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Discussion Starter #1
After our salesman informed us of the arrival of the new ML's at the local dealer, my wife and I took one for a test drive over the weekend. These are (mostly) my opinions.

As some others, I'm still not totally smitten with the look of the exterior. They had the new ML parked next to a W163 ML500 special edition, and I must say, the new ML looks like the W163's metro sexual brother [:D]. Still, they only had well optioned ML350's there, so we'll see what the ML500 looks like, and I would also like to see it in some colours other than the Iridium Silver and Black they had there. I do like the front treatment (headlights, grill, etc), the flush gas port, the chrome accents on the rear bumber and the wraparound rear glass. It's more a case that I personally like my SUV's to be more rugged looking.

Inside, my wife did not like the door panel treatments or the dash. She much prefers our ML430's door and dash. I suspect that has more to do with the fact that we drove one with a black interior, and our ML is Java. I suspect that she will like the Macadamia interior much better. I liked the new interior, and I think it looks sporty and very well integrated. Especially the new MCS II unit. It makes the old MCS look like a poorly executed aftermarket install. I also like the bold round vents with their chrome accents. Overall, I think the new interior looks great.

As far as space, the new interior looks much more cramped than the W163 - I don't care what the nunbers say. The rear seats were quite comfortable for me during the 5 minutes I sat there. The cargo space looks about half the size of the W163, what with the rear seats being more reclined, the roof tapering down and the hatch tapered as well. Definitely not nearly as utility focussed as the W163. I also missed the big mirrors of our W163, but you facelift owners are probably already used to smaller mirrors.

The car drove great. Definitely a huge improvement on our 4+ year old truck. Quiet, handles great, nice acceleration for a V6, very comfortable seats (alcantara in our demo). The demo had the air suspension option. You get quite a lift if you set it on high. That will surely help a bit when going off roading.

Speaking of which, the brochure mentions nothing about the car's off-road ability. No approach / departure angles, fording depth, etc are mentioned. The salesman also said that the Lexus RX330 was the main competitor, which is a shame. He said that they were told that the new ML with the off-roading package will be at least as capable as the existing ML.

The W163 was a revolutionary product in that it provided a true luxury sport utility vehicle at a decent price. All the competitors prove how successfull MB was with the W163. The W164 is definitely built for a different audience than the W163. I suspect this will translate to good sales figures for MB, especially in the US market.

When driving back in our ML430, I must say that our old truck can still hold its head up high. It's a little noisier (but we have all terrain tyres, not the more street oriented tyres on the W164), handles a little less precise (but is probably a little more capable off-road than the standard W164), and has a spacious cabin and load area.
 

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2001 ML320
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their sales training is only against the RX330 now

http://www.curtrich.com/february2005.html

Hence the weird obsession w/ cupholders in the sales literature and training info :p
The new MB driving event featuring the M-Class is conspicuously missing any sort of off-road course as well...
 

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2020 MB GLE 450 4MATIC, 2015 BMW M4
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Daniel - 3/27/2005 2:42 PM

Speaking of which, the brochure mentions nothing about the car's off-road ability. No approach / departure angles, fording depth, etc are mentioned.

The salesman also said that the Lexus RX330 was the main competitor, which is a shame. He said that they were told that the new ML with the off-roading package will be at least as capable as the existing ML. It will be interesting to see what wheels/tires it will come with.
I'm sure when the Off Road package is released this area will be emphasized. Since the standard ML comes with highway tires and doesn't raise as much as the Off Road. It should be much more capable with locking diffs. and more ground clearance.

The W163 was a revolutionary product in that it provided a true luxury sport utility vehicle at a decent price. All the competitors prove how successfull MB was with the W163. The W164 is definitely built for a different audience than the W163. I suspect this will translate to good sales figures for MB, especially in the US market.
I don't think it's built for a different audience, it's just that the SUV landscape has changed and M-B has followed it. At least they still have an off-road version.
 

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'12 Peugeot 3008 HYbrid4 (sorry!)
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Lexus/ML - and some observations on luggage space

Hi, Ken

You're right - but then look at the German test, where they shamelessly "abuse" a ML320CDI sport.

Honestly, even with all the sympathy I (still) have towards the Lexus, I wouldn't have dared expose one - even as a journalist - to that kind of driving.

It's nice, however, to see another confirmation that the luggage space has shrunk considerably. The Germans put it at 636 litres against 551 - but the "forget" to mention that the 551 litres shrink by another 50 when you put in the luggage cover. Yet a lot of Euro motoring mags go on about the W164 beeing roomier EVERYWHERE than the W163 - I guess that the catering and "additional room services" on the press trips must have been quite a lot above average [;)]

After seeing a number of photos of the W164 I still can't qute imagine in which state the engineer was when he decided to put the luggage cover nearly two inches below the top of the rear seat backs, thus wasting away the possibility of putting suitcases upright.

I guess that on mine I'll have to trust the mobility guarantee, not get the spare wheel, and on an almost permanent basis keep the luggage cover in the storage area underneath the luggage area - or design a raised mounting possibility for the cover.

Cheers from Northern Italy (only for another day, alas [:(] )
Birger
 

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Had the opportunity to see and get into one on Fri at my dealer's. I refused the chance to drive a 350 as I have a 500 on order and will wait to drive one of those. Feel the interior is OK but I still like the W163 exterior better. I did not like the "rails" on either side of the consol at all and the column shift in my mind is a regression. Cargo area to me looks similar to the 163 and I did like the full size albeit temporary spare. Noted on the left side of the cargo area the panel covers a large fuse block and emer gas flap release. Rt side has the first aid kit and the Subwoofer. Did not care for the headrest design.All in all I am having some second thoughts.
 

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magazine writers test against whatever they feel appropriate

I am a bit amazed it does so well when all of MBUSA's literature seems to indicate it wasn't designed for offroading ;-)

Cargo space looks smaller because it's more "sleek". I hope to check this out in person soon.

Glad you're vacationing someplace warmer. We're finally getting above 40F this week and it might feel like Spring finally after having the winter w/ the 4th most snowfall (87")...
 

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W164 and RX comparison

As much as I hate the RX and its car-based design, I'm taken by the fact that Lexus claims it has 84 Cubic Feet of cargo space. Compare that to 81 of W163 and 72 of W164. I don't understand how Lexus can get that much space into a small "sleek" vehicle.

Be that as it may, the RX is 10k cheaper than a comporably equipped W164. Throw in proven reliablity and better resale, the W164 sales may suffer.

I always thought the ML's competitors were the 4Runner, Range Rover and other truck-based SUV's, not the car-based ones. This made the ML stand apart. Now, things are not so clear.
 

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RE: W164 and RX comparison

I'd love to take out one the the W164's for a off-road test. I'd like to see what they are really capable of doing. I think the ones with the off-road package will do better than the stock W163 anyday. But we will just have to see.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
RE: W164 and RX comparison

MLOffRoad - 3/28/2005 1:08 PM

I'd love to take out one the the W164's for a off-road test. I'd like to see what they are really capable of doing. I think the ones with the off-road package will do better than the stock W163 anyday. But we will just have to see.
On paper, the W164 with off-road package should be more capable than the W163, with increased ground clearance and 2 diff locks.

The off-road package is not even mentioned as delayed availability. I wonder when MB plans to introduce it?

BTW, the W164 has two buttons to control off-roading - one to put it in "off-road mode", and another to engage the hill descent program. The hill descent speed is user programmable via multi-function steering wheel buttons, from 3-10 mph. This seems to be standard on all ML's.
 
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