15 September 2004

A roadside hotel near the M25 is one of the last places you’d expect to see a still-secret Mercedes prototype, but it’s a sight that could become a lot more common. This is the new M-class SUV, which was caught after spending the night in a Hertfordshire hotel car park.

Mercedes sources told Autocar that although the car (which is closely related to the R-class, detailed above) was not due to be launched until late next year, it would be spending development time on the UK’s taxing roads.

‘This country is a very important market for the M-class and we want to spend time tweaking the chassis to ensure the car will be exactly right,’ an insider told us.

Mercedes’ move follows in the tracks of Ford, Vauxhall/Opel, Audi and, most recently, Volkswagen. All these manufacturers are now completing extensive chassis tests in the UK to ensure top-level ride and handling on the UK’s unique roads. BMW is also said to be testing in the UK after extensive criticism of the ride quality of models fitted with run-flat tyres.

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