2012 Mercedes-Benz ML63 AMG – First Drive Review

At some point during a two-day drive of the all-new Mercedes-Benz ML63 AMG, something interesting happened. Your author learned to stop worrying and love the bomb.

Learned to stop worrying about the ML63’s carbon footprint. Worrying about its two-and-a-half-ton weight. Worrying, ultimately, about the sheer ludicrousness of turning the mild-mannered, safety-centric M-class SUV into something that should wear a court-ordered ankle bracelet. We can’t recall the exact moment, but all this consternation likely disappeared while the twin-turbocharged 5.5-liter V-8 was swallowing 14.5 psi of boost and delivering 518 horsepower. AMG claims that the ML63 will achieve 60 mph in less than 4.8 seconds. Select the AMG Performance package, and the boost goes up to 18.9 psi, which yields 550 horsepower and a 4.5-second 0-to-60 sprint by our estimate. (Some context: In our hands, the previous ML63—equipped with AMG’s naturally aspirated 503-hp, 6.2-liter V-8—blitzed to 60 mph in 4.6 seconds.) Top speed, with or without the essential Performance package, is governed at 155 mph.

One of our favorite parts of the original ML63 was its exhaust note. Part big-block Chevrolet Chevelle, part offshore powerboat, all perfectly inappropriate for high society. AMG has managed to preserve that sound in the latest version despite its engine’s slightly smaller displacement and two pesky turbochargers in the path of the exhaust gases. Deep and loud under full throttle, but with a slightly uneven and menacing sound at idle, the 5.5-liter is a perfect mimic of the old 6.2. Maybe that’s why it wears the same “ML63” badges on its fenders and rear door. Or maybe AMG just ordered too many of them and hasn’t run out yet.

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