What is it?
Arguably the most interesting real-world prospect brought by the new third generation Mercedes M-class: a four-cylinder diesel version.
Alongside the rest of the ML range, the ML 250 Bluetec will be available to UK customers as of April 2012, when it’ll be the only large premium-brand SUV of its kind that emits less than 160g/km of CO2. Using Mercedes’ twin-stage turbodiesel 2.2-litre engine, it offers 201bhp and 369lb ft of torque, channeled through a seven-speed automatic gearbox.
So can that engine be enough for sufficiently authoritative performance, or sufficiently silken refinement, in as plush a luxury vehicle as an ML? And can any two-something-tonne 4x4 really be made to hit a real world 47mpg?
What’s it like?
Predictably, it’s got a finite quantity of thrust on offer away from a standstill and during overtaking, but matched with Merc’s seven-speed torque converter ‘box, the ML 250’s four-cylinder powerplant does a very respectable job of hauling the ML’s bulk. It won’t excite you, but provides performance on a par with plenty of larger and heavier 4x4s we could mention.
Although you can tell it’s a four-pot, the ML 250 Bluetec’s refinement is excellent too. Quieter and better-mannered than we’ve experienced in various Mercedes saloons, the engine’s noise and vibrations are very well suppressed. This isn’t an engine you’ll enjoy listening to, but thankfully it’s not particularly vocal either.