So, a rudimentary flow chart. Do you find yourself a tad queasy in the company of fire-breathing, 525bhp, umpteen-foot-tall Cheshire Tractors?
If your answer is ‘yes’, skip straight to last paragraph.
If your answer is ‘Hell no! This is Top Gear and that mother looks like The Stig was its high-profile one-dimensional “Creative Design Executive”, get it on the track NOW!’, continue reading.
This is the Mercedes ML63 AMG. New shape, new engine, same concept: sub five second 0-60 time and a top speed limited to 155mph by the car’s electronics rather than by the driver’s sense of responsibility. And, notionally at least, the ability to do that in the snow, on ice, on sand…Anywhere.
We like this new ML and its around-there-but-not-quite-in-your-face looks, and we love AMG’s new twin-turbo 5.5-litre V8 ’63’ engine. It doesn’t quite howl like the old regular, fresh-air breathing 6.2-litre V8 (get one soon, before it’s gone for good, it’s still on the C-class and SLS), but nor does it trouble your credit rating at the fuel pumps.
Well, not quite as badly. This is still one thirsty car, but come on, you don’t buy one of these if you’re Wild Bean Café-phobic. ML63s are part of a small gang of social delinquents along with Cayenne Turbos, Range Rover Sports and BMW X5s and 6 Ms.
Actually, the gang’s had a bit of rift. The Rangey and the X’s remain resolutely old school, rated at 353 and 325 grammes/km of Co2 respectively. The new ML joins the Porsche just this side of the acceptability line at 276 grammes. And say what you want about cars that put the Sport back in SUV, that’s impressive.
The AMG bits, engine aside, start with its own take on the 7G-tronic double-clutch transmission: a new transfer box which pumps 60 per cent of the 516 lb/ft to the back axle. There’s also AMG’s take on Benz’s standard Airmatic – it includes ‘Active Curve System’ which will do its damnedest to stop the tall body rolling in fast bends. Plus steering that’s been AMG’d by tinkering with the both the hardware and the software. Finally, as you can see, AMG brakes the size of CERN.
The outside and in have been given another immaculately restrained make over. Quite how AMG makes its cars look so much faster, without ever looking tatty is an art almost as impressive as its engineering. And the interior is just lush.
[Rejoin here, those of a queasy disposition]
So, in conclusion, this is a remarkably efficient car for its class. Stoppy-starty technology, an optimised transmission, and in ‘regular’ 525bhp mode (you can bolt on an AMG performance pack if you want another 32bhp), the new ML coughs just 276 grammes of CO2 into the atmosphere for every kilometre driven. And claims fuel consumption of 24mpg.
Maybe those figures won’t win you a date with any wiry SUV-hating hipster girls, but they do compare favourably with any family saloon of just a few years ago. Try telling her that.