It may have taken a while for a diesel model to be offered, but it has been worth the wait. While price alone makes it an attractive proposition, performance from the 163bhp engine makes an even stronger case. As with most turbodiesel engines, there is plenty of torque on offer. It produces 273lb-ft between 1,800rpm and 2,600rpm with the standard six-speed manual gearbox and that figure rises to 295lb-ft with the optional five-speed automatic.
UK launch models had the £1,450 optional automatic transmission which can be used as a conventional automatic or as a manual by using the tip shift feature. In most situations, the gearbox is best left in fully automatic mode where it combines well with the torquey engine to produce a 116mph top speed and 0-62mph acceleration in 11.6 seconds.
But to get extra engine braking the tip shift system can be used. On the road, the ML270 does not feel like a tall off-roader with a high centre of gravity. Ride is car-like and motorway work is dispatched with ease.
But this on-road refinement has not been made with any sacrifice to the car's off-road capability. We tackled two courses and the ML270 passed with flying colours.
Off road the tip shift gearbox came into its own by providing essential engine braking when going down hills. Traction control also helps keep matters in check and a low-range gearbox is selected by pressing a button on the dashboard. The arrival of the ML270 provides an attractive entry point into the M-class range. With a competitive price, low running costs and rock solid residual values, there should be plenty of ML270s topping user-choosers' lists.