After letting Phil coo over his new acquisition for a bit, I snuck in and stole the keys to the C&P Mercedes-Benz ML 350 while he wasn’t looking. I’ve managed to hold onto it for a few days now, and although my time in it has been restricted to a few motorway runs to and from the office, I intend to keep the weighty plastic fob in my possession for as long as possible.
Why? Well, for a start, it’s a looker. Leaving my building in the morning I’m faced with a lean-looking SUV, with aggressive lines and a meaningful stance. OK, the interior has more leather than a biker’s café, but it still looks the biz, and the white paint is very Dubai, although it gets dirty far to easily.
I like the little drawers in the dashboard, which give me somewhere to leave my phone while on the move and I’m pleased to see on the display screen that it has an auxiliary input for MP3 players, although I haven’t actually found it yet.
On the road, the V6 engine is gruffer on acceleration than I expected, with a mechanical descant to it; a pleasant change from the world of sanitised whirrs that I’ve got used to. I’ll wait until longer trips are completed before I decide whether the extra noise adds to the ML’s character or gets annoying after a while.
The handling isn’t too shabby, based on my first impressions. Although it’s got a high centre of gravity, there’s good grip when haring around sweeping on and off ramps, although the front hints at a keenness to push wide given half a chance. After a spirited circling of a roundabout resulted in a chorus of tyre squeal and an orange flashing ESP light on the dash, I won’t be taking it on any track days or thrashing it through mountain roads, but it’s nice not to fear the common SUV curse of vague wobbles through the bends. I had a bit of fun wanging it around a nearby multistorey car park while Phil took pictures, too.
So, good first impressions from the big Merc, but I intend to gather plenty more before anyone else gets a go.