Have you ever had the nightmare of being followed by a beastly growl, wherever you went? Even as you try to escape it in your powerful car, its menacing guttural sputter is close at your heels, haunting your ears, following you all over town…
In a Mercedes ML 63 AMG, this turns into your most desirable dream. And that apocalyptic sound belongs to the car itself that you are driving!
UPSIDE: Immensely powerful, Ample driver assistance, Improved interior luxury, Excellent music system
FLIPSIDE: Vacant pedal travel, High price, narrowing cockpit
Price: Starting at nearly AED 400,000, my beefed up drive would cost AED 477,000
Reaching the Mercedes base, I was rubbing my hands in the tremulous anticipation of grabbing the wheel of the formidable ML500, only to be greeted by the bad news that the assigned car was on a workshop vacation – probably paying the price for some ‘journo burno’! Instead, I was to drive another ML – the ML 63 AMG. I had to hold myself steady not to be thrown off – after all, springing back to ecstatic exuberance from the depths where my heart had just been was quite a leap!
With 557 hp at hand and a stupendous 760 Nm torque generated by the 5.5 L V8, the Mercedes ML 63 AMG is an immensely powerful car. Just in case excitement overcomes you at the start, the auto handbrake release saves you the bother! Among the Manual, Comfort and Sport modes, the comfort drive is all you need usually because the Sport mode with AMG+ suspension can be an overdose and can prod the next radar into action even before you’ve got over the blinding from the previous flash…
The power is systematically delivered to you by the AMG Speedshift Plus 7G-Tronic transmission. All that power doesn’t leave you at sea, for you have a host of assistants guiding you through the city adventure. The Lane Departure Warning, Forward Distance Alert, Active curve system and, of course, the ever helpful Blindspot Warning – for those B pillars are a bit thick! The rear view is wide and clear, so there is no issue there.
You will be wise to handle it easy in automatic mode. There is an annoying vacant pedal travel at times. As for the manual mode, the engine shudders with the rush of adrenaline, or gasoline rather, before shifting gears. So shift a little early and you won’t be complaining.
The steering wheel wrapped in black Napa leather is well balanced and engaging though with an occasional dawdling. Powered like a muscle car, it complies in curves than most SUVs, but in corners and sharp turns, you might have to chant the mantra of self-restraint to tell you that it isn’t a sedan after all! Brace your buckles, up your antennas and, you can sense its new roll stability tech acting for better steadiness.
With its gargantuan fuel tank, even at the rate the 98-octane gas was evaporating, I could play touch and come back with Muscat from Dubai without stopping for refreshment. On the other hand, the fuel efficiency on a ‘normal’ drive could match a 1.6 L Korean hatch, with only a tiny dose of exaggeration. But then, should almost half a million dirhams be traded to attain a state of ‘normalcy’ would be the question!
At the end of the drive, what I couldn’t get over was the sound of the 5.5 L twin turbo AMG motor – like a powerboat flutter. Interestingly, till the time you wear your cape, the exhaust notes are unobtrusive and cruise speeds are noiseless – almost a sweet burble that belies the cannons that wait for your cue!
Cabin and Controls
The suede and felt and all that leather inside the ML 63 AMG cabin added a sort of sensuousness that felt intoxicating with the power. However, the suede-like grip of the steering took me some getting used to!
There is no touch screen, which requires a multi-step operation for the controls, if you mind that kind of thing. Me, I care for the music and the rear seat entertainment system enhanced with a Harman Kardon Logic 7 Surround System can vie for the best entertainment package in town.
The ML 63 AMG is equipped with an aggressive styling outside, which is complemented by the brown chocolate interiors that is deliciously dark and ominous. The presence of AMG is everywhere – right from the steering to the foot deck. The inside of the ML 63 AMG feels compact, especially the dash area with its narrowing design towards the windscreen.
At this point, I would like to remind you that this isn’t a track car that we are talking about but a family SUV that happens to be immensely capable.
The cabin pampers the occupants in true Mercedes style with comfortable breathing leather seats in front and no-compromise rear comfort unlike most luxury SUVs. The ISOFIX is very easy to slip in an out of but why do these cars – even the best of them – ignore the door latch I really don’t understand! Somewhere amidst the flowing traffic and my exhilaration, my toddler pulled at the lever once, and the heavy door stood an inch ajar from safety, fighting the windspeed for a moment, before it was pulled shut again.
The Essential ML 63 AMG
The ML 63 AMG is indeed one of the most desirable SUVs out there. But from the pedestrian ML350 to one of the most formidable among SUVs, the upgrade doesn’t happen without its price. Almost AED 25000 for the AMG kit and the designo maroon single-tone exclusive package that sets you back in comfortable seating by around AED 18000, were at the heart of my transcendental driving experience. The ML 63 AMG teases you with its burble in the city, and delights you with its responsiveness on track.
Drive Courtesy: Daimler Middle East