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LA show: Benz uber SUV to land in June

Stonking SUV: The new Benz ML63 AMG will make its public debut at the LA Auto Show this week before arriving in Australia around the middle of next year.

Mercedes confirms mid-2012 launch of AMG’s 386kW M-class flagship in Australia

15 Nov 2011

MERCEDES-BENZ Australia is hoping to hold the price of its 2012 ML63 AMG sports SUV at the same $175k level of the current model when the new-generation M-class flagship arrives about June next year.

Boasting 28 per cent better fuel economy and more power and torque than the current second-generation 6.2-litre V8 ML63 AMG, the twin-turbo direct-injection 5.5-litre V8 replacement model goes public this week at the Los Angeles motor show ahead of its roll-out around the world in 2012.

The ML63 AMG will arrive in Australia about two months after the all-new third-generation M-class range hits the market in its standard forms in April.

Mercedes-Benz Australia/Pacific manager corporate communications Jerry Stamoulis told GoAuto today that pricing and projected volumes for the AMG ML would not be set until final specification and other factors had been locked in closer to launch, but the company was expecting to maintain similar levels to the current generation.

He said stock of the current ML63 was expected to run out by the end of this year, but supplies of standard ML variants should last until the new model lands in April.

So far this year, Mercedes has sold 89 ML63 AMGs in Australia out of total ML sales of 1712 units.

4 center imageThe new ML63 AMG gets the same bi-turbo 5.5-litre V8 as other recent AMG models, such as the CLS63, CL63 and S63, serving it up with 386kW of power at 5250rpm – 11kW more than the outgoing 6.2-litre normally aspirated model – and 700Nm of torque at 2000-5000rpm (up 70Nm).

An optional performance pack pushes those figures up to 410kW and 760Nm, thanks to a lift in turbo boost.

The regular ML63 charges from zero to 100km/h in 4.8 seconds – down from 5.0 seconds – while the high-boost version slices that to 4.7 seconds.

Once again, Mercedes-Benz has used forced induction and direct injection to drive down fuel consumption while pushing up performance from the downsized V8 engine.

European test figures reveal 11.8 litres per 100km fuel economy – a huge gain of 4.7L/100km or 28 per cent over the current model’s 16.5L/100km.

The CO2 emissions figure has been chopped from 392 grams per kilometre to 276g/km.

Part of the fuel savings are delivered by idle-stop – standard on the ML for the first time – along with weight savings that have sliced 40kg from the ML’s bulk.

The ML63 retains permanent 4Matic all-wheel drive and Benz’s seven-speed transmission, in this case AMG’s Speedshift Plus 7G-Tronic, which has automatic double-declutching on downshifts, and three driving modes – Controlled Efficiency, Sport and Manual.

In Controlled Efficiency (C) mode, the idle-stop system kicks in, along with optimised gear selection for saving fuel. Switching to Sport or Manual disconnects the idle-stop and sharpens gear changes.

The ML63 sits on AMG’s speed-sensitive Airmatic sports suspension that can lower the body at high speeds to minimise drag and increase driving stability.

This system gets independent damper struts, automatic level control and adaptive damping for the first time in combination with a body-roll stabilising system called Active Curve System that has active anti-roll bars on the front and rear axles to counter body roll in cornering.

Mercedes says the roll stabilisation, damping and suspension combine instantaneously to offer optimum ride comfort and maximum stability.

As well, the driver is able to choose three driving modes – Comfort, Sport and Manual.

The ML63 gets an AMG-tuned version of Mercedes’ fuel-saving electro-mechanical steering, which is also speed sensitive.

Like all AMG Benzes, the ML63 gets an upgraded brake package, with ventilated and perforated 390mm discs on the front and 345mm on the rear.

Five-spoke 20-inch light-alloy wheels are standard – painted titanium grey and shod with 265/45 R20 tyres – while bigger 21-inch alloys with 295/35 R21 tyres are optional.

The wide wheels are accommodated by 10mm wider fenders as part of an AMG body enhancement that also includes a unique front fascia with larger air openings, sports side skirts and a sports rear apron with a black-painted air opening and chromed quad exhausts.

Inside, the ML63 gets electrically adjustable AMG sports seats, a four-spoke flat-bottomed steering wheel with aluminium shift paddles, and aluminium and piano black trim elements.

Leather is standard, with contrast double stitching and AMG badges in the headrests.

Instruments get an AMG work-over, with a colour screen and other touches.

Apart from extra turbo boost for more grunt, the Performance Package also includes a carbon-fibre engine cover, red-painted brake callipers and an upgraded steering wheel with Nappa leather.

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