Review: Mercedes-Benz ML-Class (2012 – 2015)
More spacious and economical than before. High quality and comfortable interior. Great motorway cruiser. Impressive refinement.
ML 250 CDI engine can feel sluggish. 7G-Tronic gearbox not quick to respond. Poor handling corners.
Mercedes-Benz ML-Class (2012 – 2015): At A Glance
The previous Mercedes-Benz ML proved a big hit for the German brand with its good looks and strong engines. So it's no surprise to see much of the same with this latest model. There are some significant improvements under the body with the engines being overhauled to provide better fuel economy but with minimal changes to performance.
As a result the entry-level ML300 CDI has been replaced with a new four-cylinder 2.2-litre engine that produces the same power and torque as the outgoing model, but with fuel efficiency improved from 33.6mpg to 47mpg. The trade off is that it's a fairly noisy engine that lacks the refinement of its predecessor although this is less noticeable on motorways. The ML is at its best with the ML 350 BlueTEC which is more powerful than the previous ML 350 CDI with more torque yet is also more economical.
The ML is most at home on the motorway where you can cruise along with little wind or road noise. Refinement and ride quality are both very impressive. Unfortunately it's not as good in corners. The steering is slow and there's plenty of bodyroll so it doesn't give you much confidence. That said grip is good and thanks to the permanent four-wheel drive system there's plenty of traction.
The improvements continue inside with a much better cabin both in terms of quality and on-board technology. The buttons and switches have a better quality feel to them and there's a much improved colour screen mounted in the central dash. It certainly has a premium feel that's on par with its rivals like the BMW X5. The large boot and spacious back seats make it a good family car.
What does a Mercedes-Benz ML-Class (2012 – 2015) cost?
Buy a used Mercedes-Benz M-Class from £14,640
Mercedes-Benz ML-Class (2012 – 2015): What's It Like Inside?
- Boot space is 690–2010 litres
The interior of the ML is a considerable step up from its predecessor in both perceived quality and style. Finally it looks like the modern and sophisticated SUV it's supposed to be, especially considering the not inconsiderable price tag. It's now a match for the likes of BMW and Audi having shaken off the rather dull and dated look it previously had.
The plastics used feel like they belong in a premium SUV and there's more high quality chrome trim. The air vents are now squared off rather than round and the leather used on the seats and doors is better too. Even the buttons on the stereo and climate controls have a more quality feel to them. These are all small details that add up to a premium feel.
After years, the column stalks have been redesigned although there's still the single column on the left that controls the wipers and indicators. And the column mounted gear lever remains, not doubt part of making the ML appeal to buyers in the US. There's a large colour screen mounted high on the dash and the control system is far more user friendly than before, especially the sat nav system.
It's very practical too with plenty of storage including a huge central box under the armrest where the iPod connector cable is. The centre console also has two cupholders which can - as an option - be fitted with a temperature control for keeping drinks warm or cold. It's a clever bit of kit and reasonably priced at £220. Each of the four doors also has space for a one-litre bottle.
There's plenty of passenger space in the ML and the rear seats have adjustable backrests. There is an armrest and cupholder plus a 'through-loading' feature for long objects such as skis. Folding both backrests as well as the seat cushions forward creates a level load compartment with a capacity of 2010 litres – almost three times the standard luggage capacity of 690 litres.
In terms of refinement the ML is impressively quiet on the move. Only the ML 250 CDI lets it down as the engine feels coarse for a premium SUV. No other 4x4 this size uses such a small engine - for instance the smallest engine in the BMW X5 is a 3.0-litre. But on the motorway, it's very quiet helped by a high-insulation windscreen additional sealing in the side sections and even redesigned mirrors.
Standard equipment includes:
All models get 19-inch AMG five-spoke alloy wheels, active bonnet to minimise pedestrian injury, Attention Assist, CD stereo with Becker Map Pilot navigation system, automatic climate control, brushed aluminium cabin trim, LED daytime running lights, LED tail lights including third brake light, Electronic Stability Programme, seven airbags including driver’s knee bag, 7G-TRONIC Plus seven-speed automatic transmission with Direct Select gear lever and steering wheel paddles, ECO start/stop system, Direct Steer variable-assistance power steering, Downhill Speed Regulation (DSR) with switch and variable speed control, 4MATIC intelligent electronic permanent four-wheel drive, 4ETS electronic traction system, Active Park Assist including Parktronic, electronic tailgate opening/closing, electric front seat adjustment and electric four-way lumbar adjustment, door centre panels with ribbed design in Artico artificial leather, headlamp assist automatic headlamp activation, Hill Start Assist, sports seats in Black Dinamica/Artico artificial leather, sports steering wheel and sports stainless steel pedals with rubber studs, AMG body styling with front and rear aprons and side skirts, aux-in socket and USB port, Bluetooth, electric windows with one-touch opening and closing, exterior mirrors, heated and electronically adjustable, remote central locking, tyre pressure loss warning system, privacy glass from B-pillars backwards, rain-sensing wipers, roof rails with aluminium finish, steel space-saver spare wheel and metallic paint.
ML 63 AMG has AMG ride control sports suspension, active curve system cornering roll stabilisation, Airmatic air suspension with Active Damping System, AMG speed-sensing electro-mechanical power steering, 20-inch five-spoke AMG alloy wheels, AMG high-performance braking system, AMG body styling, electrically adjustable AMG heated sports seats, AMG performance steering wheel with perforated leather, AMG door sills in stainless steel, AMG floor mats and an electric sliding glass roof.
Child seats that fit a Mercedes-Benz ML-Class (2012 – 2015)Our unique Car Seat Chooser shows you which child car seats will fit this car and which seat positions that they will fit, so that you don't have to check every car seat manufacturer's website for compatibility.
What's the Mercedes-Benz ML-Class (2012 – 2015) like to drive?
The engine that powers the the ML250 BlueTec (a posh name for CDI) is actually a 2.1-litre diesel but it's not the most quiet or powerful diesel that you will find in an SUV of this size. It does provide decent amounts of pull and more importantly, astonishingly low emissions. With CO2 of 158g/km it's the lowest emitting of the range and - at launch - of any large 4x4. That puts it in Road Tax Band G and means official economy of 44.8mpg
It's an engine that's already popular in other Mercedes-Benz models, including the C-Class, E-Class, S-Class and SLK, with buyers drawn to its low emissions. What it lacks in outright power is partly made up for with a two-stage turbocharger, which provides extra punch for overtaking. The 250 CDI seems to work much better in this Mercedes-Benz than others.
It seems less coarse, more refined and well suited to the two-plus tonne M-Class. It's no drag racer, getting to 62mph in 9.0 seconds, but it does have plenty of pulling power, with 500Nm of torque. As with all models, it comes with the 7G-Tronic automatic gearbox as standard which is smooth if not especially responsive. It's fine if not rushed but when you ask it for immediate acceleration it can be tardy and isn't suited to the hard acceleration and heavy braking kind of driving on country lanes.
For more poke, there’s the ML350 BlueTec. The 0-62mph time tumbles to 7.4 seconds, though the gap in performance between the ML250 and ML 350 isn’t as wide as you may expect. It feels quicker than the ML250 under heavy acceleration, but there's little to choose between them when driving around town or cruising on the motorway. However, as it's a V6 engine it's much smoother and better suited to the upmarket nature of the ML.
With 620Nm of torque it's not short of pulling power but it's still reasonably economical, helped by an engine start/stop system. Official economy is 39.2mpg with emissions of 189g/km. As with most Mercedes-Benz models there's a bonkers AMG model. In this case it's the ML63 AMG which is powered by a 5.5-litre V8
Rather impressively, the M-Class can really do the business off-road. Underneath the smart looks, there is some impressive hardware. All cars have 4MATIC permanent all-wheel drive, 4ETS electronic traction control and an off-road button which activates a special off-road driving mode. There’s also a system to make hill starts (and descents) easier, which can be controlled via the cruise control stalk.
An optional turn-dial system – not dissimilar to Land Rover’s Terrain Response – allows the driver to set up the car for different condition. A total of six different settings are offered, including Automatic, Off Road 1, Off Road 2, Winter, Trailer and Sport. In practice, it makes light work of even the most demanding off-road terrains, as the car’s electronics take care of configuring the perfect settings.
Iit doesn’t get bogged down in soft ground and will even tackle gradients of up 80 per cent. Ground clearance is 285mm, while the wading depth is 60cm, plus there's an underguard, a two-stage transfer case with reduction gear, an inter-axle differential so it can be considered in the same company as the Land Rover.
|ML250 BlueTec||46–46 mpg||9.0 s||160–163 g/km|
|ML350 BlueTec||39 mpg||7.4 s||189 g/km|
|ML63 AMG||24 mpg||4.8 s||276 g/km|
Real MPG average for a Mercedes-Benz ML-Class (2012 – 2015)
Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.
Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.
Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.
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