For the 2012 ML63 AMG, Mercedes-Benz has dropped the naturally-aspirated 6.2-liter V-8 in favor of a smaller, forced-induction engine that is quickly finding its way under all "63"-badged AMG vehicles. While it may not sound quite as ferocious and guttural as the outgoing engine, the twin-turbo 5.5-liter has momentous power on tap from as low as 1750 rpm. Standard power is more than adequate at 518 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque, but the optional AMG Performance Package increases that to a massive 550 hp and 560 lb-ft of torque.
The aesthetic improvements that the AMG boffins added to help the “M” in ML stand for machismo has made a notable difference. The 0.4-inch wider fenders, 21-inch forged AMG wheels wrapped in performance rubber, and wide-mouthed intakes give the the ML63 an assertive and aggressive stance. LED running lights, “V8 Biturbo badges,” and an ML63-specific rear diffuser make this uprated version stand out from lesser MLs.
The ML63 stacks up favorably against its super-SUV competition, too. It’s more powerful than all but the 555-hp BMW X5 M, and is mid-pack with its 4.6-second 0 to 60 mph time. (The BMW and the Porsche Cayenne Turbo are both quicker at 4.5 and 4.4 seconds, respectively, and the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 and Range Rover Sport Supercharged are both slower at 4.8 and 5.9 seconds, respectively.)
The 2012 ML63 AMG races into dealerships this spring. Although pricing has yet to be announced, expect a hefty premium over the current $49,865 base price of the 2012 ML350.
For more on the 2012 Mercedes-Benz ML63 AMG, check out our First Look here. For more on the 2011 Los Angeles Show, including videos, the latest photos, and more information, click here to visit our L.A. Show homepage.