[YesAuto Evaluation] In 1998, when Mercedes-Benz began selling the first generation of M-class SUVs, the BMW X5 had not yet been born. Audi may not even draw the first drawing of the Q7. At that time, Mercedes-Benz was the world The leader of the luxury car market. But more than a decade later, who still remembers that Mercedes-Benz created the luxury SUV market? The street is full of X5 and Q7, no one will think of M grade in the first time. BMW and Audi are fighting fiercely for the global sales crown, but Mercedes-Benz gives up a piece of the world it has broken out. Mercedes-Benz is about to fight back: they launched a new generation of M-class, and also invited the king Federer.
You should have seen the new M-class commercial. Fei Tianwang drove the new ML through the forest and across the snowy field, calmly and at his fingertips. My colleague asked me: is this true? I said: No fake. The new Mercedes-Benz ML350 is an SUV that makes people feel good about it. Like Fei Tianwang, I can switch between different scenes with my fingers. Please note that it is an SUV, not a SAV, nor an RV. In this era of flying new concepts, there are fewer and fewer luxury SUVs that can cross-country and are suitable for road use. Mercedes-Benz is still insisting.
In order to test, or to enjoy the fun of ML350, we drove it to some places suitable for sprinkling. Although it is not a high-intensity off-road route, it may be a restricted area for Mercedes-Benz competitors.
Before embarking on the journey, my colleagues and I conducted a simple investigation on the capabilities of the ML350. This car has Mercedes-Benz’s 4MATIC four-wheel drive system. The ground clearance can be adjusted in 4 levels. The central limited-slip differential can remain locked so that the front and rear wheels get the same power output. The 4ETS four-wheel electronic traction distribution system will accurately control it. The torque obtained by each wheel, the transfer case can magnify the torque of the engine 3 times and output it to the tires. Finally, Mercedes-Benz uses a set of multi-road condition adaptation system (ON&OFFROAD package) to integrate these functions to simplify the complexity. The driver only needs to turn the knob to make these complex systems reach the ideal working condition to adapt to different road conditions.
The 3.5-liter V6 engine finally keeps pace with the times and is equipped with a direct fuel injection system. The power and torque have been improved, reaching 306 horsepower/6500 rpm and 370N·m/3500-5250 rpm, respectively. The 7G-TRONIC PLUS seven-speed automatic transmission improves the torque converter on the basis of the old model. In theory, it can have a faster response speed and better shift logic.
On the way to leave the city and return to the mountains, I had the opportunity to experience the comfort and road driving performance of this car in detail. The comfort of Mercedes-Benz seems to be an unnecessary topic, and almost every car is satisfactory. The comfort of the new M-class is much higher than that of the previous model. With a body weighing more than two tons and delicate shock adjustment, the stability and comfort are comparable to large luxury cars.
I vaguely remember that the previous generation of ML models had fairly good road driving capabilities and rich driving experience, and the new generation of models has improved road performance. The AUTO and SPORT modes in the multi-road condition adaptation system are designed for highway driving.
In SPORT mode, the air suspension height is reduced to -1, and the minimum ground clearance of the body is only 138mm, which is even lower than that of ordinary cars. In repeated comparisons, I found that the SPORT mode can effectively control the change in the center of gravity of the vehicle, and can maintain a higher limit in the multi-curved mountain road; at the same time, the steering force will also change, and the gearbox will be more active.
The AUTO mode is more suitable for driving on general urban roads. The normal suspension height balances comfort and driving performance, and the gearbox is not so aggressive, which can reduce some fuel consumption.
The driving performance of the new ML350 is indeed very good, but the small mistakes of the shift paddles and gearbox make it one step away from perfection. The paddle shifters are very convenient to use, but the gearbox's response is momentarily slow. In the frequent acceleration and braking changes on mountain roads, the gearbox will occasionally shift wrong gears, destroying comfort and power continuity. In short, in the era of 8AT and dual clutch, Mercedes-Benz's classic 7G-TRONIC gearbox has reached the age of retirement.
Leave the road and adjust the vehicle to high-speed off-road mode. This should be the most dynamic state of the new M-Class. At this time, the air suspension is raised to first gear, which is enough to cope with the rugged gravel road, and the vehicle can travel at a speed not higher than 100km/h. At this time, the appropriate body size of the new M-class allows it to have enough flexibility, and those luxury SUVs that are blindly seeking big may become awkward and sluggish here.
When encountering more rugged terrain, the low-speed off-road mode comes in handy. The body is raised again, and the center differential is locked at the same time. The maximum speed limit of the vehicle is 40km/h; the larger approach and departure angles, the four-wheel drive system more effectively distributes the power output, and the new M-class can cope with more savages. Terrain.
Of course, this is not the limit of ML350. If you encounter a slasher, you can manually adjust the suspension position to 3. At this time, the ground clearance will reach 285mm, and the approach angle and departure angle will be increased to 31° and respectively. 29°, enough to face most climbing and wading situations. At this time, if there are still insurmountable obstacles, you can try a low-speed four-wheel drive. The transfer case will magnify the engine torque by 3 times and transmit it to the 4 tires.
In our attempts, ML can easily climb a slope of 47% (approximately 27° slope angle). In theory, the engine's power is enough to support it to climb closer to 100% slope (45° angle). Finally, the ML350 also easily passed the cross-shaft test. The 4ETS four-wheel electronic traction control can effectively suppress the idling of the wheels, distribute the power to the wheels with adhesion, and help the vehicle get out of the predicament.
After testing the off-road performance of the ML350 in the field, we are convinced that it is a powerful SUV that can cross-country . Therefore, we decided to drive the ML350 for a real off-road crossing!
The destination is Datan Town in Chengde. The starting point is in Chicheng County, Zhangjiakou. Between the two points is a valley with almost no roads. Off-road enthusiasts call it the Laozhanggou crossing route, which climbs all the way from the mountains in northern Beijing to the Mongolian plateau. It combines sand, gravel, wading, shell craters, climbing and other common terrain and road conditions in the field.
The air suspension of the ML350 firstly ensures the vehicle has a good passability and raises the body to the highest level. We hardly need to worry about its approach and departure angles, nor do we need to worry about the damage to the chassis caused by potholes on the ground. The central limited-slip differential distributes the power continuously and evenly to the front and rear axles, and the vehicle can obtain stable driving force on soft sand and gravel roads. In the face of continuous shell craters causing cross-axis, the electronic limited-slip differential can also immediately stop the idling of the tires, ensuring that the vehicle has the power to move forward. When the vehicle is fully loaded for large-angle climbing, the Low Range low-speed four-wheel drive gear enables the vehicle to have sufficient traction.
With a multi-road condition adaptation system, even people with no rich experience can easily and quickly select the correct vehicle settings. At the same time, all state information during the driving process of the vehicle is reflected on the screen of the center console, and the driver can know the state of the vehicle at any time, including the front wheel steering angle, the pitch and roll angle of the body, the limited slip differential and The status of the transfer case, the real-time compression status of the four suspensions. Therefore, the new ML350 is not only a luxury SUV with strong off-road capability, but also a luxury SUV suitable for everyone. The easy-to-control system makes it no distance or barrier between it and the driver .
Although the entire climbing process is not as good as walking on the ground, the final result is quite satisfactory. A luxury SUV that must pay attention to road performance can also have the passing ability and the ability to get out of trouble close to the pure hard-core off-road vehicle. It is really civil and martial. Both. In order for everyone to watch it more intuitively, we have recorded the video below. It is strongly recommended that you click to watch it .
We brake, accelerate, and steer carefully throughout the journey, lest the sharp stones puncture the four delicate road SUV tires. This is the only concern. Of course, it is necessary to take into account the comfort, safety and handling of road driving, this is also the most reasonable tire configuration.
Finally, return to the regular performance test. A luxury SUV that can fully handle both road and off-road conditions, almost no one cares too much about its basic performance, right? Moreover, in the performance test, Mercedes-Benz's car has never appeared any unexpected situation.
In SPORT mode, the ML350 took 7.4 seconds to accelerate from a standstill to 100km/h. In the initial stage, the four tires did not waste a trace of power. They pressed firmly against the ground and pushed the body out. The highest G value even reached an astonishing 0.8g! The weight of more than two tons makes this performance unsustainable for too long, but compared with the 8.68 seconds of the old model, the new ML350 is really a huge improvement.
Mercedes-Benz’s performance in braking has always been reassuring. No matter what model it is, it can maintain its capacity at about 40 meters. This time the ML350 is no exception. The suspension supports the body much better than we expected, with a width of 255mm. The tires are combined with a powerful brake system, and finally its score is fixed at 40.74 meters.
to sum up:
Although all of us have praised the new ML350 these days, it is not a perfect car. Obviously, among the luxury SUVs that sell for nearly one million, the new M-class comfort configuration is lackluster, and rivals. In comparison, it has almost nothing to brag about. COMMAND human-computer interaction system and navigation system are the most inhumane and least practical in this level. Finally, what is incomprehensible and difficult to accept is that the active safety configuration of the new M-class is not leading, and even some low-level models are already equipped with merging assist, lane yaw assist, lane keeping, and automatic emergency. The braking system is not equipped on the M class. Don't forget, Mercedes-Benz has been leading the advancement of automotive safety technology in the past decades.
We all know that the new M-class is not perfect, but among millions of luxury SUVs, I still recommend it as the first choice. Because Mercedes-Benz's rivals have not yet created a model like the new M-Class that perfectly combines luxury, comfort, road driving, and off-road capabilities. In other words, other manufacturers have never made a real SUV, only Mercedes-Benz has done it.
Mercedes-Benz ML 350 parameter configuration table