The Good, The Bad and the Ugly
The heading is very misleading, as the only words really applicable are ‘the Good’.
My family and I had the chance to travel extensively with the BMW X5 diesel, the Mercedes ML 400 and the Toyota Prado VX petrol – three totally different vehicles and most probably intended for very different environments and driving experiences. That said, I must confess that they each had capabilities to compete to a certain extent on any of the ‘expert’ levels where one of the others was seen as ‘king’.
One of my closest friends asked me if I ever write articles on vehicles that I find that I don’t like.
“Yes,” I said, “I will when I find one.”
I did tell him that, after having driven the BMW X5 over 4 000kms that “I didn’t like it”.
Being a BMW fan himself, he was very upset and thus asked me to elaborate.
“Well I don’t like its comfort!”
“I don’t like its roadholding ability!”
“I don’t like its handling, nor its cornering ability!”
“I don’t like the comfort of the seats or the positioning of the instruments!”
“I don’t like the ease of overtaking, nor the fuel consumption I got!”
My friend then brusquely commented that he supposed that the Prado and the Mercedes were my favourites.
“No, I don’t like them either.”
“The Mercedes is too silent!”
“I would probably fall asleep at the wheel!”
“I don’t like the way it handles the uneven roads!”
“I don’t like all the wonderful technical wizardry that makes driving so easy!”
“I don’t like the acceleration from the powerful V6 engine!”
“I don’t like the way it just reacts with its lane-changing warnings! I don’t like the way the blind-spot indicators scream at me when I cut in front of another vehicle!”
“I don’t like the way the Mercedes warns me that I am tired!”
“Those are but a few things I don’t like.”
He then said: “I am too scared to ask about the Prado.”
“And rightly, I said. It is on a par with the other two, even if they do differ and even if the Prado is the vehicle that can do serious off-road travelling.”
“I don’t like the softness of the suspension when going over the rutted roads!”
“I don’t like the plush interior, nor the superbly finished leather seats!”
“I don’t like the way it climbed up the bad hillside roads!”
“I don’t like the ease with which it stopped with cows crossing the road!”
“I don’t like the size of the cavernous boot!”
“I don’t like the fuel consumption of the V6 motor, nor the power when accelerating!”
“I don’t like the way it cruises on tar or dirt!”
My friend then shouted at me with real concern and said: “How can you say all those things and yet you write articles that are supposed to reflect your true feelings of your experiences?”
I just smiled and said: “I am not lying. I don’t like them, I LOVE THEM!”
I just love each and every aspect of all three of these vehicles. They are great vehicles in their own right, and, really, there is nothing to choose between them – only your personal preferences and specific desires for power, comfort or off-road ability are reasons for making a choice. I would go into serious off-road country with the Prado and travel through Africa.
The Mercedes Benz ML is a great day-to-day vehicle and is as luxurious and capable as any saloon. What is more, it is great value for money.
If I wanted a tourer with excellent capabilities on tar, gravel and sand, as well as good fuel consumption, the BMW X5 3.0 diesel would be my choice.
Our family’s overall comment on all three vehicles was that they are really technically advanced vehicles that would easily pass any test given them, yet they still remain great vehicles to drive.
The differences lie in the equipment levels that are either part and parcel of the basic vehicles or the optional equipment that makes them stand out from one another.
Specifications at a glance
OUT OF OFFICE |
by Carl Wepener
* Prices as at date of publishing
3 956cm3, V6 petrol
202kW at 5 600rpm
381Nm at 4 400rpm
0–100kmh in 9.2 seconds
BMW X5 xDrive 30d
2 993cm3, in-line 6
190kW at 4 000rpm
560Nm from 1 500 to 3 000rpm
0–100kmh in 6.8 seconds
0–100kmh in 9.2 seconds
2 996cm3, V6, bi-turbo petrol
245kW at 5 250rpm
480Nm from 1 600 to 4 000rpm
0–100kmh in 6.1 seconds
Model: Mercedes-Benz ML400 BlueEfficiency
Okay. Perhaps there is something to “the Bad and the Ugly” in the title to this article.
The bad was that I did not want to return any of the cars to the manufacturers. The ugly came when they told me what condition I would be in if I didn’t return the vehicles!
So, it was a no-brainer. I had to let go of the vehicles, but I didn’t like it.