Mercedes have long made the claim that they first invented the original performance 4×4 back in 1999 when their ML AMG rolled off the production line. Now we have the ML63 AMG, the third generation of the German giant’s hot off roader, and despite the price tag and eye watering gas guzzling, the previous models have a loyal UK following and over 24,000 were driven out of showrooms.
This newest Mercedes ML63 AMG will be on sale in the UK by July 2012, 3 months after their new M-class, for in the region of £85,000. Yes, that is a lot of money, and it almost twice the price of the turbo diesel version that proved to be a best seller. This has to be something very special to match up to the expectations that kind of price gives the consumer, and it is certainly an acquired taste reserved for those able to afford it.
Under the bonnet you will find the identical 3.3ltr twin turbo V8 engine with 518bhp that is in the AMG versions of the CLS and the E-class. This is powerful enough to project the 2.3 tonnes of car for 0-62mph in an mere 4.8 seconds, and up to a (limited) top speed of 155mph.
There is some good news on the consumption side, where a 28% improvement had been made in fuel economy, although it still carries a hefty average of 23.9mpg. The emission have also been reduced from 392/km to 276/km COS. While neither of these are significant enough to get Friends of the Earth sending you Christmas cards, they are well ahead of the Ranger Rover Sport, that boasts 19mpg and 348/km.
So there is no doubt that the straight speed is present, and you would think that it would handle equally impressively. Surprisingly, it doesn’t, and for this kind of cash you wouldn’t be too expectant to think it would handle like a sports model, which it doesn’t but can still be classed as a drivers car. Cornering is flat, it doesn’t object to being hustled and the ride is respectable.
It will, on the other hand, far exceed expectations when it comes to the interior. This is an area that has been sadly lacking in the previous M-classes but that certainly isn’t the case here. Sure, this is the AMG version, but there has been a notable step up in terms of the materials used, the quality of the build and the overall feel.
The interior is both spacious and cossetting, and those in the rear have ample space. The seats may feel rather firm for some tastes, but with their side supports they do the job. There is an optional Bang &Olufsen stereo and Mercedes are claiming that their Designo personalisation programme is seeing a surge in popularity, suggesting that it’s cost isn’t an issue amongst those who will buy the AMG.
Overall, despite the Mercedes ML63 AMG being designed for family motoring it can outrun most of those classed as sports cars, and offers an extremely tempting package. Amongst the hot 4×4’s currently available, this is one of the best.