We’ve already lined up the new Mercedes M-class with its key rivals and it beat the lot, BMW X5 included. (Autocar, 8 March 2005). So what more can we say here?
Plenty. Our only caveat to the ML’s victory was that it took place in Germany, so we reserved the final nod until we got to sample it on British roads.
First impressions are that it gets that nod. Even on our more scarred and twistier roads the ML still feels like two generations ahead of the grim model it replaces. There’s the same confection of ride refinement and the excellent damping control that we remember. Along with the same sort of noise suppression, comfort, space and well manicured appearance you’d expect from a Benz saloon.
It doesn’t feel as agile as the X5, mind you, but has nicely chuckable neutral handling nonetheless. Unlike the Volvo XC90 there’s also no third row of seats either, you'll need the G-class for that.
This time round we’ve also left the tarmac and while it’s not Land Rover standard off-road it will meet the needs of most buyers. Standard cars don’t have a low ratio box, relying on traction control, permanent four-wheel drive and DSR (downhill speed regulator) to keep you moving in the mud.