If you go for the optional air-suspension system you can tailor the ride to sporty or comfy. If not, you'll still get a fantastic ride
Excellent high-set driving position makes you feel like the king of the road
All the kit you would expect from Mercedes and added benefits of auto headlamps and immobilisation system
Mercedes scored well in the latest JD Power customer satisfaction survey
Great for luggage, as the seats fold down flat to give a huge loadbay. Five bods have enough room to sit in the lap of luxury
Luxury on the move as all models have cruise control, electric windows and smooth automatic transmission
The M-Class can't challenge BMW's X5 for agility; instead it focuses on comfort and refinement, and it does that very well indeed. It's particularly impressive at motorway speeds, where it irons out ripples in the road brilliantly. The price you pay for that soft suspension is quite of body lean, and the Merc's suspension does pick up on small bumps at low speeds. The 3.0-litre diesel engine is incredibly punchy and smooth, producing little more than a gentle hum as it slips seamlessly through the gears. In fact, the car is so quiet mechanically, it seems almost churlish to criticise the wind noise generated by the roof rails. The smaller engine in the 250 CDI is gutsy enough, but is a bit clattery under acceleration.
The M-Class has a huge cabin. There's more than enough room in the front for a couple of six-footers, and it's much the same story in the back, where the rear seats provide loads headroom. The boot, too, is an impressive size, with split-folding rear seats on every model. Few will have any complaints about the M-Class's driving position; there's plenty of adjustment in both the driver's seat and the steering wheel. The high-set position gives a good view out, and the car has an electronically operated parking brake, which frees up more space between the front seats. As you would only expect of such an expensive car, the M-Class comes with plenty of standard equipment. Alloy wheels, climate control, sat-nav and electrically adjustable front seats are all part of the package, and there's a seemingly endless list of options.
The M-Class was too new to feature in the most recent JD Power ownership satisfaction survey, but Mercedes as a brand finished an impressive fifth out of 27 manufacturers. There's a huge list of safety kit as standard, including stability control, front, side and curtain airbags are just the start. The M-Class scored 96% for adult safety in its Euro NCAP crash test, but only managed 75% for child protection.
The Mercedes M-Class is one of the very best large SUVs. It's not as sharp to drive as a BMW X5 or a Porsche Cayenne, but if comfort and refinement are your priorities, the Merc takes some beating.