2009 Mercedes-Benz ML320 Bluetec 4Matic. Click image to enlarge
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Review and photos by Peter Bleakney
2009 Mercedes-Benz M-Class
Toronto, Ontario – At the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada’s annual TestFest last October, the five-seat $58,900 2009 Mercedes-Benz ML320 BlueTec 4Matic emerged victorious in the 2009 Best New SUV/CUV over $60,000 category, beating out the Lexus LX570, Infiniti FX50 and the Chevy Tahoe Hybrid.
Haven’t we already seen a diesel-powered ML? True, the 2007-2008 ML320 CDI was powered by essentially the same 3.0-litre turbo-diesel V6, but for 2009 the ML gets Mercedes’ super clean BlueTEC technology.
Like BMW and Audi, Mercedes-Benz is addressing diesel’s nitrogen-oxide (NOx) problem by injecting liquid urea (AdBlue) into the exhaust stream. The mixture passes through a special catalytic converter that neutralizes the NOx, reducing it to nitrogen and water vapour. This, in combination with its optimized combustion process and a particulate filter, allows the ML320 BlueTec to meet Bin 5 Tier II emission regulations, and as such, can be sold in all fifty states of the Union. The AdBlue reservoir is filled during regular service visits.
It seems we auto journalists have been singing the praises of the modern diesel for a while now, and yet with this Merc, I was still fielding the same old questions. Is it slow? Is it noisy? Does it stink? Let’s try this again. No, no. And No.
This is an impressive powerplant: the turbocharged common-rail injection 3.0-litre V6 generates 210 horsepower at 3,400 r.p.m. and a hearty 400 lb.-ft. of torque from 1,600-2,400 r.p.m. Coupled to the 7G-Tronic seven-speed automatic transmission, it provides smooth and effortless acceleration at any speed. Power gets to the ground via permanent 4Matic all-wheel-drive.
High torque and high mileage are the hallmarks of diesel power. Over a week of mixed city and highway driving, I saw 10.8 L/100 km. Not bad for a 2,255-kilogram luxury-ute that’ll scamper to 100 km/h in 8.6 seconds. You can hear a faint diesel clatter from the outside, but once in the cabin, the only real clue to its diesel-ness is the 4,400 r.p.m. redline.