Quarter-mile times in the mid-13s and 0-60 mph in 5.3 seconds. That’s M3 territory. In a vehicle that’s huge, brawny and frictionally-challenged by all-wheel drive. Any way you look at it, these are awesome performance figures for the 2012 ML550. All the more when you consider that the SUV in question weighs 5,200 pounds. But then, the 4.6 liter twin turbo V8 powering the ML550 is an engineering marvel in itself, giving out 400 horsepower in its current form to give the W166 ML550 its sports car-like performance. At the same time, the ML550 avoids the label of being a gas guzzler. Officially at least.
Lest you think that this SUV is good for stoplight grands prix only, consider that a recent test generated .85g on the skidpad. Less than half a decade ago, performance like these could only be realistically expected from smaller, nimbler cars, not SUVs. Mind you, the ML550 has an even bigger brother in the form of the ML63 AMG, which offers even more mind-boggling performance for its size. But at almost $40,000 less, the ML550 hits an enticingly sweet spot in terms of value, practicality and performance.