2014 Mercedes ML63 AMG Review
Car Tested: 2014 Mercedes-Benz ML63 AMG
Price OTR Mumbai: Rs. 1,93,11,050/-
The fourth engine on the ML in India almost defies physics, with that monstrous power.
The Mercedes ML-Class needs little introduction here because it’s an SUV which we at MotorBeam specially admire, right from the old model to the latest third generation, the ML has won our praises for its off-road prowess and practical nature. In fact when we had the ML350 CDI for a long term, it was really with a heavy heart did we return the car back to Mercedes, after driving it for a couple of months. The 3.0-litre diesel equipped Launch Edition which took prime spot in our drive way, never felt lacking when it came to performance but with the boffins at AMG thinking too much is never enough, we were blown yet again, this time in the ML63 AMG, an SUV which has a big V8 heart that can gather speed in Usain Bolt style.
Exteriors – Mercedes’ AMG division knows how to mix sporty with elegant because the performance sub-brand of the three pointed star doesn’t make the car appear loud in anyway, the styling tweaks are subtle and tasteful. With the ML63 AMG too, you don’t really notice it much over the regular ML-Class as the visual differences are quite limited, more so if you have seen the regular ML-Class in Launch Edition guise, which too came with an AMG body kit and wheels. The big takeaways are of course the V8 and AMG badges on the car along with quad exhausts (these are faux units, look closely and there is one big unit behind the two mufflers on each side) at the rear, a clear sign of what rumbles under that massive hood.
Interiors – Step inside though and there is the familiar ML-Class cabin, one which basks you in comfort the moment you set foot. The dashboard is more or less the same as the regular ML too, with the big differentiators being the Alcantara inserts on the steering and A-pillars. You also get many AMG bits like aluminium pedals, sporty AMG seats, AMG instrument cluster and an AMG steering wheel with a flat bottom. The cabin quality is excellent, the ML63 AMG is a CBU, being completely imported from the USA, the only place where the ML63 AMG is currently manufactured.
A sporty SUV it might be but the ML63 AMG scores high on comfort. The rear seat has plenty of space and the support offered by the leather seats is fantastic. Rear seat occupants also get an LCD screen (placed on the rear of the front seat headrest). There are plenty of useful features inside the car, like heated cup-holders and heated seats, the latter being of not much use in the sweltering heat of Mumbai. Considering the climate in tropical countries, a cool ventilation for the front seats would have been a welcome feature.
Performance – When we drove the GL63 AMG, we were wowed by its performance and the ML63 AMG uses the same engine. However the ML63 is a good 235 kgs lighter than the GL63, which results in even better performance. The output from this hand crafted AMG mill remains the same as the GL63, this 5.5-litre of V8 madness jutting out a terrific 550 HP of peak power at 5250-5750 RPM while peak torque of 760 Nm is thrusted out between 2000 to 5000 RPM, transferred in 40:60 split to the front and rear wheels using the 4MATIC all-wheel drive system. Mercedes is offering the ML63 AMG in India with the AMG Performance Package (increases turbo boost from 14.5 PSI to 18.8 PSI), resulting in a claimed 0-100 km/hr time of 4.7 seconds (4.8 seconds sans the package). We recorded a 4.98 second time on our VBOX, without doubt that’s blistering quick. Top speed is limited to 280 km/hr (250 km/hr on the standard ML63).
With twin turbochargers on song, the Mercedes ML63 AMG offers jaw dropping performance. The powertrain is extremely refined and on start up, all 8 cylinders roar to life, setting into a calm idle. However, get going and the ML63 is eager right from low-end of the power-band, it hurtles you with the kind of pace that can scare you silly and if that’s not enough, within no time you would be gathering such momentum that’s simply way off legal speeds. A quick glance on the speedometer and the red needle has already crossed 200 km/hr, such is the locomotive pull from a vehicle which can carry five in total comfort, also swallowing 690 litres of luggage space without a fuss.
The 7-speed AMG SPEEDSHIFT PLUS 7G-TRONIC gearbox isn’t the quickest around but does a good job of swapping cogs as and when you need it. You can however, alter the way the car shifts gears, putting it into Controlled Efficiency (slow but smooth shifts), Sports (holds gears till the redline and is super quick with shifts) and Manual (doesn’t upshift, not even once you reach the 6400 RPM redline). The bi-turbo engine revs very quickly, and an upshift warning pops up at 6000 RPM. In fact, the motor is so quick to rev that you often get caught by the top-end rush in manual mode. There are steering mounted paddles as well, made of aluminium and the paddles are long and amazing in feel, letting you override the gears in any mode, blipping the throttle on aggressive downshifts.
The mid-range is the best part of the ML63 AMG but in spite of so much grunt on offer, you can still drive this SUV comfortably by cruising at sane speeds. While this AMG takes an upshift to third to reach 100 km/hr, it can cruise comfortably at the same speed in top gear, the RPM needle ticking in at just 1800 RPM. The ML63 AMG sounds good, emitting its typical AMG soundtrack but to best enjoy the vocals, you need to do part throttle acceleration, as on full throttle, it just goes too quickly through the gears. You do enjoy the kick out from the exhaust on full throttle upshifts, emitting a outburst which is simply music to the ears. This big AMG returned us a mileage of 4.5 km/l, which is respectable considering how heavy our right foot was during the road test.
Driving Dynamics – The ML63’s lighter weight over the GL63 is immediately apparent the moment you put this AMG through a set of curves. The smaller ML being more eager to dive into corners, with body movement being well in control. But this is no light car, something apparent when you accelerate and brake heavily, the nose lifting and diving every time you use the accelerator and brake with enthusiasm. The ML63 AMG has 30 mm narrower tyres compared to the GL63 AMG, it lugs around lesser weight too but corner and accelerate hard and the traction control system kicks in to police around and stop wheel-spins which happen in spite of the grippy Pirelli PZero rubber. This high performance ML gets a host of buttons on the centre console, you get Hill Descent Control and electronic ride height control. But the thing which is more important to us are the driver selected modes.
There are three modes for the suspension – Comfort, Sport and Sport+. The ML63 AMG uses an Airmatic suspension and gets Ride Control and Active Curve system on board. What is basically does is, controls the damping and roll stabilisation based on what mode you have selected. In Comfort mode, the ride quality is pliant and the steering is light. As you go up the modes, the car becomes stiffer and the steering gets added weight for improved feedback and feel. Likewise, in Sports+ mode, the steering is feel-some although still not as direct and natural as a sports car. The ride quality too, is quite acceptable but on bad roads the low profile rubber do tend to transmit the unevenness of the tarmac to the occupants. The brakes are sharp with lots of stopping power on tap and on heavy braking, the nose does dive but all in good control.
Verdict – The ML-Class is without doubt hugely capable and the AMG version costs a cool Rs. 22 lakhs less than the GL63 AMG. That and the fact that the ML is the faster SUV of the two and more involving as well makes us rate it higher among the AMG SUVs. There is an ML-Class for almost everyone, the 4-cylinder diesel engined ML250 is available at Rs. 66.66 lakhs, the 6-cylinder diesel powered ML350 costs Rs. 78.49 lakhs, while the bullet proof M-Guard is priced at a hefty Rs. 3.22 crores. However, among all the ML variants, the ML63 is the one which offers the most driving fun, after all, it comes with ////AMG power.
The Mercedes ML-Class is one of the best SUVs in its segment and in AMG guise, the 5.5-litre V8 missile empowers it with performance which no other vehicle in its class can match, it’s just too fast for a 5-seater SUV.
* 8-cylinder engine’s performance
* Interior comfort
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