‘It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single (or married) man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a Mercedes-Benz.’   And the new M-Class is one he should have a serious look at!

There is little chance of the M-Class going unnoticed!  This is a big, bold, brute of a machine, but cleverly styled to disguise its bulk, but the overriding impression it makes is one of extreme comfort, huge power and agile handling for one so large!

We had the perfect combination of traffic and road conditions to test its abilities recently, with a weekend in the West Country, from edging along in a Friday evening traffic jam, to driving it along tortuously narrow country roads in Devon, including right across Dartmoor, to putting it through its paces on the motorway.

In all these situations it was firm, responsive, and we felt extremely safe viewing the world from such an exalted position.


Mercedes M 350 posing on the shore line

We drove down to stay with friends in a tiny Devon village on Friday night, and it turned a few heads as we edged along the Devon lanes, and the next day had the same effect in Dartmouth where we visited an old publishing friend of mine, who has never felt the need to obtain a driving license, so it was of little interest to him, but much more so to his neighbours!

We then drove back up to Buckfastleigh on the southern edge of Dartmoor, and right across Dartmoor from south to north negotiating miniscule country lanes, narrow stone bridges and the tiniest of tracks, as we passed several magnificent Tors, ending up at ‘Two Bridges’, and finally descending back to civilisation in the form of the Endsleigh Hotel, north of Tavistock, where we had arranged to stay on Saturday night.

Mercedes M 350 off-road

Even as we arrived, the M-Class turned a few more heads, having just performed like a ‘chamois’ on Dartmoor, or whatever the Devon equivalent is; deftly negotiating the twists and turns in the road, it now relished being parked in a courtyard full of beautiful cars where it certainly held its own in the ‘good looks’ department.

The most disconcerting thing about this car was the way the engine went into ‘mute’ mode whilst standing idling, and then returned to life as soon as you touched the accelerator again!  This money-saving, planet-saving device was most effective if a little worrying at first until you have faith that the engine was indeed, still switched on!

This wonderfully decadent vehicle was loaned to us by one of our Business Members, namely The Ridgeway Group, who are now the 14th largest motor dealer in Britain, and cover an area including West Sussex, Hampshire, Dorset, Wiltshire, and Berkshire and into Oxfordshire.

They represent Mercedes-Benz, BMW, MINI, Audi and Volkswagen, amongst other marques and their success has been built on impressive customer care and attention.  The man who has created this impressive group is David Newman, who shows no signs of ‘resting on his laurels’ which include Motor Trader Magazine’s ‘Dealer Group of the Year 2012‘.

I highly recommend that you test-drive the Mercedes-Benz M-Class, and enjoy that feeling of safety and security that you only really get with a car of this size and performance; it is much lighter to drive that you might imagine, and has all the power you can possibly need, and is surprisingly economical.  We had the Diesel model, and it was the quietest Diesel I have ever driven; in fact we went from Winchester to Dartmouth, and back via Dartmoor and Tavistock,,Oakhampton, Exeter and on the A303, and it did it all on one tank of diesel, and we were not hanging around, although you can drive it very economically using the cruise control.

The only question I have about this superb machine is ‘who is it aimed at?  The traditional Mercedes ‘Estate’ fans may find it too big, whilst the serious off-roaders will find it too sophisticated for their purposes, and the ‘People Movers’ might find it too expensive, with prices running from £43,640 to £82,535 for the ultimate ML 63 AMG version, but most of the models are under £50,000.

What it is perfect for is transporting five adults in great comfort at high speeds, or for ferrying 7 children to school in great safety and style, and it would be perfect for driving south for the summer, with all your luggage safely stored in the cavernous boot, eating up those superb French roads, and looking stylish when you finally arrive at the Cote D ‘Azure!

On the other hand, I would recommend a weekend at the Endsleigh Hotel in April or May, when the newly restored gardens will be looking at their very best, with hundreds of Azaleas and Rhododendrons, Camellias, and Magnolia., and fishing on the River Tamar, the best salmon river in England, or wandering around its 103 acres of stunning gardens, and playing croquet on the terrace overlooking the river!

Wherever you go in this Mercedes-Benz, you will arrive feeling fresh, and relaxed, and looking forward to driving it again as soon as possible; my wife and I became quite attached to it over the weekend; so will you!

Mercedes M 350 in town showing its elegant lines

And now for the Technical Specifications:

Model: ML 350 Blue TEC

Kerb Weight: 2,175 kg

Towing Capacity (unbraked) 750  (braked)   2,950

Boot capacity:

Max. Behind 1st Row of seats: 2,010

Max behind two rows of seats: 690

Fuel Tank capacity 70/11

Turning circle: 11.80 metres

Fuel consumption:

Urban: 34.4     Extra-urban 42.2       Combined: 39.2

For exclusive The Vintage Magazine member offers contact: Gavin Jones at

Mercedes-Benz of Southampton

Part of the Ridgeway Group

George Curl Way, Southampton International Airport, Southampton SO18 2RZ Tel: 023 8008 9185



Branches also at Chichester, Portsmouth & Winchester

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Wednesday, March 13th, 2013