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Monday 16th January 2012

Driven: Mercedes ML63 AMG

The progenitor of the 'sporty SUV' gets a third iteration. We find out what the latest 5.5-litre biturbo version is like



Mercedes' AMG brand has been going from strength to strength in recent years. The likes of the SLS and increasingly capable hot versions of the C-Class and E-Class have really raised the awareness of AMG.


But while the cooking M-Class might not be the most obvious AMG model in the showroom, it has been a quiet success story.

Mercedes claims to have been the 'inventor of the performance 4x4' with the 1999 ML55 AMG and it has sold more than 24,000 worldwide since, enjoying a loyal following.

The German firm will be hoping that success continues when this new ML63 AMG arrives in showrooms in July. It certainly looks the part, an improvement on the standard M-Class (not the prettiest of 4x4s - especially at the rear). The front wings are 10mm wider to accommodate the massive 20-inch 265/45 tyres and if any pedestrian was still in any doubt about the ML's intentions, there is V8 BITURBO in chrome lettering between the front wheel and door.


As that badging suggests, under the ML63's bonnet is the same 5.5-litre twin-turbo V8 as seen in the AMG versions of the E-Class and CLS. That means 525hp, a 0 to 62mph time of 4.8 seconds and a 155mph limited top speed, not to be sniffed at considering the ML tips the scales at a shade over 2.3 tonnes.

There's also the optional AMG Performance package, giving you 557hp and lowering that 0-62mph time to 4.7 seconds, but denting your bank balance by an extra £6,500. It doesn't damage the 23.9mpg combined average fuel economy, though.

Of most interest among the changes are AMG's decision to alter the 4Matic four-wheel-drive system to deliver the power 40:60 to the front and rear axles (as opposed to 50:50 before) and also the new active anti-roll bars as part of Mercedes' Active Curve System.


It would be easy to dismiss both as small print on what is after all, still a big 4x4, but it doesn't need to say Vettel in your passport for you to notice the difference. Along with reasonably direct steering, the ML remains respectably flat even when cornering enthusiastically, and you rapidly forget just how big a car this is.

Few owners will throw their ML63 down a country road in the same manner as, say, a GT3, or expect the same kind of feedback, but the level of body control and pace that you can maintain remains astonishing. Encouraging you further to hustle the ML63 is the gorgeous engine note, which has a lovely full-throttle induction noise.

Even the ride quality is reasonable. That can't be said of cars with the Performance package though. It might get you an even more alluring exhaust note, but the larger 21-inch wheels and the liquorice-thin 295/35 tyres ruin the ride for little discernible gain.


Mercedes claims that it wanted to make a significant step up in terms of the interior feel and materials and it has succeeded. The dashboard and switchgear are a noticeable improvement on M-Classes of old (just as well, given the AMG's hefty price tag) and there's a good amount of space front and rear. A 1200-watt, 14-speaker Bang and Olufsen stereo is optional.

At double the price of the big-selling turbodiesel M-Class, nobody would pretend that the ML63 AMG isn't an extreme choice. Like the supercharged Range Rovers and Cayenne Turbos of this world, this is not a car for everyone. Which is exactly how we like it. If you can brave the fuel bills and are in the market for one, though, we reckon this is one of the best.


MERCEDES ML63 AMG
Engine
: 5461cc V8 twin-turbo
Power (hp): 525@5,250rpm
Torque (lb ft): 516@1,750rpm
0-62mph: 4.8 seconds
Top speed: 155mph (limited)
Weight: 2345kg
MPG: 23.9mpg (NEDC Combined)
CO2: 276g/km
Price: from £85,000 (est)






Nat Barnes
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toppstuff

Original Poster:

10,728 posts

132 months

[news] 
Monday 16th January 2012 quote quote all
Very nice. Very nice indeed.

Performance orientated SUV's are of course rather silly cars, one could argue, but if anyone seriously takes that view then they are looking at the wrong website.

If you don't think cars like the M class equipped with stonking big V8's are wonderful, go look at Whatcar? website instead. You do not belong here.

Of course, practical issues such as fuel economy mean that most of us would have to buy the diesel. But I am very happy to know that somewhere out there, people exist who choose a petrol V8 over a diesel.

We should thank them all and buy them a drink.

Anyone who would seriously suggest that a V6 diesel is preferable to a V8 in ANY car, let alone an SUV, is just wrong. Plain old wrong. As simple as that. We only choose diesels because we feel we have to.

kambites

40,152 posts

106 months

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Monday 16th January 2012 quote quote all
Utterly daft and completely pointless, but I'm glad it exists.

5439cc

324 posts

36 months

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Monday 16th January 2012 quote quote all
Expensive, but me likey very muchy.

MrTappets

802 posts

76 months

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Monday 16th January 2012 quote quote all
Thanks but no thanks Merc. I'm sure a lot of people will say 'At least be greatful cars like this still exist!' but I really don't see the appeal of super-SUVs. If you want big and heavy, you surely aren't interested in performance. Now one of the AMG saloon/coupes on the other hand...

Buff Mchugelarge

2,013 posts

35 months

[news] 
Monday 16th January 2012 quote quote all
What a completely bonkers/pointless car, especialy in todays finacial climate.

I love it. biggrin


(shame they'll mostly be driven into things by women)

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DJRC

21,902 posts

121 months

[news] 
Monday 16th January 2012 quote quote all
toppstuff said:
Very nice. Very nice indeed.

Performance orientated SUV's are of course rather silly cars, one could argue, but if anyone seriously takes that view then they are looking at the wrong website.

If you don't think cars like the M class equipped with stonking big V8's are wonderful, go look at Whatcar? website instead. You do not belong here.

Of course, practical issues such as fuel economy mean that most of us would have to buy the diesel. But I am very happy to know that somewhere out there, people exist who choose a petrol V8 over a diesel.

We should thank them all and buy them a drink.

Anyone who would seriously suggest that a V6 diesel is preferable to a V8 in ANY car, let alone an SUV, is just wrong. Plain old wrong. As simple as that. We only choose diesels because we feel we have to.
The old V8 turbo diesel however, gets you the best of boths worlds. 300+ ponies and 500ft+ of torque. I love ours smile

sinbaddio

402 posts

61 months

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Monday 16th January 2012 quote quote all
Completely bonkers and utterly superb. An absolute winner IMO!smile

Luca Brasi

838 posts

59 months

[news] 
Monday 16th January 2012 quote quote all
Rear end still looks pretty damn nasty.

F1GTRUeno

2,380 posts

103 months

[news] 
Monday 16th January 2012 quote quote all
Much like every other current Mercedes, it's horrible.

But I wouldn't turn down a ride/drive in a 500bhp+ 4x4 being hurled down a road at a fast pace.

toppstuff

Original Poster:

10,728 posts

132 months

[news] 
Monday 16th January 2012 quote quote all
MrTappets said:
If you want big and heavy, you surely aren't interested in performance.
No no no no no no ! That sooo misses the point.

There are plenty of people who have to drive "big and heavy" because they have kids,trailers, boats, horseboxes, crap to move around. Why should these people be forced to sacrifice performance?

If they can pull a trailer with a boat on it AND enjoy a SUV with a V8, why should'nt they?

It is a mistake to assume that just because someone chooses a big car, they are not also interested in performance. Besides, the average buyer of a car like this probably has a GT3 in the garage as well.



kambites

40,152 posts

106 months

[news] 
Monday 16th January 2012 quote quote all
Am I the only one who doesn't particularly dislike the looks then? It's certainly not pretty, but it's better than the X5, A7 or Cayenne, to my eye.

Chris Stott

1,060 posts

82 months

[news] 
Monday 16th January 2012 quote quote all
Someone explain the point of cars like this?

They are ridiculously expensive to buy, cost a fortune to run, depreciate like a stone, you can't use more than a fraction of the performance on the road, but aren't exactly any good as occassional track day toys and the diesel version would make a much better job of being a workhorse... they just seem utterly pointless unless you're a footballer or live somewhere petrol costs peanuts (eg; Middle East).

frankthetank2

569 posts

69 months

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Monday 16th January 2012 quote quote all
fugly

uncle tez

443 posts

36 months

[news] 
Monday 16th January 2012 quote quote all
kambites said:
Am I the only one who doesn't particularly dislike the looks then? It's certainly not pretty, but it's better than the X5, A7 or Cayenne, to my eye.
Its definatly better than the others imo. People will moan about looking like a bigger version of all the other current mercs but i dont see that as a bad thing myself. Interior looks like a nice place to be aswell but the driver possition is currently set for a dwarf

toppstuff

Original Poster:

10,728 posts

132 months

[news] 
Monday 16th January 2012 quote quote all
Chris Stott said:
Someone explain the point of cars like this?

They are ridiculously expensive to buy, cost a fortune to run, depreciate like a stone, you can't use more than a fraction of the performance on the road, but aren't exactly any good as occassional track day toys and the diesel version would make a much better job of being a workhorse... they just seem utterly pointless unless you're a footballer or live somewhere petrol costs peanuts (eg; Middle East).
Read the thread above.

If you are not bothered about the fuel costs, why would a diesel be better?

And if you choose to drive an SUV, what is wrong with wanting to drive the fastest and best handling, best braking version if you can afford it?

Why is owning the best handling, best braking, best performance model of a range of cars pointless if you can afford it?



Bezerk

254 posts

44 months

[news] 
Monday 16th January 2012 quote quote all
Interesting to know where they are selling them (all engine types).
I see loads of Range Rovers and X5s around but not many MLs.

Dave Hedgehog

7,136 posts

89 months

[news] 
Monday 16th January 2012 quote quote all
stopping it will be fun ...

Prancing Hippo

153 posts

33 months

[news] 
Monday 16th January 2012 quote quote all
Chris Stott said:
Someone explain the point of cars like this?

They are ridiculously expensive to buy, cost a fortune to run, depreciate like a stone, you can't use more than a fraction of the performance on the road, but aren't exactly any good as occassional track day toys and the diesel version would make a much better job of being a workhorse... they just seem utterly pointless unless you're a footballer or live somewhere petrol costs peanuts (eg; Middle East).
____
True - fuel economy not great, handling will not be like a GT3, but they serve their purpose amazingly... What is that you ask? Awesome cars for blasting through Europe, 4-up, with ski kit, into the Alps for skiing, where on the German autobahns you can use the power. Likewise, once in the mountains, can get past trucks etc on the mountain roads heading up and know you wont get stuck thanks to the 4WD. Also great for towing boats and race trailers etc.

soad

18,644 posts

61 months

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Monday 16th January 2012 quote quote all
kambites said:
Utterly daft and completely pointless, but I'm glad it exists.
A bit like G Class then. Saw one just a day ago.

Chris Stott

1,060 posts

82 months

[news] 
Monday 16th January 2012 quote quote all
Prancing Hippo said:
____
True - fuel economy not great, handling will not be like a GT3, but they serve their purpose amazingly... What is that you ask? Awesome cars for blasting through Europe, 4-up, with ski kit, into the Alps for skiing, where on the German autobahns you can use the power. Likewise, once in the mountains, can get past trucks etc on the mountain roads heading up and know you wont get stuck thanks to the 4WD. Also great for towing boats and race trailers etc.
Blasting through Europe, having to stop every 200 odd miles to fill up? A ML350D will cruise at a similar speed and be at least 50% more economical. And a ML350D will be just as effective towing whatever you hang on the back.

It's inferior to a ML350D in every measurable way except acceleration (and noise... the AMG's do sound awesome!)... I still can't see the point in this car other than being a rich man's indulgence.
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