Utility, meet sport

  • Maserati Kubang
  • Mercedes-Benz ML 63 AMG ML 63 AMG ( BR 166 , 2011 ) Diamantweiß metallic, Leder schwarz
Date:24 March 2012 Tags:, , ,

There was a time when the Sport part of the SUV equation was obscured by the Utility part. Not any more – and especially not at the high end. BMW’s X5 spawned a host of lookalikes, with Porsche’s Cayenne perhaps the ultimate current example of a super-SUV. Two new examples of the genre show two approaches to the same goal.

Maserati Kubang

The first Kubang concept was shown at the Detroit Show in 2003. The 2012 version, created by the Maserati Style Centre headed by Lorenzo Ramaciotti and to be built in the US, will lean heavily on the expertise available within its Fiat-Chrysler family, but will remain “100 per cent Maserati”, the company promises. New-generation Maserati engines being designed for this SUV in Modena, Italy, will be produced by Ferrari and will be mated to a new 8-speed automatic transmission. Similarly, Modena will be the base for development of dedicated componentry including suspension, brakes, steering and electronics.

Mercedes-Benz ML63 AMG

With a 5,5-litre V8 biturbo engine developing 386 kW and 700 N.m, you’d expect the new ML 63 AMG to have blistering performance. What you wouldn’t expect is a combined cycle economy of 11,8 litres/100 km and 276 g/km of CO2, bettering its predecessor by a massive 28 per cent.

Oh, and for those who feel shortchanged by the standard AMG drivetrain there’s an AMG Performance package that ups turbo boost from 1,0 to 1,3 bar, raising output to 410 kW and 760 N.m. Amazingly, economy and emissions are the same. For the record, the Performance upgrade knocks one-tenth off the standard 0-100 acceleration time of 4,8 seconds.

Curve cure. The ML 63’s air suspension with adaptive damping and automatic level control is combined for the fi rst time with what M-B calls the Active Curve system: active anti-roll bars on both front and rear axles counteract body roll during cornering.