Given adequate social lubricant it’s possible to mate the rough edges of performance with the loving constrictions of magnificence. And as Mercedes-Benz AMG is now demonstrating so handsomely in its third generation ML, the trick can be done with that most difficult of platforms, the sport utility.
Already fast and contented, the 5-passenger mid-size ML has been thoroughly upgraded with improved fuel economy and improvement foremost, but as this is an AMG, with increased performance as well. Thus, the 6.2-liter naturally aspirated V-8 has been replaced with a more fuel-conscious, direct-injected, 4-cam 5.5-liter twin-turbo V-8 rated at 525 bhp. This slightly improves ML performance while gaining a third more fuel economy, now rated at 16 mpg combined. That’s still dismal, of course, but in the ML’s nearly six-figure price range saving at the pump is as much societal statement as selling point.
More germane is the higher-boost schedule package option offering 557 bhp and 560 lb.-ft. of torque. So equipped, our test car rocketed away from standing starts, its AMG-tuned 4MATIC all-wheel drive grabbing with cat-on-a-carpet traction. At street speeds the AMG’s 4.7 zero-to-sixty acceleration is truly spectacular, flattening only slightly on the expressway as the SUV’s 5000-lb. mass and wind fighting come in play.