It has a twin-turbo 5.5-litre V8 engine that produces 518bhp 15bhp more than the engine in the old ML63 yet average economy is boosted by 40% to 23.9mpg. Those who want more power can add an AMG Performance pack that brings an extra 32bhp, along with stronger brakes and styling enhancements.
The ML63 AMG is the only petrol option in the new M-Class range, and at 82,995 it costs 34,505 more than the most expensive diesel the ML350 Bluetec Sport.
The ML63 AMG can accelerate from 0-62mph in just 4.8 seconds, or a tenth faster with the AMG Performance pack fitted.
The 2012 Mercedes ML63 AMG is the only petrol option in the M-Class range
What's the 2012 Mercedes-Benz ML63 AMG like to drive?
For such a big car, the ML63 is surprisingly agile, with steering that's direct and rewarding.
Sports air suspension with Comfort, Sport and Sport+ modes comes as standard, as do 20-inch alloys. Our car had the optional 21-inch wheels, but even with these the ML has a firm yet composed ride in Comfort mode.
Selecting Sport+ lowers the suspension by 10mm, as does driving above 45mph. This improves high-speed stability. However, selecting Sport+ also lets you feel every imperfection in the road surface.
What is hard to fault is the V8 engine. It has a smooth power delivery and works well with the standard automatic gearshifts.
Whats the 2012 Mercedes-Benz ML63 AMG like inside?
There can be a fine line between luxury and gaudiness, but the ML63 is on the former side of the divide. Its cabin features dark wood and metal trims, while the classy leather-trimmed sports seats can be both heated and cooled.
The options list is extensive, too, but it's a shame that a powered tailgate is not standard on a car this expensive.
There's plenty of space for five adults, and the boot has lip-free access and a hidden underfloor storage area for added practicality.
Should I buy one?
It's tricky to recommend a 5.5-litre V8 4x4, especially when it costs almost twice as much as the entry-level diesel model. However, the ML63 AMG is remarkably good at what it does. It handles nicely, is blisteringly quick and sounds great.
Astronomical running costs and that high starting price mean it's reserved for those with resilient bank balances, but it is one of the better performance SUVs.
What Car? says