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First Look: 2012 Mercedes-Benz ML63 AMG

Muscle, luxury and plenty of space.

by on Nov.14, 2011

Mercedes delivers a big bump in power with the launch of the 2012 ML63 AMG.

Mercedes-Benz is seldom shy about adding some muscle to its more mainstream offerings, and the AMG badge on the back of the third-generation ML line suggests that this sport-utility vehicle isn’t meant for crawling all over boulder-strewn trails.

Then again, neither are any of the other members of the ML line-up, which is more likely to win over soccer moms and commuter dads than rugged outdoorsmen.  In the case of the Mercedes-Benz ML63 AMG, the pitch is to those who want a reasonable degree of functionality and flexibility but still hope to find something with the soul of a sports car.

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There’s no question that the fast-beating heart of the 2012 ML63 can impress, the updated 5.5-liter biturbo V8 making518 horsepower and 516 lb-ft of torque – up 15 hp and 44 lb-ft, respectively, over the old model.  For those who need to press things to the limit, you’ll also find the AMG Performance Package bumps that up to 550 hp and 560 lb-ft.  Power is channeled through the Mercedes Speedshift Plus-7 automatic gearbox.

The "base" Mercedes ML63 AMG will deliver 518 hp.

Both versions of the 2012 Mercedes-Benz ML63 AMG will make their debut at this week’s Los Angeles Motor Show, and will be screeching into showrooms during the first quarter of next year.

The basic ML63 AMG will launch from 0 to 60 in 4.7 seconds, not bad for such a massive hunk of machinery.  The Performance Package cuts that to 4.6 seconds while boosting top speed from an electronically limited 155 mph to 173 mph.

To get that extra power, Mercedes migrated to a new piezo-electric fuel injection system that takes the V-8’s direct injection system a step further.  The package can deliver up to five short spurts of fuel to maximize combustion achieving both better performance and improved fuel efficiency – if that’s what you can call 16 mpg in the EPA’s Combined cycle.

The ML63 undergoes only modest interior and exterior upgrades for 2012.

To further enhance mileage, the new ML63 features Auto Stop/Start, a technology that briefly shuts off the engine rather than waste gas while idling.

Muscle alone wouldn’t mean much, so Mercedes is rolling out an assornment of new technologies meant to improve handling and safety, including the new Active Curve System, which helps compensate when the crossover/ute enters a corner too fast.  The new model also maintains the all-wheel-drive system found on the outgoing model.

The air suspension on the five-seater can meanwhile be switched between three different modes: Comfort, Manual and Sport.

The 2012 ML63 AMG features some subtle exterior tweaks, including matte silver accents and wider front fenders – the better to make room for the 20-inch alloy wheels and tires standard on the AMG edition.

The current offering starts at around $93,000, including destination charges.  Mercedes won’t release pricing on the 2012 ML63 AMG until closer to launch.


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