A Family Car ...

Such an innocent and generous concept representing peace, love, and cherishing of family unity. Until now.  Please meet the 2012 Mercedes Benz ML63 AMG. From the outside it looks like a soccer-mom vehicle of choice in Malibu, or a commuter vehicle for a lawyer from The Hamptons. It may even look boring, until you notice the red brake calipers behind the massive 21 inch rims and aggressive quad exhaust pipes that it seem to have ripped from a Star Destroying before ramming through an army of storm troopers and getting on its way to German Autobahn. Of course, you will never get a clear look of those exhaust pipes because with its 518 horse powered 5.5L Biturbo engine and a little help from a quick (for an automatic) AMG SPEEDSHIFT PLUS 7G-TRONIC gearbox it can go 0 to 60 in 4.7 seconds and is limited to 250 km/h.

I had a pleasure of driving one of those beasts through central Tokyo and I was completely seduced by its appeal, ultra luxury interior, very sporty handling and mesmerizing exhaust note. The burbling and backfire on the lift-off was something in the neighborhood of a tamed SLS AMG and the way that engine propelled this 2.2 ton monster to maybe not quite so legal speeds was astounding!   I have driven some heavy cars with powerful engines before (Escalade, Infiniti QX to name a few), but this is in different league, despite its size and weight, it feels like a hot hatch! It was very nimble, steering was precise, visibly from cabin was good and in general it was very easy to drive.

And even if you are not driving it, which will be the situation for the rest of the family, there is still plenty to enjoy.  The leather on the heated and ventilated seats is soft and pleasant to touch; interior trim is very pleasant and relaxing. This particular vehicle was equipped with optional Harmon/Kardon LOGIC7 entertainment system with 13 speakers.  Of course being an SUV it has a bonus of high capacity storage space and push button trunk door.  Perhaps the only thing on the inside giving away its AMG heritage is the thick leather and alcantara wrapped sports steering wheel.

And every time I am behind this steering wheel life just seems a little better. I no longer care that I may have a several hour long trip ahead of me or that I am stuck in mundane Tokyo traffic. With this car I am the king of the road I am enjoying every minute of it.

 


Cost of ownership1/5
Apart from an insane 14 million yen price tag, the Biturbo 5.5L engine that hauls around 2.2 tons of steel is not going to be good on gas.  Expect to replace tires fairly often, insurance and maintenance should also be pretty high.  But hey, with such engine and handling you don’t even need that second sports car anymore.
Practicality
5/5
A large SUV with powerful engine can do everything from hauling your family to Costco or serving as a bank robbery getaway vehicle.
Appeal
5/5
The car screams luxury, it’s a Mercedes Benz, and it lets everyone know about it
Fun factor
5/5
The feel of acceleration, the noise and exceptional comfort level will keep you happy for a very long time






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