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Mercedes ML 350 and Range Rover Sport in the test

Hans-Dieter Seufert
Mercedes ML 350 and Range Rover Sport in the test
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If the car duel were like boxing, these two should not compete against each other. Because they play in totally different weight classes. While the certainly stately Mercedes ML 350 Bluetec with 2,255 Kilograms takes on the role of the flyweight, the needle of the scales trembles at 2,635 kilograms when you R ange Rover enters Sport TDV6 with its huge 19-inch wheels.

There are two different philosophies behind the two SUVs

Already with this the two indicate that behind them there are two fundamentally different car philosophies. In the core of its heavy bodywork, the Rover is neither Range nor Sport. It is not based on the direction still under BMW developed 'real' Range Rover, but on the much cheaper Land Rover Discovery , which was created during the Ford era. And sport? Forget it, this is a luxury off-road vehicle made entirely according to the classic pattern, which lacks nothing that is useful for serious off-road use.

The Range Rover is already equipped as standard for off-road situations

The Mercedes belongs more to the fashionable SUV clan. If you want to go into the wild with it, you have to order an off-road package that includes locks for the center and rear axle differentials as well as a selectable short off-road gear ratio for 2,130 euros. These are the stars that the all-wheel drive driver proudly wears - even if he doesn't need them in real life. After all: The British competitor has everything on board as standard, plus an extensive range of electronics that equips it for a wide variety of terrain. The effect for the driver, if he should get sidelined: Everyone can drive off-road like a professional.

In trafficyou feel like you are in a higher sedan

If it is not a question of traction, angle of approach and fording depth, the difference in design is still noticeable. In the Mercedes you feel like you are in a raised limousine. The seating position is completely car-like, unfortunately also the clarity of the body. If you want to maneuver with millimeter precision, you have to stretch your neck as far as it will go. You don't sit in a Range Rover, you sit enthroned. High above the traffic, in front of you is a flat bonnet that can be seen up to the corners. The waistline, which is very low in relation to the driver, also provides a non-adjustable view of the outside. You feel like you're in a glass house, which makes handling easier, even if it's not about throwing stones, but just moving a mighty automobile in heavy traffic.

The Range Rover has learned a lot when it comes to driving safety

It belongs to a Range Rover that has been planted 40 years ago. But otherwise the British status symbol has learned a lot. The fact that a real off-road vehicle requires certain concessions in terms of driving safety on the road - veteran aficionados will remember spectacular Schwank inserts - is a thing of the past thanks to sophisticated chassis electronics. Even under the extreme conditions of the driving tests, the range arrows through the cones in a way that makes you forget your excess weight. On winding roads, it is almost a sporting pleasure once you get used to the fact that its steering is extremely smooth, but only works with limited contact with the road. Even the huge disc brakes, three centimeters larger on the front axle than those of the Mercedes, take the load off completely unimpressed.

The Mercedes ML sees itself primarily as a road car

The Mercedes, who is surprised, can do all of this as well. Because it primarily wants to be a street car, it is even more active when driving. Its steering requires precisely that additional portion of power that is necessary for an unfiltered feeling for the road. He drives himself as a matter of course in a good limousine. Also in terms of suspension comfort. When the air suspension (1,999 euros), which is subject to a surcharge, is installed in the test car, it is even superior to the air-sprung range that is already standard. Both offer their occupants a comfort that gently disguises the condition of the road, but the Briton tends to stumble on the cross waves of the autobahn, while the Mercedes pulls its course calmly.

Mercedes ML and Range Rover Sport with new diesel engines

Automobile giants like these two drive best on diesel, that's an old saying. The test cars even have the most modern designs of the two manufacturers under theHood. The Range Rover's V6 is a completely new design that, thanks to the twin turbo, delivers even more power and torque from a three-liter displacement than the Mercedes machine of the same volume. Both reassure the green conscience, which alone the appearance of the heavy Brummer could burden. The range six-cylinder is classified in emission class Euro 5. The Mercedes V6 is currently one of the cleanest diesels in the world: with additional urea injection, it already meets the limits of the upcoming Euro 6 standard.

The driving performance is almost equal

Both engines run very civilized and quietly, both shaking such amounts of torque from the crankshaft that driving is remarkable Ease is shaped. The automatic gearbox also contribute to this - six-speed for the range, seven-speed for Mercedes - who do their job with the greatest possible inconspicuousness. The driving performance is almost equal, the weight of the Range Rover consumes the extra power again. And it ensures, physics wants it that way, for significantly higher consumption. This contributes to the fact that ultimately not quite as many points are recorded as with the Mercedes. But the appeal of the alternative isn't ultimately about being better. But different.

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