Attention foreign diplomats, drug lords and anyone living in Bogotá, Colombia: your new ride is ready. Mercedes-Benz is introducing an armored version of its M-Class SUV, the latest addition to its Guard family of vehicles.
The Germans know a thing or two about armor, and the ML is built like a Königstiger tank from the Second World War. The truck’s passenger compartment is protected by special laminated glass, while the A-, B- and C- pillars as well as the roof and firewall are constructed of special steel that “increases structural firmness.”
The Mercedes M-Guard was designed from the beginning for armored-car duty. During development, engineers incorporated special attachments into the vehicle’s structure. They allow for the easy addition of protection elements. The company claims this ground-up approach is more effective than adding armor to a vehicle after the fact.
What does all of this mean? Well, the M-Guard complies with the VR4 protection class in accordance with BRV 2009 (Bullet Resistant Vehicles 2009) standards. In plain language it can resist hand-grenade blasts as well as bullets fired from .357 and .44 Magnums. Inspector “Dirty” Harry Callahan would approve.
SEE ALSO: 2012 Mercedes-Benz ML 350 BlueTEC Review
Supporting the added mass of all that armor, the special-service ML features a standard AIRMATIC suspension with adaptive dampers. It’s also been fitted with stronger axles to handle the increased weight. Run-flat tires add additional piece of mind.
Surprisingly the addition of armor plating does not detract from passenger space or luxury. The M-Guard’s luggage capacity and payload ratings are identical to a standard M-Class.
The M-Guard is offered with two different engine options. The base powerplant is an efficient and torque-rich BlueTEC diesel V6. It puts out 258 horsepower. If gasoline is a more appropriate fuel a 408-horsepower V8 is also available. A seven-speed automatic is the only transmission offered.
With the addition of the ML 350 and ML 500 Guard models Mercedes-Benz offers customers nine armored vehicles to choose from. The lineup runs from the ever-popular E-Class to the flagship S-Class. Even the military-grade G-Class is in on the action.
The new armor-plated Mercedes M goes on sale March 15. In Germany the ML 350 Guard starts at €105,050, about $137,000. The ML 500 Guard model kicks off at a richer €118,650, roughly 155 grand.
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