Review: Mercedes ML63 AMG
In AMG guise, the ML is bloody quick, unsurprisingly comfortable and surprisingly agile. Could you ask for more?
Think about a stunningly quick sports utility vehicle and the first name that comes to mind is the Porsche Cayenne Turbo S. It takes 4.5 seconds to hit the ton from standstill, making it the fastest production SUV in the world as of today. The few SUVs that comes close to it are the Cayenne Turbo and the BMW X6 M (not available in India), which are 0.2sec off the Turbo S' pace, and that’s exactly how close Mercedes has got with the newly-launched ML63 AMG.
The ML63, equipped with the Performance Package, develops 550bhp and 760Nm, extracted from of a 5.5-litre, twin-turbo petrol V8 that’s also seen on the other two AMG SUVs, the G63 and GL63. And while they aren’t highly-rated when it comes to 0-100kph numbers, the ML63 does it in a respectable 4.7 seconds. Respectable, because for an SUV that weighs in excess of 2,300kg, managing to cross the 100kph in under five seconds is an impressive achievement.
Thankfully, the ML63 isn’t only about power and uncontrollable aggression. It’s an SUV with secret aspirations of being a sportscar. Along with raw power, it’s an SUV that scores well in terms of ride and handling too. Every visit to the redline will result in you being pinned back into the seat. And apart from its brutal acceleration and devastatingly-quick pace, it will take steering orders from you and get the work done as asked, but not without a slight hint of aversion.
There’s surge of power from 2,000rpm and before you know it, the needle will have breached the 6,000rpm mark every time the AMG-spec 7G-tronic gearbox upshifts. Be it driving leisurely in the city or bolting down the expressway, there’s never a moment you are left wanting more power. Slot the gearstick in D, choose Eco mode and that should take care of the conditions you face. For everything else, there’s Sport mode, which quickens the shifts and the engine revs harder before shifting to a higher gear. Further, there’s Manual mode, that will climb to the redline and stay there till you don’t change gears manually with the help of paddle-shifters.
The thrill doesn’t end with the spiky performance in S and M mode, the quad tailpipes produces a well-orchestrated, heavy bass melody that further accentuates the experience. It’s an integral part of the AMG package that adds to the overall drama, urging you to repeatedly to give her the beans, just to hear the mighty V8 roar.
What also surprised us was the manner it exhibited poise on all sorts of Indian road conditions. The ML63 rides on 20-inch alloys and 265/45 section tyres that do a decent job of ironing out undulations. You could choose from Comfort, Sport or Sport+ modes, depending on the kind of surface you are driving on. Plus, there’s a lot of tech that's gone into making it good at cornering hard – things like the Active Curve and Adaptive Damping System, along with the air suspension provide an improved ride and stability. The overall ride is good, and handling is not bad for an SUV of this size.
As far as looks go, the ML63 with the AMG body kit looks all the more mean. The inside story isn’t all that different too. There’s a mix of high-grade materials consisting of leather, piano-black inlays, aluminium trim elements, attractive instrument cluster and four-spoke steering wheel, all lending a sporty feel.
Plus, with a bucketful of creature comforts and safety features, the ML63 takes good care of its occupants. Apart from being monstrously powerful, this AMG SUV is dynamically sound too. Obviously, it still doesn’t handle like a sportscar, but does a far better job than the other hulking AMGs. At Rs 1.49 crore (ex-showroom, Delhi), which is Rs 83 lakh more than the respectably-powerful ML350 CDI, the ML63’s sticker price does make it difficult to sign that cheque off. But then, if all you ever wanted was an immensely powerful and civilised AMG SUV, then your quest ends here.
V8, 5461cc, twin-turbo petrol, 550bhp, 760Nm, 7A, 0-100kph in 4.7sec (claimed), top speed: 250kph (restricted), efficiency: 5.8kpl (tested), 2,345kg, tyre: 265/45 R20, Rs 1.49 crore (ex-showroom, Delhi)
It's got a monster of an engine, an intelligent gearbox, extremely comfortable and supportive seats, and it handles well too. The closest any AMG badge-sporting SUV has gotten to being a sportscar.