So we got a Mercedes-Benz ML 63 AMG
The Mercedes-Benz ML 63 AMG is among the fastest 4x4s in the world. It held the title of world’s fastest-accelerating SUV for a while, but then the ugly Porsche Cayenne Turbo S took over the mantle this year. However, such statistics are too close to call. A difference in weather and road conditions was enough to change our 0-100 kph acceleration numbers. In this summer test, we couldn’t top the numbers we got from our Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT-8 winter test. It is therefore better to judge a vehicle by its overall merits.
The latest Mercedes-Benz M-Class is a handsome vehicle. It has been around for a few years now, but it still looks good, especially since it is so much rarer than the awful previous version. Unfortunately the AMG does not look much different than the standard ML. We even mistook another parked ML 350 to be a real AMG outside Daimler’s offices, but then realised that Mercedes-Benz offers an AMG “kit” for regular ML models too.
The ML 63 AMG generally stays in the low-rider position most of the time, making it easy to climb into and offering better high-speed stability.
And then we respected it a bit more after we found the suspension adjustment button that raised the ground clearance by a good couple of inches. It still does not have low-range gearing though, so we didn’t bother with real off-roading.
The 21-inch AMG alloy wheels are massive, and they house massive cross-drilled brake rotors that fill up even these humongous rims.
The side-steps are narrow and actually make it harder to enter comfortably if you try to step over them instead. The narrow rear doors don’t help rear-seat access either.
But once inside, it is extremely spacious inside, both front and back. There is likely as much rear legroom as some full-size SUVs.
Even the cargo area is generous, especially since there is no third-row seat crammed in there. But the tailgate is heavy, and our tester did not have the power-operation option.
The ML is a true luxury vehicle, with unique luxury features designed to make you lazier. There are at least four stalks sticking out behind the steering wheel, not counting the gear paddles. Among them is the “P-R-N-D” gear selector. We got used to it after some initial fumbling.
Every inch of the ML’s cabin is covered in premium materials. The only unfortunate omission is a cover for the cup-holders. Even a Honda Civic offers a cover to hide those gaping holes when not in use.
Incidentally, our 2nd-generation Jeep Grand Cherokee V8 was a former record-holder itself, being the fastest production 4×4 when it was launched in 1999, before all the overpriced German crossovers made their debut a year later. Of course, the game has changed in ten years, and it is ironic that the two are vaguely related by family ties that got severed only recently. Even the upcoming 2011 Grand Cherokee is based on the Mercedes-Benz ML.