When?: May 15, 2012
How much?: Rs 65 lakh upwards
Variants: ML 350 CDI in May, ML 250 and ML63 AMG later
The new Mercedes-Benz ML promises to be larger, better handling and more powerful than before. And if we are to go by the specifications, it seems it is. While the first lot of cars might be available as CBUs, Mercedes-Benz is working double time to get the first of the CKDs out some time soon after.
MBIL will launch the ML 350 CDI to begin with, though there are signs that it won't be the only engine variant. In the next 12 to 15 months, Mercedes is contemplating bringing in the ML 250 CDI and the monstrous ML 63 AMG as well. If that does happen, expect Mercedes-Benz to hit its competition pretty hard from all corners.
The ML 350 CDI packs quite a punch – 258 bhp (up nearly 34 bhp on the last car) and an impressive 63 kgm of peak torque. MB claims that the car is now 0.2 seconds quicker to 100 kph at 7.4 seconds and has a top speed of 224 kph. A new updated 7-GTronic seven-speed automatic gearbox does duty in the ML 350 CDI. Start-Stop would be standard on all variants of the ML.
Mechanically too, the car boasts of double wishbone suspension and a new steering system that makes the car more responsive and agile. On the inside, the new ML is a bit more spacious, well appointed and has an updated multimedia system as well. It has vertical rectangular air-intake vents as well as a 14.7 cm display for the Comand system.
One thing that won't change is the fact that the ML will continue to remain a five-seater and that does make it more of a competitor to the likes of the BMW X5 and Porsche Cayenne, rather than the Audi Q7. With the CKD model, Mercedes-Benz will not only assemble the car here in India, but will also do the same for the motor at Force Motors. In due course, it will be painted in-house as well as Mercedes-Benz will have the Rs 200 crore, state-of-the-art paint shop up and running before the end of the year. All of this could mean that the price could drop a bit when the CKD model does arrive a few months down the line.