2012 Mercedes-Benz ML63 AMG makes its debut with the all-new 5.5-liter V8

Article by Christian Andrei, on November 14, 2011

As expected, Mercedes-Benz revealed today the all-new 2012 ML63 AMG and announced that the car will make its official debut at the 2011 LA Auto Show this week. We’ll start with the most important part: the engine. The 2012 Mercedes-Benz ML63 AMG is powered by the new AMG 5.5-liter V8 biturbo engine delivering 518 hp and torque of 516 lb-ft, and an estimated fuel combined fuel economy of 16 mpg.

With the optional AMG Performance Package the total output of the engine is increased to 550 hp and 560 lb-ft. The engine is mated to AMG SPEEDSHIFT PLUS 7-speed automatic transmission. The 2012 ML63 AMG is able to sprint from 0 to 60 mph (96 km/h) in 4.7 seconds and has a top speed of 155 mph (250 km/h).

With the AMG Performance Package the sprint from 0 to 60 mph (96 km/h is made in 4.6 seconds while the top speed is increased to 174 mph or 280 km/h. With or without the AMG Performance Package, fuel economy remains unchanged. Moreover, the AMG Performance Package comes with an engine cover in high-quality genuine carbon fiber, calipers painted in red and the AMG Performance steering wheel in Premium leather/DINAMICA.

Regarding the design, the vehicle comes with an aggressive front bumper with large air intakes, new side sills, the well-known ‘V8 Biturbo’ badges on the fenders, a rear skirt that highlights the black diffusers as well as with the 20-inch 5-spoke alloy wheels painted in titanium grey with a high-gloss finish wrapped in 265/45 R 20 high-performance tires.

21-inch AMG alloy wheels are also available as an option. The interior offers standard designo premium leather AMG power sports seats offering excellent lateral support, as well as the four-spoke AMG Performance steering wheel. The 2012MY Mercedes-Benz ML63 AMG will be launched in Q1 2012.

Exterior Design

Combining effortless design, style and verve into an extraordinary piece of engineering, the Mercedes-Benz ML63 AMG cuts a distinctive swath through the market. With the ever impressive V8 under the hood, Mercedes-Benz has installed a number of changes to give the ML63 a unique feel amongst the rest of the M-class series.

Alterations to the front include the Mercedes insignia sitting even larger atop the radiator grille and high-gloss black louvres painted onto the side along with a series of chrome strips on the trim. The Intelligent Light System, or ILS, is an optional installation for those looking for greater clarity in the headlamps. There is some clear body shaping in this particular AMG to give it a very distinct appearance.

The front apron remains an impressive extension and still comes with a series of large air dams. The apron itself has a matt silver chrome trim at the bottom which is used to great effect to separate it from the framing of the LED daytime running lamps which have been built into the outer cooling air intakes. The width has been emphasised via the two struts in the front apron along with the front wings by up to 10mm to allow for the new AMG light-alloy wheels. These alloys have been augmented ever so slightly with the V8 BITURBO logo incorporated into it.

Side views allow a glimpse of the subtle lines which run throughout the vehicle from front to back. The rear view is almost an identical shot of the front with matt silver chrome trim on the air outlets, twin struts and an echo of the power you would come to expect from an AMG.

LED fibre-optic lights have been fitted into the wrap-around rear section and beneath it is an equally impressive twin set of tailpipes. Again the trim is in matt silver chrome, and this is the only M-Class sporting this particular design.

Press Release

Mercedes-Benz ML63 AMG

The new Mercedes-Benz ML63 AMG stands for efficiency and performance, exclusivity and a superlative driving experience. Running on 11.8 litres of fuel per 100 kilometres (NEDC combined, 276 g CO2/km), the high-performance SUV undercuts its predecessor by 28 percent. The basis for low fuel consumption and top-class performance is provided by the AMG 5.5-litre V8 biturbo engine with a maximum power output of 386 kW (525 hp) and a peak torque of 700 newton metres, representing an increase of 11 kW (15 hp) and 70 newton metres. The optionally available AMG Performance package boosts the V8 engine's power output to 410 kW (557 hp) and its maximum torque to 760 newton metres. The AMG RIDE CONTROL sports suspension with newly developed ACTIVE CURVE SYSTEM for active roll stabilisation, the AMG-specific design and the broad scope of standard equipment and appointments make for a highly attractive overall package.

The new Mercedes-Benz ML63 AMG comes with an exciting technology package: the AMG 5.5-litre V8 biturbo engine features spray-guided direct petrol injection with piezo injectors, ECO start/stop system, an all-aluminium crankcase, four valves per cylinder with camshaft adjustment, air-water intercooling and alternator management. With a displacement of 5461 cc, the eight-cylinder engine generates a maximum power output of 386 kW (525 hp) and 700 newton metres of torque. In conjunction with the AMG Performance package these values rise to 410 kW (557 hp) and 760 newton metres. This difference in power and torque results from an increase in the maximum charge pressure from 1.0 to 1.3 bar.

Both variants of the Mercedes-Benz ML63 AMG enable sports-car performance: acceleration from zero to 100 km/h takes 4.8 seconds and 4.7 seconds respectively, while the top speed stands at 250 km/h (electronically limited). With or without AMG Performance package, the NEDC fuel consumption figure of 11.8 litres per 100 kilometres (276 g CO2/km) remains the same.

Engine and power transmission: Lower fuel consumption, higher performance

Higher output but lower consumption: the new ML63 AMG will help Mercedes-AMG achieve its goal of continuously reducing fuel consumption and emissions in new models over the coming years whilst also further enhancing the brand value "Driving Performance". Despite an increase in maximum output from 375 kW (510 hp) to 386 kW (525 hp) compared to the outgoing model, the new ML63 AMG has relatively low fuel consumption of 11.8 litres per 100 kilometres (NEDC combined, 276 g CO2/km), making the high-performance SUV one of the best in its competitive segment.

Output is up 11 kW (15 hp) yet fuel consumption has been cut by 4.7 litres per 100 kilometres - or 28 percent - and the peak torque of 700 newton metres is 70 newton metres higher. Customers who specify the optional AMG Performance package get an output of 410 kW (557 hp) and a torque of 760 newton metres - with identical NEDC consumption figures. The variant with AMG Performance package differs by virtue of a charge pressure increased from 1.0 to 1.3 bar, an engine cover made of high-quality genuine carbon fibre, red-painted callipers and the AMG performance steering wheel with DINAMICA microfibre in the grip area.

Rich torque curve for scintillating power delivery

The scintillating power delivery is one of the defining features behind the outstanding driving impression in the Mercedes-Benz ML63 AMG: the effortless increase in speed is characterised by a rich torque curve. Some 700 newton metres are on tap across a wide engine speed range of 1750 to 5000 rpm - or 760 newton metres from 2000 to 5000 rpm if the AMG Performance package is specified. The emotive, hallmark-AMG eight-cylinder sound produced by the AMG sports exhaust system's two chromed twin tailpipes likewise has full license to thrill.

A glance at the performance figures reinforces this impression: the ML63 AMG accelerates from zero to 100 km/h in 4.8 seconds, and with the AMG Performance package the SUV reaches the 100 km/h mark in 4.7 seconds. The top speed of both engine variants is 250 km/h (electronically limited).

A paragon of efficiency: the AMG 5.5-litre V8 biturbo engine

Key to these performance figures is the AMG V8 powerplant with in-house designation M 157: the AMG 5.5-litre V8 biturbo engine premiered in 2010 in the S63 AMG and CL63 AMG. It has also been the dynamic driving force behind the E63 AMG and CLS63 AMG since earlier in 2011. The M 157 is a paragon of efficiency and boasts a wealth of technological highlights: on account of higher thermodynamic efficiency, the combination of twin turbochargers, direct petrol injection and spray-guided combustion allows better fuel economy and results in lower exhaust emissions. Fast and precise piezo injectors inject the fuel into the combustion chambers and ensure exceptionally fine distribution of the fuel drops around the air in combustion chamber. An electric low-pressure pump sends the fuel from the tank to a high-pressure pump in the engine compartment at a pressure of 6 bar. The pressure of the fuel in the high-pressure rail is fully variable on demand between 100 and 200 bar, ensuring agile response in any driving situation.

Further highlights of the innovative and unique eight-cylinder powerplant from Affalterbach include an all-aluminium crankcase, four valves per cylinder with camshaft adjustment, air/water intercooling, alternator management and the standard-fit ECO start/stop function. Whereas the previous AMG 6.3-litre V8 naturally aspirated engine had a displacement of 6208 cc, the new AMG 5.5-litre V8 biturbo engine needs just 5461 cc.

Two exhaust gas turbochargers located next to the cylinder banks supply the eight cylinders with fresh air. At their maximum speed of 185,000 rpm under full load, the two turbochargers force 1750 kg of air per hour into the combustion chambers. The maximum charge pressure is 1.0 bar, or 1.3 bar if the AMG Performance package is included. Thanks to their special, compact design - the turbine housings are welded to the exhaust manifold - there are significant space advantages, and the catalytic converters also heat up more rapidly.

The AMG V8 is the first turbocharged engine to dispense with the usual blow-off valve. This neat solution enabled the compressor housing to be made extremely compact. To ensure agile responsiveness with no time lag, all the air ducts in the intake tract are as short as possible. The wastegate valve, which reduces the pressure in the exhaust system during negative load changes, is vacuum-controlled via an electropneumatic converter. This allows dethrottling under partial loads, which in turn lowers the fuel consumption.

As was already the case in the AMG 6.0-litre V12 biturbo engine, the eight-cylinder direct-injection unit uses particularly efficient air/water intercooling. The low-temperature cooler with its water circulation is space-savingly accommodated within the V of the cylinder banks. It effectively cools down the intake air compressed by the turbochargers before it enters the combustion chambers, and maintains a constantly lower intake temperature under full load. The large radiator at the car's front end ensures defined cooling of the water circulating in the low-temperature circuit. Extremely short charge-air ducting makes for optimum responsiveness. The stainless-steel pressure pipes for the fresh and charge air are produced by the hydroforming process, have a wall thickness of only 0.8 millimetres and are designed for very low pressure loss.

All-aluminium crankcase with Silitec cylinder liners

The crankcase for the AMG 5.5-litre V8 biturbo engine is made of diecast aluminium. The low (dry) engine weight of 204 kilograms is the result of uncompromising lightweight construction methods and gives the vehicle balanced weight distribution. The bearing cover for the main crankshaft bearings, made of grey cast iron, is bolted to the crankcase for high rigidity. Cast-in Silitec cylinder liners ensure that the eight pistons operate with low friction.

Drilled ventilation holes in the crankcase lead to a higher output and fuel savings under partial load: above the bearing blocks there are longitudinally drilled holes which connect the adjacent crankcase cavities. Normally the upward and downward movement of the pistons causes air to be forced into and extracted from the sump, which leads to increased internal friction losses and therefore a reduction in output. The ventilation holes prevent this by ensuring effective pressure compensation between the cavities. The forged crankshaft made of the high-quality steel alloy 38MnS6BY (a combination of the chemical elements manganese, sulphur, boron and yttrium) rotates in five main bearings, has eight counterweights and is optimised with respect to torsional rigidity, inertia, low rotating masses and durability. A two-mass viscous damper mounted at the front reliably eliminates vibrations. Each connecting rod journal on the crankshaft carries two forged, cracked connecting rods. In the interests of low mechanical friction and high wear resistance, the eight lightweight pistons have a metallic contact surface. Pressure-controlled oil-spray nozzles in the crankcase ensure that the highly stressed piston crowns are efficiently cooled.

Four-valve technology with variable camshaft adjustment

Perfect charging of the combustion chambers is ensured by large intake and exhaust valves, of which there are two per cylinder. The exhaust valves, which are subject to high thermal loads, are sodium-cooled and hollow in order to reduce weight. Four overhead camshafts operate the 32 valves via low-maintenance, low-friction cam followers. The infinitely variable camshaft adjustment within a range of 40 degrees on the intake and exhaust sides depends on the engine load and engine speed, leading to outstanding output and torque values. This also results in consistent idling at a low speed.

Depending on the engine speed, valve overlap can be varied for the best possible fuel/air supply to the combustion chambers and efficient removal of the exhaust gases. The variable camshaft adjustment is carried out electromagnetically via four pivoting actuators, and is controlled by the engine control unit. The camshafts are driven by three high-performance silent chains, which have considerable advantages in noise comfort compared to cylinder roller chains.

Innovative oil supply and water cooling

Efficient oil delivery under all load and operating conditions is ensured by an oil pump with an electrically controlled compression stage. The oil pressure can be varied between 2 and 4 bar, which has advantages in terms of friction and fuel consumption. An extraction stage integrated into the oil pump for the two turbochargers prevents oil from being entrained into the charge air and exhaust gases, thereby helping to reduce emissions even further. Both the sump and the extraction point have been optimised for maximum lateral acceleration and efficient lubrication. The oil capacity is 10.5 litres.

The combined water/oil cooling system is a clever solution: after a cold start, initially the engine oil is only cooled via the oil/water heat exchanger. If the cooling performance of the very compact cooler is insufficient, the flow is additionally directed through the external engine oil/air cooler by an oil thermostat. The advantage of this system is that the engine oil warms up more rapidly, as the engine coolant warms up faster and the oil is later cooled by the coolant. A selectable water thermostat ensures rapid warming of the coolant when starting the engine and driving off. Large intakes in the AMG front apron ensure an effective flow of air to the water, engine oil, charge-air and transmission oil coolers.

The engine coolant is cooled using the particularly efficient crossflow principle. There is a transverse flow of coolant through both the crankcase and the cylinder heads. Additional cooling slots in the cylinder head allow more efficient cooling of the combustion chambers, which has advantages during combustion: it enables earlier ignition timings to be chosen without incurring the risk of knocking.

Alternator management and optimised belt drive

Further factors which help to ensure low fuel consumption include the optimised belt drive, on-demand control of all ancillary units and pumps, and alternator management: whenever the V8 engine is on the overrun or when braking, kinetic energy is used to charge the battery rather than being wasted as heat in the usual way. In all other operating modes a combination of electrical-system and alternator management enables the alternator to be kept at a low voltage. This reduces the load on the engine and makes for fuel savings of around 0.15 litres per 100 kilometres according to the NEDC standard, and up to 0.2 litres per 100 km in city traffic with its frequent overrun and braking phases.

Highly efficient engine electronics for every function

All the engine functions are executed and controlled by a particularly efficient Bosch MED 17.7.3. control unit. This state-of-the-art engine computer not only controls the direct petrol injection, the charge pressure, the camshaft adjustment and the variable oil supply, but also communicates with all the other onboard control units, such as the one for the AMG SPEEDSHIFT PLUS 7G‑TRONIC. The microprocessor has more than 30,000 different parameters and functions stored in its memory, and is able to perform up to 260 million individual operations per second. To reduce the load on the engine control unit, the eight individual ignition coils have an integral electronic module known as an ignition amplifier at each cylinder. These ensure a strong ignition spark at all engine speeds and under all load conditions. The highly precise fuel distribution of the piezo injectors is handled by eight intelligent high-voltage output stages.

New catalytic converter housings for low exhaust emissions

Low exhaust emissions, compliance with country-specific standards, a characteristic AMG engine sound and a weight-optimised design - the requirements for the exhaust system of the new AMG 5.5-litre V8 biturbo engine were manifold and complex. The Mercedes-Benz ML63 AMG complies with the EU-5 emission standards, as well as meeting all the requirements of the US market (LEV-II standard, On-Board Diagnosis II and lambda sensor diagnosis).

The turbochargers are welded to the exhaust manifolds, while air gap-insulated manifolds with an inner shell measuring only 1.2 millimetres in thickness allow a rapid catalytic converter response. For efficiency and to save space, this concept has a tandem catalytic converter housing on each side of the vehicle: adjacent to the firewall, two thin-walled ceramic substrates are grouped into each housing. This solution makes the previous, additional underbody catalytic converters unnecessary. The two ceramic substrates differ to ensure rapid and efficient emission control: the front one is coated with palladium, while the rear one has a bimetal coating of palladium and rhodium. One lambda sensor per row of cylinders is located in front of each catalytic converter housing, and there is a lambda diagnostic sensor between each of the two thin-walled substrates.

AMG sports exhaust system for a characteristic sound signature

The twin-pipe AMG sports exhaust system has a pipe cross-section of 70 millimetres from the manifolds to the rear silencers. Thanks to a particularly intelligent lightweight design, it has been possible to save 7.6 kg of weight compared with the previous model. The AMG experts achieved this by reducing the wall thickness of all of the exhaust pipes as well as the centre and rear silencers to 1.2 millimetres.

When designing the sound, the aim was to create a perfect synthesis of perceived dynamism and the comfort on long journeys that is the hallmark of a Mercedes. The goal of the developers was to achieve an emotional experience when accelerating and double-declutching, but unobtrusiveness at constant speeds. Unpleasant frequencies or droning noises were eliminated during a series of tests. The sports exhaust system emits a sonorous eight-cylinder sound that is typical of AMG from the chrome twin tailpipes.

Engine production - a tradition of hand-built excellence

Like all other AMG engines, the eight-cylinder biturbo is assembled by hand in the AMG engine shop taken into commission in 2002. Highly-qualified technicians assemble the M 157 according to the "one man, one engine" philosophy, maintaining the very strictest quality standards. This painstaking care is attested to by the responsible engineer's signature on the characteristic AMG engine plate.

AMG SPEEDSHIFT PLUS 7G-TRONIC with ECO start/stop function

The perfect partner to the AMG 5.5-litre V8 biturbo engine comes in the form of the AMG SPEEDSHIFT PLUS 7G‑TRONIC. The seven-speed automatic transmission distributes the power to all four wheels on a permanent basis and features three modes - Controlled Efficiency (C), Sport (S) and Manual (M) - which can be selected at the push of a button on the centre console. Selecting Controlled Efficiency ("C") mode activates the ECO start/stop function, which shuts off the eight-cylinder engine when the vehicle comes to a halt. An "ECO" symbol in the AMG main menu indicates the current status to the driver. In "C" mode, the Mercedes ML63 AMG generally moves off in second gear. The high engine torque available even at very low engine speeds coupled with the gentle accelerator and transmission characteristics mean that the transmission selects the highest viable gear quickly.

Further efficiency-enhancing measures include:

New fuel economy converter with centrifugal pendulum
Bearings designed for reduced friction loss
Transmission-oil thermal management system
In modes "S" and "M", the engine and transmission take on a much more agile character, with higher engine speeds, more spontaneous gear changes and faster shift times. The automatic double-declutching function which is now active when downshifting as well as the brief, precisely defined interruption of ignition and injection when shifting up under full load shorten shifting times and increase emotional appeal when adopting a sporty driving style. The seven gears can be changed using the AMG shift paddles on the steering wheel. The upshift indicator integrated into the AMG instrument cluster informs the driver when a manual gear change is advisable.

In the two more performance-oriented driving modes "S" (Sport) and "M" (Manual), the ECO start/stop function is deactivated. If required, the driver can also switch the systems off while in "C" mode by pressing a button on the centre console. In this case an "ECO" symbol will not appear on the instrument cluster either.

Design and equipment: Emotion, dynamism and atmosphere

The design and equipment of the Mercedes-Benz ML63 AMG convey the ultimate in emotion, dynamism and atmosphere. The powerful appearance of the V8 flagship model leaves no room for doubt: this is a true AMG. A number of specific visual modifications distinguish the ML63 AMG from the other M-Class variants. At the front end, for instance, the large Mercedes star sits in a distinctive radiator grille featuring louvres painted in high-gloss black with three chrome trim strips. The optionally available Intelligent Light System (ILS) in particular further enhances the appearance of the clear-lens headlamps.

AMG bodystyling for an unmistakable appearance

AMG bodystyling includes the expressive AMG front apron with three large air dams. The trim strip in matt silver chrome at the bottom of the apron provides an effective contrast and creates a visual link with the surrounds of the LED daytime running lamps integrated in the outer cooling air intakes. The two angled struts in the front apron emphasise the vehicle's width - as do the AMG-specific front wings. Widened by 10 millimetres on each side, they accommodate the large AMG light-alloy wheels in elegant fashion. Harmoniously integrated "V8 BITURBO" logos hint at the flagship AMG model's extraordinary dynamism.

When viewing from the side, the eye follows the side sill panels which form a visual link between the front and rear. Here the AMG rear apron echoes the style of the front end: large, simulated air outlets, angled struts and the trim strip in matt silver chrome at the bottom lend the Mercedes-Benz ML63 AMG an extremely powerful aura at the rear, too. The same result is achieved by the wrap-around, two-part rear light unit with LED fibre-optic technology. The flagship AMG model is the only M-Class to be equipped with two visible twin tailpipes. The trim strip in matt silver chrome serves as an impressive surround for the AMG sports exhaust system.

High-grade, exclusive interior

The interior of the ML63 AMG is likewise expressive, unmistakable and committed to dynamism. Passengers benefit from a successful combination of an authentic SUV experience and the hallmark Mercedes feeling of wellbeing. Attractive design and high-grade materials are combined with first-class build quality.

Like the dashboard, the armrests and the door panelling in an exclusive AMG design are trimmed in ARTICO man-made leather with double topstitching in a contrasting colour as standard. These appointments are an ideal match for the standard leather upholstery on the heated AMG sports seats, which feature double topstitching, an exclusive AMG seat upholstery layout and electrical adjustment. AMG badges can be found on the AMG sports seats as well as on the outer rear seat backrests, while an aluminium trim and the retractable cover finished in piano lacquer on the centre console bring the design to a harmonious conclusion.

AMG performance steering wheel with multifunction buttons

The four-spoke AMG performance steering wheel with leather in the grip area, aluminium shift paddles and a rim with a flattened bottom section allows perfect control of the vehicle. One particularly fine and exclusive detail is the uniquely designed AMG instrument cluster, as only the ML63 AMG offers a colour monitor, which displays an attractive AMG welcome logo when the vehicle is unlocked. The circular instruments have unique graphics, red needles, a 320 km/h speedometer dial and a characteristic AMG logo.

The instrument cluster also contains the upshift indicator and the AMG main menuwith three modes: "Warm Up" indicates the engine oil and coolant temperature, "Set Up" indicates the current ESP® mode and the transmission mode - "C", "S" or "M". In "RACE" the RACETIMER is ready; this allows the driver to record lap times on private racing circuits. The driver controls the AMG main menu using twelve multifunction buttons on the AMG performance steering wheel.

The extensive range of standard equipment includes:

AMG door sill panels in stainless steel
AMG floor mats
AMG sports pedals in brushed stainless steel with rubber studs
Audio 20 CD radio with Bluetooth and USB interface
EASY-PACK load compartment cover
Tyre pressure monitoring system
Headlamp cleaning system
Electric sliding glass roof
Heated seats for the driver and front passenger
Exclusive optional extras for the Mercedes-Benz ML63 AMG are available from the AMG Performance Studio:

AMG Performance package with increase in power of 24 kW (32 hp) and 60 newton metres more torque, AMG engine cover in high-quality genuine carbon fibre, AMG performance steering wheel with DINAMICA microfibre in the grip area, red painted callipers
5-twin-spoke AMG light-alloy wheels (10 x 21) painted in titanium grey with a high-sheen finish, fitted with 295/35 R 21 tyres
AMG performance steering wheel with DINAMICA microfibre in the grip area
Additional optional extras:

Trailer coupling with electric unlocking
Electrically operated EASY PACK tailgate
Rear Seat Entertainment System
harman/kardon® Logic 7® surround sound system
Wood/leather steering wheel in nappa leather
THERMOTRONIC luxury automatic climate control
Light package including Intelligent Light System ILS
Media Interface
Memory package
COMAND Online multimedia system
Electric panoramic sliding glass sunroof
Aluminium-look running boards with rubber studs
TV tuner
Wood trim
Tailor-made individuality with designo

The designo range enables ML63 AMG customers to realise their very own personal style. The designo Exclusive package includes designo leather upholstery on the AMG sports seats. The leather upholstery is available in designo marron, designo porcelain or designo black. The scope of features also includes AMG badges in the backrests of the front seats and the outer rear seats as well as designo floor mats with designo metal badges and black designo leather edging. A designo roof lining in DINAMICA black rounds off the designo Exclusive package.

Further optional extras include a designo trim in black piano lacquer and the designo wood/leather steering wheel in black piano lacquer.

Chassis and braking system: Effortlessly superior, dynamic and agile

The driving feel in the Mercedes-Benz ML63 AMG is characterised by effortless superiority, thrilling driving dynamics and hallmark Mercedes comfort - thanks largely to the powertrain as well as the chassis, steering and braking system. Only the range-topping AMG model features the exclusive combination of AMG RIDE CONTROL sports suspension with AIRMATIC package, Adaptive Damping System (ADS) and ACTIVE CURVE SYSTEM as standard.

The double-link front suspension and multi-link rear suspension are equipped with AMG-specific air spring struts, while the fully load-bearing air suspension system is speed-sensitive. At speeds above 70 km/h, the body is lowered by ten millimetres to reduce drag and increase driving stability. When the suspension is in "Sport plus" mode, the body is 10 millimetres lower than in "Comfort" or "Sport" mode. What's more, the AIRMATIC package compensates for variations in the vehicle load and driving conditions and also functions as a level control system. Away from the road, the air suspension allows additional ride heights to enhance off-road capability - the ground clearance can be increased by up to 60 millimetres. The driver can raise or lower the body at any time whilst the engine is running using the rotary control in the centre console.

Adaptive Damping System (ADS) with "skyhook" algorithm

The Adaptive Damping System (ADS) adapts the damping forces at each wheel based on the current requirements. Depending on the driving situation, it reduces the body movement caused by the wheels using a "skyhook" algorithm so as to ensure optimum ride comfort and outstanding handling safety. This adaptation takes place extremely quickly and fully automatically, although there is a switch which allows the driver to set the damper characteristics manually.

On the Mercedes ML63 AMG, the air suspension and the Adaptive Damping System work closely together with the ACTIVE CURVE SYSTEM. Active anti-roll bars on the front and rear axles control the body roll automatically depending on the lateral acceleration, road speed and the position of the switch ("Comfort", "Sport" or "Sport plus"). The ACTIVE CURVE SYSTEM compensates for the roll angle of the body through bends, so delivering significant improvement in both agility and driving pleasure. At the same time the system increases driving stability and thus safety, especially and importantly at high speeds. Improved ride comfort both on winding stretches of road and on the straight is a further benefit of the ACTIVE CURVE SYSTEM. The control strategies in detail:

Comfort is improved when driving straight ahead as the rotary actuators decouple the two halves of the front and rear anti-roll bars in this situation, meaning that the anti-roll bars are "open" and do not react to a stimulus on just one side, such as bumps or potholes.
Increased ride comfort and more dynamic handling when cornering, because the system actively influences the anti-roll bars' torsional moments and twisting angles. The anti-roll bars' torsional moment furthermore remains constant in response to a stimulus on one side, such as is the case when driving over a pothole on the outside of the bend. Thanks to the individual control at the front and rear axles, distribution of the roll momentum can be varied, allowing the self-steering properties to be actively adapted to the prevailing driving situation. The handling characteristics are adjusted for extra agility when driving along country roads and for even greater stability on the motorway. To enhance driving dynamics, the ML63 AMG has a larger anti-roll bar on the rear axle.
The key componentry of the ACTIVE CURVE SYSTEM comprises a belt-driven hydraulic pump and an oil reservoir in the engine compartment, as well as a valve block and active anti-roll bars at both the front and rear axles. In contrast to a passive anti-roll bar, the active variant is split into two in the middle, and the two halves are connected with one another by means of hydraulic rotary actuators. Using the CAN signals relayed to it by pressure sensors and a lateral acceleration sensor, the electronic control unit regulates the hydraulic pressure.

The complex workings of the ACTIVE CURVE SYSTEM

The hydraulic pump feeds oil to the system from the oil reservoir. The pressure control valves and directional control valves integrated into the valve blocks at the front and rear axles set the desired pressure and twist the active anti-roll bars in the appropriate direction for the driving situation. Inside the hydraulic rotary actuators that are built into the active anti-roll bars there are six oil-filled chambers, three of which are pressurised for each direction of travel, i.e. a left or right-hand bend. The front valve block additionally assumes the task of distributing the oil flow between the two axles, irrespective of load.

40 : 60 power distribution

As on the previous model, a specially designed transfer case distributes the engine power to the front and rear axle at a ratio of 40 : 60. This rear-heavy power distribution enhances agility when cornering at speed. The transfer case in the 4MATIC permanent all-wheel-drive system is directly flange-mounted on the 7G-TRONIC.

Variable: AMG speed-sensitive sports steering

The high level of agility is also down to the new electromechanical AMG speed-sensitive sports steering. With its variable servo assistance which adapts to the current suspension mode, it makes for extremely dynamic handling on bends. In suspension mode "C" or "S", the AMG speed-sensitive sports steering has a comfortable feel, providing a higher level of steering assistance. In "S+" mode, on the other hand, the driver will discern stiffer, more sporty steering assistance with higher steering torque - for enhanced response and steering precision.

In addition to more precise steering and a more comfortable feel at the wheel, the new electromechanical power steering offers a range of additional advantages. Power assistance remains available when the engine is stationary, for example - whereby an algorithm ensures that the engine is not prompted to start up in ECO start/stop mode when the driver is merely moving the steering wheel while the vehicle is at a standstill. The new steering system has also enabled implementation of the "Active Parking Assist" automatic parking function. In addition, the electromechanical AMG speed-sensitive sports steering also makes an important contribution to efficiency, since the steering assist function only requires power when the driver actually steers. This enables further potential fuel savings to be achieved.

In the new steering system the steering gear and the supporting servo-motor form a single compact unit and are mounted as previously on an extremely rigid and lightweight integral support frame, made of high-strength steel, which is positioned in front of the wheel's centre line. The high-performance control unit processes a variety of parameters captured by the sensors - including vehicle speed, steering angle, steering angle speed, lateral acceleration and also understeer/oversteer characteristics - and in a split second calculates the forces which the driver needs to input into the steering in different driving situations - from parking to high-speed motorway driving. Active damping enhances the feeling of safety when driving straight ahead at high speed. What's more, the AMG-specific elastokinematics at the front axle make for improved steering precision.

AMG high-performance braking system, 265/45 R 20 tyres

The new AMG high-performance braking system minimises stopping distances, optimises sensitivity and offers high resistance to fading. Ventilated and perforated brake discs all round - 390 x 36 mm (front) and 345 x 26 mm (rear) - ensure optimum thermal capability and outstanding deceleration. Six-piston fixed callipers are fitted at the front axle, while the rear axle has single-piston combined floating callipers. If the AMG Performance package is ordered, all the callipers are painted red. Start-off assist and the HOLD function make hill-starts easier for the driver.

Standard equipment for the Mercedes-Benz ML63 AMG includes 5-spoke AMG light-alloy wheels in 9 x 20 format. The wheels, painted titanium grey with a high-sheen finish, are shod with 265/45 R 20 tyres. Exclusive optional extras from the AMG Performance Studio include 295/35 R 21 tyres on 5-twin-spoke AMG light-alloy wheels in 10 x 21 format.

4ETS, DSR und ESP® trailer stabilisation

Unlike the other M-Class versions, the ML63 AMG is not available with the ON&OFFROAD package. Nevertheless, the range-topping model is well equipped for light off-road use. The electronic traction system 4ETS in combination with ASR (acceleration skid control) provides good grip, even on slippery surfaces, while the standard-fit DSR (Downhill Speed Regulation) automatically keeps the vehicle at the speed programmed using the cruise control stalk.

ESP® trailer stabilisation offers customers who order the optional trailer coupling increased safety when towing a trailer: this additional ESP® function detects the trailer when the electrical connector plug is connected to the towing vehicle. ESP® trailer stabilisation uses the ESP® sensors and counteracts possible "fishtailing" of the trailer at speeds above 65 km/h by applying the brakes alternately on the individual front wheels. In most cases, this braking is sufficient to completely eradicate the fishtailing and so prevent further danger. In the event of excessive fishtailing, however, the engine torque is also reduced, and the vehicle is braked at all four wheels so as to reduce the speed from the critical level as quickly as possible.

The towing capacity of the ML63 AMG is 3050 kg (braked) or 750 kg (unbraked).

Bodyshell and safety: One star is all you need

In line with the Mercedes-Benz brand philosophy, the new ML63 AMG represents the embodiment of the Mercedes-Benz holistic safety concept of REAL LIFE SAFETY, which is derived primarily from what happens in a real accident situation. The extremely robust occupant compartment of the M-Class, together with the front and rear deformation zones, forms an effective basis for the occupant protection system. Both active safety and driver-fitness safety are further improved by Assistance Systems, already primarily familiar from the S-Class and E-Class.

As with all passenger car models from Mercedes-Benz, the philosophy behind the safety concept of the M-Class is broken down into four phases:

Safe driving: avoiding danger, warning and assisting the driver in good time
In the event of danger: anticipating and enabling preventive protective measures
In an accident: providing protection as needed
After an accident: avoiding even worse consequences and making rapid assistance possible
The high level of safety already achieved in the previous model has been increased even further. The many "invisible" Mercedes-Benz solutions in particular bring measurable benefits in real accident situations. To support new technologies or the evolution of existing systems, the engineers carried out numerous crash tests which went way beyond the tests normally specified, such as the roof-drop test for example, as well as various rollover tests. When it detects the need to do so, a rollover sensor system can activate side and window airbags, as well as belt tensioners. In total, as part of the M-Class development Mercedes-Benz tested 36 totally different loads under real test conditions. Then there were the extensive simulations on the digital prototype. Following this intensive programme of development, the M-Class has the potential to achieve top results in all the international rating tests.

The M-Class is also able to demonstrate the highest possible protection potential when it comes to more vulnerable road users such as pedestrians or cyclists. In addition to yielding areas in the front section, folding exterior mirrors and smooth contours, the risk of injury caused by the vehicle has been reduced by adapting the bonnet and increasing the distance to the components in the engine compartment.

"Electronic crumple zone"

As ever, the best accident is one which does not happen at all. The safety engineers at the Mercedes Technology Center are working intensively on this rather simple sounding statement, which in practice is actually a lot more difficult to implement. Both active safety and driver-fitness safety in the Mercedes-Benz ML63 AMG are further improved by the numerous active and passive assistance systems:

ADAPTIVE BRAKE with Hill-Start Assist, priming, brake drying and hold functions (standard)
Adaptive brake lights warn vehicles behind in an emergency braking situation with flashing brake lights (standard)
ATTENTION ASSIST warns the driver of drowsiness (standard)
Brake Assist (BAS) to support the driver in critical braking manoeuvres (standard)
Tyre pressure monitoring system (standard)
Speed Limit Assist displays road signs in the instrument cluster (optional)
Intelligent Light System with specific lighting functions to match the relevant road and weather conditions (optional)
Night View Assist PLUS with automatic person detection (optional)
Lane Keeping Assist warns the driver as soon as it detects that the driver has unintentionally left a recognised marked lane. In addition, Active Lane Keeping Assist can react with lane-correcting brake application (optional)
Blind Spot Assist warns the driver when vehicles are detected in the area of poor visibility, the so-called "blind spot". Additionally, the system can counteract a possible collision by specific application of the brakes on one side of the vehicle, if the driver does not react to the warning (optional)
Active Parking Assist with PARKTRONIC can detect parking spaces and display the steering manoeuvres required to park on the instrument cluster (optional)
Reversing camera, e.g. with "back-in" mode with dynamic guide lines for reversing into narrow parking bays or to aid with the coupling of trailers (optional)
Standard equipment forming part of the safety concept of the new M-Class includes the anticipatory safety system PRE-SAFE®, which combines active and passive safety synergies to reduce the loads exerted on the vehicle occupants in the event of an accident by up to 40 percent. Depending on the potential accident situation detected, the following reversible measures can be initiated for preventive occupant protection:

Driver and front passenger seat belts are tensioned
Windows are closed
Sliding sunroof is closed
Front passenger seat is adjusted (if optional Memory package is included)
Body: high energy absorption in the event of a front impact

The extremely robust occupant cell of the Mercedes-Benz ML63 AMG, together with the front and rear deformation zones, forms an effective basis for the occupant protection system. The focus of the work here has been the tangible reduction of the loads exerted on the occupants. In the case of front impacts, the engineers were able to achieve more uniform deceleration, and therefore a lower peak load on the occupants.

This was made possible by means of:

Design of the front axle carrier as a crash element, which is able to deform in a specific manner and in the case of an offset crash, for example, can divert the energy to the side of the vehicle opposite the side of impact
Guide ramp on the brake booster, thus preventing unwanted block formation between the brake booster and the damper dome. The brake booster is also rotated to minimise possible brake pedal intrusion
A crash joint ensures that the mudguard is pushed away at the driver's door, and prevents the door from jamming after the impact. For the most part the doors can be opened without much effort
Ultra-high-strength steels in the A-pillar enhance the stability of the passenger compartment in both front impacts as well as in different rollover scenarios, primarily enabling doors to be opened easily after an offset crash
Projected sills create a direct load path to the front wheel. As a result, any possible forcing or intrusion of the wheels into the footwell can be avoided
Optimum energy conversion in the event of a front crash despite relatively short front-end length, thanks to enabling the load paths from the crashbox to the longitudinal body member, from the wheel to the sill, and due to the deformable subframe, which guides the forces into the centre tunnel via the engine/transmission joint
The energy-absorbing steering column deforms up to 100 millimetres when subjected to external forces, thus freeing up additional deformation space for energy conversion. As a result, the loads on the driver can be reduced in the area of the head, neck and thorax
Side-impact protection thanks to intelligent bodyshell

Similar to the design of the front area of the M-Class, the vehicle's intelligent bodyshell design also performs impressively in side-impact accident scenarios. The specific distribution of high rigidity and high deformability helps to ensure that the occupants benefit from favourable kinematics in the event of a side impact:

The lower part of the B-pillar, an important component in side impacts, is highly compressible, whereas its upper part is extremely rigid. As a result, intrusions and the speed of intrusions in the lower area are reduced, while in the upper area high-strength steels on the exterior sides of the pillar prevent it from buckling unfavourably in a side impact. In addition, this design solution increases the stability of the passenger compartment in the event of a rollover
The stiffening of the floor structure by means of a supporting element made of an ultra-high-strength material running across the entire width of the vehicle, and ultra-high-strength reinforcements in the driver's seat crossmember, help to reduce deformations, primarily in the event of a pole impact. As a result, the occupant survival space benefits from even better protection, and the thorax load on the occupants is reduced
The geometry and body connections of the pillars and the roof frame made of ultra-high-strength material have been optimised to provide the best possible crash safety
A safe ending: the rear section

The rear area of the M-Class also protects the sturdy passenger compartment in crash situations thanks to specific deformation work, therefore minimising the loads on the occupants. A special impact test conducted to check tank leakage gives an indication of the exceptional load capabilities of the rear part of the M-Class body. The test involved running a crash carriage into the rear of the M-Class at 80 km/h. The tank system survived this fatal impact without suffering any leaks.

To enhance rigidity, increase the energy absorption capability and improve deformation behaviour, the multi-piece rear longitudinal members feature a continuous closed cross-section with stepped plate thicknesses (tailored blanks). The spare wheel well forms an integrated part of the steel floor, and a steel flexible bumper bracket carries the rear bumper covering and is connected to the rear structure via two steel crashboxes.

Comprehensive restraint systems for occupant protection

The passive occupant protection systems, together with the "electronic crumple zone" and intelligent body design which have already been described, provide optimum protection potential, placing the M-Class at the top of its market segment. As part of this, a number of new deployment strategies are used. For example, the system can detect an impending rollover in the event of crash and if necessary deploy the window airbags and the seat belt tensioners. Thanks to the new generously-sized side airbags and the window airbags with extended area of coverage, in the event of a side impact the occupants can be more uniformly supported from the shoulder area down to the pelvic area.

Additional protection potential is also provided for rear seat passengers with seat belt tensioners and force limiters on the outer seat positions. The integration of optional thorax bags in the tilt-adjustable folding seat backrests enables optimum airbag positioning for each backrest position. The components of the passive occupant protection systems include:

Two-stage adaptive airbags for the driver and front passenger
Kneebag for the driver
Sidebags for the driver and front passenger (combined thorax/pelvis bags)
Sidebags in the rear row of seats as an option
Windowbags across both rows of seats from the A- to the C-pillar
3-point seat belts on all five seats
Pyrotechnic reel tensioners and permanent belt force limiters as well as electrically reversible belt tensioners in the front, reel tensioners and single-stage force limiters for the outer seats in the rear
ISOFIX child seat attachment points
Belt height adjustment for the driver and front passenger
Belt status display for the rear-seat passengers in the instrument cluster
Automatic child seat recognition (optional) with deactivation of the front passenger airbag if a special Mercedes-Benz child seat is used
In a rear-end collision, a passive head restraint system developed specifically for this purpose can reduce the forces exerted on occupants
Occupants also protected after a crash

Even after an accident, the new M-Class can help prevent secondary accidents and protect the occupants. After a more serious crash, the hazard warning lights are automatically activated to warn surrounding traffic. At the same time, the doors are automatically unlocked so that the emergency services (if required) have the best possible unrestricted access to the passengers. And thanks to partial opening of the side windows, the interior is better ventilated after airbag deployment.

On detecting a collision, the central control unit switches off the fuel system to reduce the risk of a possible fire. After determining the cylinder positions, the engine management system opens the injection valves of those cylinders which are not under compression and discharges the high-pressure fuel area by direct evacuation of the remaining fuel in the combustion chamber. This further reduces the risk of fuel escaping. To avoid fuel losses, all M-Class models are also fitted with cut-resistant fuel lines in all relevant locations. This also helps to reduce the risk of a possible fire breaking out.

Tradition: Mercedes-AMG: the inventor of the high-performance SUV

The new ML63 AMG from Mercedes-AMG represents the third generation of the high-performance sport utility vehicle. The company from Affalterbach was the first to identify the potential of powerful and exclusive off-road vehicles and is recognised as the founder of the high-performance SUV segment. It all began in 1999 with the ML55 AMG: with a power output of 255 kW (347 hp), the top-of-the-range M-Class model powered by an AMG 5.5-litre V8 engine achieved a level of performance previously undreamt-of in this class, with acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h in just 6.8 seconds and a top speed of 235 km/h. The unusual combination of high-calibre drive, excellent off-road capabilities, outstanding ride comfort, unparalleled safety and a spacious interior delighted AMG customers throughout the world. Over 11,000 ML55 AMG models were sold between 1999 and 2003.

The follow-up ML63 AMG which was presented at the 2005 Frankfurt International Motor Show continued the success story that had begun with the ML55 AMG. With its AMG 6.3-litre V8 engine generating an output of 375 kW (510 PS) and 630 newton metres of torque, it again set the benchmark in its segment. The performance of the ML63 AMG was in the sports-car league: the top-of-the-range AMG model accelerated from 0 to 100 km/h in 5.0 seconds and had a top speed of 250 km/h (electronically limited). Over 13,000 were sold in total between 2006 and 2011. In all, AMG's sales figures for its high-performance SUVs total over 24,000 as of January 2012.

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