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Mercedes-Benz ML500 (2008)
The power and the glory comes at a price.
This was driven home emphatically when we poured more than 70 litres of premium unleaded into our test Mercedes-Benz ML500 during one refill.
Our hip pocket nerve twinged painfully when the bowser rang up well over $100 in return for some 400 km of mostly around town driving.
The fuel consumption Benz claims is 13.4-litres/100 km, but we averaged 18.6.
Such is life in the 21st century should you choose a 5.5-litre V8 propelling 2.2 tonne of comfort, style and refinement as your city commuter.
Of course, Benz does offer a choice of its ML derivatives: there are the 280 and 320 diesel and 350 petrol variants (expect these smaller variants to be more frugal), as well as the mighty range-topping 63 AMG.
But as well as revealing the ML500’s liking for a drink, our test also showed it to be a car for any occasion.
Want it to be like a luxurious big saloon? No worries, the ML500 belies its size with impressive tractability and good manners in city driving.
But demand something more over, say, a serpertine country road, and the ML500 hunkers down on its standard Airmatic suspension and invites inspection of its copious performance envelope containing 285 kW of power and 530 Nm of torque.
A seven-speed auto delivers this good mail smoothly and intuitively, whatever and wherever.
The ML500 comes with permanent 4Matic all-wheel-drive electronic transfer system as standard, including traction and stability control, which guarantees sure-footedness under all conditions.
Not that many might want to go there, but should you venture off road the big Benz is up for it.
This is despite its bitumen-biased low profile road tyres and absence of lockable diffs or low range gearing (available as an option pack).
The ML500’s passage is made easier by the air suspension’s ability to elevate at low speed and hence assist clearance.
A comprehensive active safety package includes Benz’s acclaimed Pre-Safe occupant protection system, which detects via the anti-lock brakes and stability control sensors when an impact is imminent.
This then primes the airbags (there are eight) and seat belts, as well as closes windows and sunroof to maximise protection for this onboard.
Comfort levels are what we have come to expect of a vehicle bearing the famous three-pointed star - superb.
Performance, quality, luxury
Foot-operated park brake, thirst
|Price when new
|Current price range
$ - $
|ANCAP crash rating
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||285 kw @ 6000 rpm
||530 Nm @ 2800-4800 rpm
|Acceleration to 100 km/h
|Braking from 80 km/h
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This review is based on road testing conducted by The Road Ahead. Further vehicle reviews, in-depth comparisons and coverage of consumer motoring issues can be found in the Club's magazine. Prices listed were current at the time of review and are manufacturers list prices and do not include statutory and delivery charges. Prices can vary from time to time and dealer to dealer.