At the threshold of summer, Mercedes-Benz announced the start of serial production of M-class all-terrain vehicles (ЗР, 1997, No. 5). Interest in them was heated long before the appearance, which is understandable. After all, Mercedes will make this car in America, and especially for America. Until now, the market for large generalists (“sports utilities”), whose sales in the United States number in the hundreds of thousands, almost completely belonged to the “big three”. To compete with its models in price, the plant was built there, in the USA. M-Class SUVs are the first cars with a three-beam star made in America.

The first-born of the family was the model ML320, shown on the cover. Graceful body shapes conceal the impressive dimensions of the machine (base - 2820 mm, overall dimension - 4587x2190x1776 mm). It is distinguished by good aerodynamics (Cx = 0.39), an impressive (up to 2 mz) cargo compartment volume, and a large (720 kg) load capacity. The third row of seats allows you to make ML320 seven-seater. Do not be surprised that the station wagon turned out to be heavy - 1930 kg of curb weight. After all, the car is frame-mounted, with a complex transmission - by the way, it uses the electronic ESP system, which stabilizes the movement on any wet, slippery, dirty coating that has already been tested in the E-class (ЗР, 1997, No. 5). And devices for passenger safety do not make an all-terrain vehicle easier.

However, the ML320 engine (V6; 3.2 liter; 160 kW / 218 hp) in a block with a five-speed “automatic” easily accelerates the massive Mercedes - from zero to “hundred” in 9.5 s, then to 180 marks on the speedometer. From the fall of next year, the M-class will be equipped with a 272-horsepower V8 engine with a volume of 4.13 liters.