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by Brett Davis

Mercedes-Benz has been caught testing the upcoming Mercedes-Benz ML-Class again. Although it still has some camouflaging material around the lights, the bodywork is almost completely revealed. The interior has also been captured clearly by our spy photographer.

It’s here that we begin to see the effects of car designer trading though. Previously, Korean cars used to look like Mercedes-Benz and BMW cars. Nowadays, it almost seems the reverse – like this upcoming ML: it looks like a Korean car… an old Korean car. There’s still thin door frames and indented door handles that we first saw in the Nineties.

Brands such as Kia and Hyundai have stepped up in the world of automotive design and are now far more developed as far as the application of futuristic lines and shapes to go. Put this ML next to the new Kia Sportage (marketing gimmick aside) and the ML looks dated already. Is this because Korean car designers are stepping too far into the future and bringing out designs that are perhaps too early for release?

Or is it simply that the Korean car designers have been ‘drafted’ from some of the biggest and best manufacturers in the league, leaving the big guns with very little. Take Kia’s chief designer for instance, Peter Schreyer, he used to work for Volkswagen and was a big influence on the original Audi TT creation and the new Beetle. Now he spends his days in a perhaps a more flexible environment with Kia where traditional designs don’t need to be followed so strictly.

The 2011 Mercedes-Benz ML does look solid though sticking true to Mercedes-Benz roots. It also appears more of a wagon than the previous and existing models, possibly offering a deeper cargo area. The wheelbase is said to remain the same length, but the overhangs on the front and particularly the rear, could be changed.

From the front it looks like a modern Mercedes. The big grille and bonnet vents also give the car an aggressive stance.

While the rear is wide and tall. The rear also looks as though it incorporates S-Class style tail lights that extend onto the tailgate.

Inside, there’s a new dashboard with a big, deep LCD screen that dominates the chunky new centre fascia. The driver appears to be handling the main command knob to the in-car systems. Check out the instrument panel behind the wheel too with the gauges arranged on a concave panel.

There’s been no official word as to when the new ML-Class will be launched but expect a late-2011 release.




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