I must confess that I’ve never been a big fan of high-performance SUVs – mainly because of their compromised driving dynamics. After all, their weight and centre of gravity don’t really do them any favours on the road. And so I’ve always found myself more attracted to sedans or coupes – machines that are closer to the ground, and more akin to respond to the input of the driver.
Of late, however, my opinion has changed drastically. New SUVs are far more sorted, and some are actually fun to drive – such as the BMW X5 or Mercedes ML. Not to forget, of course, that they’re quite practical and offer a ride height that avoids the majority of nasty obstacles on our roads.
On the cover of this issue, you’ll see the ML 63 AMG sneaking out from behind the ‘T’ in autoX. Driving a car like that on the track, and having driven it on the road prior to that, does make me question the premise of high-performance SUV’s in a market like ours. Don’t get me wrong, I like AMGs and the ML 63 has a great engine with a lovely soundtrack and a lot of power – but it’s just that the 258 horsepower produced by the ML 350 CDI is more than enough. Plus, the ML 350 is more comfortable as well.
The ML 63 AMG is obnoxiously fast and heavy, but it’s the top dog of the ML range – which means that it’s also very expensive. So, the real question is how much of the 550 horses that it produces would you end up using on a daily basis? Well, given our conditions, probably not a whole lot!
Personally, if I was looking to spend that kind of money, I would buy a ML 350 and use the change to spring for a CLA 45 as well – basically killing two birds with one stone. The ML would be the perfect daily driver, while the CLA would be the indulgence to have a little bit of fun over the weekends. Not only can this be achieved in roughly the same budget as the ML 63, but it also offer two specialised cars that are well suited to their respective purpose.
But, then again, there are those customers – even in India – who want nothing but the top-of-the-range model, cost be damned. But I think you could count those kinds of buyers on your fingertips really.
I suppose the ultimate irony in my chain of thought is the fact that – if I had the cash – the first car I would get is the G 63 AMG. It’s perhaps the worst driving high-performance SUV there is. In fact, having spent some time with it, I can confirm that it’s so bad at times that it’s perfect. It’s one of those rare machines that are certifiably cool.
So, if you’re fortunate enough to have a stack or two or cash stashed away to spend on something that pulls at your heartstrings, I suppose you don’t really have to rationalise it. After all, who said all your decisions had to be practical?