There's something really intimidating about a vehicle that looks, sounds, goes and weighs as much as the new Mercedes-Benz ML63AMG.
You'll need a cool $177,900 - the price for the ultimate ML is tainted by Luxury Car Tax and other taxes escalating it to higher levels. There is a generous level of standard equipment that includes a whoppa of a touchscreen incorporating satnav, TV, car controls and multi media interface.
Keeping you entertained is a superb Harman Kardon audio system.
The amount of electrically assisted features is incredible: steering wheel adjustment, front seats, windows, tailgate, locking, keyless start and more. The ML63 rides on a set of striking 21-inch alloys with nice fat rubber. The test vehicle's AMG Sports suspension offered ride selection options and the huge brakes never dropped the ball.
It will surprise you how much fuel this twin-turbo, petrol V8 doesn't use rated at an average combined 11.8-litres/100km. There's low rolling resistance tyres, low friction axle drives and electric steering helping to cut fuel use.
Engine stop/start helps around town and the direct injection, 386kW/700Nm, 5.5-litre donk features a raft of high tech components to optimise efficiency.
It drives all four wheels constantly through a seven-speed AMG Speedshift transmission — the one that blips the throttle on downshifts in Sport mode and functions almost anonymously under normal driving.
It's a five seater with plenty of room in the back for luggage. Comfort levels are elevated by the heated front seats and leather upholstery.
The five star safety arsenal is comprehensive and among the best available for primary and secondary crash avoidance/protection. Heck, it even tells you to wake up if you driving drops off the pace. The cruise control is radar operated and maintains a preset distance between cars in front - all pretty tricky stuff.
Physics dictate something like this shouldn't be capable of what it will do. Point it at a set of switchbacks, select Sport mode and manual shift and you will be absolutely astounded at how this big vehicle rampages through corners with nary a wriggle or a squirm. Boot it hard off the line and the ML63 accelerates like the best of them covering a 0-100kmh sprint in under 5.0 seconds - well under.
Wind down the windows and revel in the exhaust ‘explosion’ between gear changes under full throttle - it's almost a primal experience - fear and awe. Then, when you want to cruise around town with the kids, do some shopping, commute to work, dial the ML back to ‘eco’ and Comfort mode and it's like a luxury saloon car - supple, quiet, smooth, extremely well appointed.
Impressive truck. Takes something really serious to see it off in a straight line — or through corners. Practical, stylish (though we prefer the look of the previous model), luxurious and safe. Has the most in-your-face exhaust outlets of any car.
ML63 offers the best of both worlds in a big, boxy, practical package.
Mercedes-Benz ML63 AMG
Price: from $177,900
Warranty: Three years
Engine: 5.5-litre 8-cyl 386kW/700Nm
Transmission: seven-speed automatic, 4x4 constant
Body: 4804mm (L), 1926mm (W), 1796mm (H)
Thirst: 11.8L/100km, 276g/km CO2
BMW X6 M50d
Price: $157,000 plus on-road costs
Engine: 3.0-litre turbocharged straight-six diesel, 280kW/740Nm
Transmission: eight-speed automatic, all-wheel drive
Thirst: 7.7l/100km diesel, 204g/km CO2
Range Rover Sport
Engine: 3-litre, V6 turbo-diesel, 180kW/600Nm
Transmission: 6-spd auto, all-wheel drive
Thirst: 9.2L/100km, CO2 243g/km
Porsche Cayenne GTS
Price: from $164,900
Engine: 4.8-litre direct injection V8, 309kW/515Nm
Transmission: 8-speed Japanese Aisin automatic
Thirst: 10.7 litres/100km