When Mercedes’ ML first dared to impinge upon Range Rover country, it kickstarted the premium 4x4 boom; it’s a landmark car. That was 1997 however – and in 2004, Mercedes is marking its final months with range of ‘Special Edition’ models spanning the ML’s power panoply.
With second-generation MLs appearing this time next year though, armed with a unitary chassis, air suspension and a raft of new engines, what sort of argument can Mercedes construct for spending your £40k now?
Well, it has thrown more than £4,400 of extras in for a start, including leather and alcantara electric sports seats and a fascia lifted by black walnut or light birch trim. New 17in alloy wheels also sweeten the deal, as well as aluminium roof rails, a grille finished in polished silver, and a bonnet featuring the potent ML55 AMG’s twin ‘powerdomes’.
Unfortunately, the specification sheet is the only place this ageing offroader impresses. Clamber inside the cabin and you’ll find uncharacteristically cheap-feeling plastics, and switchgear that betrays the car’s years all too readily. No reach adjustment on the steering wheel is similarly hard to forgive, and further aft, space is scant. Don’t confuse this car for a commodious seven-seater; in place, the ML’s third row affords room only for young children, and folded and suspended on straps on either side of the boot, seats six and seven rattle at every opportunity.