Parkers overall rating: 2.5 out of 5 2.5

Base-unit 2.7 diesel is the best choice. It's smooth and refined but punchy when required whereas the 3.2 V6 is refined, but can be noisy when pushed. The ML55 AMG uses a 5.4 litre V8 and is amazingly powerful, but the chassis of the M-Class can't offer the composure or body control of the likes of the Porsche Cayenne or Range Rover Sport but it certainly shifts in a straight line.

Diesel comes with a five-speed manual gearbox as standard, all others come with a five-speed auto.

Excessive body roll through corners and a poor ride over rough roads is off-putting, though M-Class is capable on the motorway. There's an advanced traction control system that makes M-Class an able off-road performer although you wouldn't subject it to anything too extreme.