What is it?
It was no coincidence that Mercedes-Benz chose Santa Barbara, California to give journalists their first taste of the ML 63 AMG. This is the German car maker’s powered-up rival to the likes of the BMW X5M and Porsche Cayenne Turbo, and nowhere has it traditionally sold in greater numbers than here. Where better to show off the US-built performance SUV than on the roads where the majority are set to spend their life?
What’s it like?
Like most new AMG models released in recent times, the ML 63 uses a new twin-turbocharged 5.5-litre V8 engine. The forced induction unit replaces the old model’s naturally aspirated 6.2-litre V8, packing 518bhp and a prodigious 516lb ft of torque – an increase of 15bhp and 52lb ft respectively. If that’s not enough, there’s also a performance package option that increases boost pressure and adds a more free-flowing air manifold, bumping output up to 549bhp and an even more heroic 560lb ft.
There’s a lot to like about the ML 63, but the engine is clearly its most compelling feature. With all that torque delivered at just 1750rpm the full force of its performance is never far away, as reflected in its 0-62mph time of just 4.7sec – a 0.3sec improvement on its predecessor. Accompanying its sheer speed is a wonderfully exuberant exhaust note that tempts you to hold on to lower gears longer than is absolutely necessary just to experience its aural delights. With two heavily overdriven ratios at the top of its gearbox, it’s also a terrifically relaxed and well refined cruiser at the sort of motorway speeds it will face in the UK.