indicator/wiper stick that I can’t (or won’t) get acquainted with.

As a compensation, the small selector lever of the gearbox is perfect in its operation (dear BMW designers: this is how we would have liked the 7-Class to be).

The comparison with the vehicles from Munich is also present when you compare the new M-Class with the present X5. The new ML is “softer�, the steering is less direct – but this is a wanted feature. Project leader M-Class Thomas Merker: “Our vehicle is intended for travelling, it’s not a sports car�.

And travelling demands space. Also for the people sitting in the rear. The wheelbase that has been increased by almost ten cms compared to the predecessor is of course also beneficial to the leg room. The seats in themselves seem of a high quality. In front, they’re perfect, but IMHO the rear seats could be better sculpted for two people. The net volume behind the rear seats is 551 litres. Fold the rear seats, and you have a nearly flat surface that – loaded to the roof – offers approximately as much volume as the surely not smallish E-Class station wagon, or 1,830 litres.

As an option you can remove the rear seat cushions, which brings the available volume to 2,050 litres and more than 2 metres of available load floor length. If need be, you can sleep in the ML.

Alas, future ML buyers should have a solid bank account. The prices start at a hefty 46,342 EUR for the less powerful of the diesels and end at 63,220 EUR for the macho ML500. In theory, that is – because it never ends up like that. The list of options has the format of a small book, counting more than 80 positions. At least in this respect, the M-Class hasn’t changed a yodel.


And with this, we end the transmission from Luxyland tonight [:)]

Birger
 

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You know I was only kidding, but thanks for the extra effort! Hope you are all well soon. Did you get a flu shot?
 

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Discussion Starter #5
"Scoops"

Hi again,

First of all, thanks to the many people who read the translation and to Greg for caring - THX, we're getting better[:)][:)][:)] - the same flu/virus BTW knocked out 90% of the sales workforce at my local MB dealership, so I didn't loose too many places on the waiting list. Sorry, it was too hard to resist this bad pun [:(][:(][:(]

Getting back to the AutoBild "driving impression": Take it wit a grain of salt or two. This publication is not exactly known as the holy grail auto-wise, and a closer inspection of the pics has led me to believe that it's mabe a bit far-fetched. The photo shots are all done in a snow-covered and - judging by the expression on the person's faces - quite cold environment.

The official press presentation of the W164 took place in Southern France, and while there WAS indeed a freak snowstorm (see other posts), nothing like this. Also, all backgrounds are conveniently blurred.

An educated guess leads me to believe that this "driving impression" was conducted in Canada, either with genuine German plates, or a bit of Photoshopping. Why? On the front page, the W164 clearly has amber side reflectors, and what must be DRL's (probably twin-filament bulbs in the innermost light unit in the front headlight assembly). Inside the article, (as well as in the lower of the photos above) you clearly see an amber bulb lit in the corner part of the front headlight assembly. Another photo (inside teh atricle itself) clearly shows the "offroad" warning sticker that is fitted to the sun visor of US and CAN vehicles - but not over here.

This is in no way meant as a denigration of Michael Specht's efforts to bring us the first driving impression of the diesel W164 (ganz im Gegenteil, wenn jemand von AutoBild diese Zeilen liesen sollte), but just to relativise things - European readers of this group might want to postpone their definitive judgement of the vehicle until a "proper" EU-spec vehicle is driven.

Best greetings from a sleeping Luxyland,
Birger
 
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