Last Chance To Buy: Mercedes M-Class

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Indy Lifestyle Online

What's good about it?
Well, you can get plenty of people on board, up to seven, and lots of drivers respect the all-wheel drive 4-ETS system. Mainly, though, it's all about the badge. It provided an upmarket alternative to the old Range Rover. Off the road, the traction control system was surprisingly effective at getting the M-Class out of muddy trouble. Build quality certainly got better in the last few years, when the vehicle was revamped, and that meant that the dashboard became easier to useand well laid out. Standard equipment included a super-efficient air-con system, alloy-wheels traction control, and a selectable four-wheel drive system. And the safety kit included six airbags.

What's bad about it?
Mercedes has been building trucks for decades, and when the M-Class first arrived it didn't have the solidity of previous products. Compared with the Range Rover, it never managed to be as good on as off the road. If it was capable off-road, on-road it rolled a bit on corners. Then there's the only slightly exciting model in the shape of the ML500, which is quick but thirsty.

How much?
Motorhouse 2000 had a 55-registered ML350 automatic at £28,999, which was retailing for a hefty £34,150. Virgin cars.com had some pre-registered 2005 ML320 models at £30,399, saving just over £3,500.

Any snags?
A couple of recalls relating to disengaging seat belts and leaking power-steering fluid. Reliability-wise, it has seen minor electrical faults, and some manual gearboxes on diesels have failed under pressure.

Fact File
Launched: 1988
Engine: 270Cdi, 320 V6, 430 V8, 500 V8, AMG ML 55V8
Performance: 320 top speed 112 mph 0-60mph 9.5 seconds
Economy: 21.7 mpg
NCAP: 4 stars

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