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Sunraysia Daily Saturday, January 28, 2017
Mercedes-Benz M-Class 2006-2015
OST Mercedes-Benz M-Class SUVs are bought as
prestigious station wagons rather than a 4WD,
though some are use in off-road conditions and
there’s a package for those who want to get really
serious – more about it in a moment.
The first M-Class model had true 4WD body-on-chassis
construction, all others have a monocoque body with some
underbody strengthening to make it more suited to off-road
Mercedes-Benz M-Class first arrived in Australia in
September 1998 and has sold well in the two decades since
then thanks to a combination of image, price and 4WD ability.
These first models are slightly smaller, and significantly less
stylish than later ones. They are also getting on in years and
may be past their use-by date so we won’t detail them here.
Note that build quality was poor in the early days, those from
the early 2000 update are noticeably better than the originals.
Thanks to the tall station wagon body there’s plenty of
interior space in these big Mercs and the boot is a good size,
well-shaped and easy to load.
The high centre of gravity when compared to a car reduces
the cornering ability of an M-Class. However, electronic stability
aids make them hold the road remarkably well. Indeed, the
M-class corners safely at speeds well in excess of those likely to
be attempted by the average owner.
A second generation model replaced the original in
April 2006, it received a facelift and upgraded mechanical
components in January 2008. The gen-three arrived in Australia
in April 2012. Each version increased the stylishness of the
vehicle, but put ever more emphasis on on-road performance.
Mercedes-Benz offers a staggering range of four- six- and
eight-cylinder engines with naturally-aspirated petrol, turbo-
petrol and turbo-diesel setups. The turbo-diesels are generally
the favourites, but those who like a bit more driving pleasure
the V8s are the ride of choice.
At the top of the performance tree are the Mercedes-AMG
variants of the M-Class. These rocketships are much loved
in Australia and ours is one of the world’s biggest markets
Seven-speed automatic transmissions are fitted to all
M-Class vehicles from 2006. One with a manual gearbox is likely
to have been imported from Europe and could prove a real
hassle at resale time.
If do want to get seriously down and dirty the Mercedes Off-
Road Pro packages work well. The package adds adjustable ride
height and a two-speed transfer case as well as numerous other
As part of its umpteenth revision of model titles the
Mercedes M-Class was renamed the Mercedes GLE in 2015. Few
of these are on the used market yet so won’t be reviewed here.
The Mercedes-Benz dealer network has been well established
in Australia for many decades. As is the norm, most are in
metro areas, but there’s a decent number out of town as well,
the latter thanks to the popularity of diesel Mercs, cars and
SUVs, in the bush as well.
Spare parts aren’t overly expensive for what the vehicle is.
But if you’re upgrading from a less prestigious vehicle it might
be an idea to do so price comparisons before falling in love
with a Mercedes.
Insurance charges are reasonable for an imported German
luxury vehicle, reflecting some of the cost cutting that has gone
into the manufacture of the M-class. It’s made in the USA and,
relatively speaking, is built down to a price.
Few vehicles are more popular on the Australian used-car
market than Mercedes-Benzes with full service records. You will
almost certainly be asked to pay more, but smart buyers say
they are worth the additional outlay.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
Do preliminary inspections to the best of your ability then
call on the services of a professional before committing. A
Mercedes-Benz trained person is the best, motoring association
inspectors are the second choice for most potential buyers.
Make sure the engine starts easily, modern turbo-diesels only
take a second or two on the glow plugs and any longer could
indicate a problem.
Feel for the engine idling smoothly from the moment it fires
Make sure the engine pulls strongly without any initial
hesitation. Turbo units will have a little lag, make sure you
understand what to feel for, or call in a professional who does.
The automatic transmission should work almost
imperceptibly, even when worked hard by your right foot.
Clues to off-road use are light scratches to the body sides,
scars on bumper corners, scrapes on the underbody protection
Ferrying boisterous kids around the suburbs isn’t all that
easy on a 4WD, either. So have a good look over the interior,
particularly at the seat bases and in the vicinity of the door
controls. And don’t forget the luggage area.
CAR BUYING TIP
Want a 4WD to take off-road? Then go for one that’s already
been used in those conditions as it’s likely to be significantly
cheaper than those that only lived in the suburbs.
Used car review
2005 Mercedes-Benz M-Class
2008 Mercedes-Benz M-Class
2012 Mercedes-Benz M-Class
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