The equations would have been slightly different in the Premium SUV category if the all-new Range Rover had gone on sale in the region while we were debating this year’s winners. Since it wasn’t, things were a bit easier for us, with all of us almost unanimously choosing the Mercedes ML 63 as the clear winner here.
While the premium part is a given as is the case of any Merc, the single most distinctive factor that blew us all away with its brilliance is the new twin-turbocharged 5.5-litre V8 that replaces the roaring naturally aspirated 6.2-litre V8 from before.
Although the exhaust noise is a tad muted in comparison to the screaming 6.2, the guys at AMG have managed to keep it blaring enough when you plant the throttle, with the 557 horses effortlessly tearing you away to 100kph in just 4.7 seconds before topping out at an electronically governed 250kph.
Although in theory the ML should be returning remarkably low fuel consumption figures of around 12 litres-per-100km, we could never see a number anywhere close to that region. That’s how much fun this engine is. The engine’s skills are perfectly matched by the seven-speed auto gearbox and the superbly weighted steering, which especially helps the car belie its 2.3-tonne heft.
Taking care of the dynamics behind the scenes is a host of advanced features like the Active Curve System that uses hydraulics to keep body roll under check. The best thing about the ML’s adaptive air suspension is that it juggles sportiness and comfort with equal ease.
That means while trying its best to keep the car planted around corners, the suspension also manages to offer a remarkably comfortable ride quality that’s as refined as any other premium vehicle in the class. What more could you ask for in a premium SUV? There’s nothing else that we could think of.