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LEAD: Lifestyle Motoring: A Teutonic duo

Mercedes Benz ML 63 AMG

Epic luxury on and off road

Since the launch of the ML, Mercedes has been trying to combine both luxury and prestige in an all-road SUV that is both comfortable and has a fair amount of ‘go anywhere’ attitude about it. Its new ML resonates with all of the above criteria and certainly stays true to the ML brand, with the ML 63 version I tested having a distinctly sporty look and feel. The most powerful version of the ML series to date, the 63 has one of the best sounding engines around.

The 63 is immediately identifiable by its prominent raised front and rear fascias and distinctive new side skirts and front fenders. It features sporty-looking front and rear bumpers, rather large brake disks and AMG logoed callipers.

Inside the 63, oversized sports seats that contour your body welcome you. With the press of a button, you’ll have a fit and driving position that are perfect for you. Its sports steering wheel is the same as that of the sports sedan AMG vehicles. The carbon-fibre dashboard hints that this is no ordinary ML.

Rear seat passengers are included in the luxurious experience — they get to cruise along on a super comfy and sporty rear bench. Passengers are treated to individually controlled heating and cooling. Not only is the 63 slick, she is also practical. The gearshift is conveniently located behind the steering wheel and the space in the
centre console is large enough to accommodate an indulgent lifestyle of morning mega coffees. Its boot is cavernous and one has the option of lowering the rear seats, making for a large, almost flat, load area.

If you slip into the driver’s seat and press the start button you’ll experience a sudden assault on all your senses. The audible growling of the 5.5l V8 engine as it comes to life will give you and your passengers goose bumps. As the motor settles down, the
growl becomes more of a purr and as she warms up, you can all settle in for a quiet and luxurious ride. She handles well on the road, smoothly taking corners that would challenge most other sedans.

The sheer power and torque of the engine is unbelievable and thanks to the twin turbos, this kind of power is available most of the time while driving. Many have said that power corrupts. I say you can use the power to make you a safer, better driver.

You’ll never need to spend a long time overtaking another car with that sort of engine — no matter how long the truck in front of you is. Besides, with the roar that emanates from her when pressing down on the accelerator, most cars will likely just move out of your way.

The ML 63 offers a choice of driving modes, ranging from economical to outright mind blowing. It’s also quite capable of going off the beaten track, although with a lower ground clearance than the conventional ML. Mercedes has bypassed
ground-clearance criticism by adding a setting which allows one to increase the ride height — just in case you do need to climb over a rock instead of going around it, or on the off chance that you need to pass through a river. They really have thought of everything. Overall I have to admit that the new Mercedes Benz ML has taken the soft roader to a new level in terms of comfort and practicality. It is both sporty and sophisticated and has raised the bar for vehicles in its class.

With the ML 63 AMG the world is your oyster. Just remember to keep filling up as you do tend to run out of fuel pretty quickly, especially when the vehicle is in sport mode. So if you can get it, all I can say is why not enjoy!

5.5l V8 Cylinder Biturbo
4.8 Sec (Claimed)
Average 11.8l/100km
276 g/km
Price :
From R1 405 662,00

Car courtesy of Mercedes-Benz South Africa

AUDI S4 Avant

A station wagon with style and speed.
Station wagons are known to be sensible and practical family vehicles, if you don’t fancy an SUV. They usually have a decent motor that has some power, but nothing more than the average person would require – though with the added bonus of a boot big enough to lug along the kitchen sink for holidays. Modern station wagons have also become less of an eyesore, with some looking better than a brick on the road.

The S4 offers all the usual features of a station wagon, but with the added benefit of being stylish. I test drove the sportier version of the S4, which features mag wheels. Although it was not overly racy or sporty, my test vehicle did have the S-Line
feature. Appearance wise, the S4 looks very similar to the A4 Avant, with the only give-away being its twin exhaust pipes on either side of the rear bumper.

The addition of LED headlights and a large, chrome grill at the rear, lends the S4 an impressive appearance. This station wagon is one of the better looking vehicles of its kind on the road.

The cabin interior has the feel of a sports car — sport bucket seats up front, embossed with the S4 logo, and a thick, leather steering wheel which has good
feedback when on the go. These features combine to give the feel of a sports car rather than a station wagon. On the road, the S4 Avant shows why it is really different from other station wagons. Its 3 litre V6 TFSi engine feels more like a 4 litre engine, and thanks to the Quattro system, she sticks to the road like a pit bull to a piece of meat.

No matter the road surface or weather conditions, the S4 is sure-footed and stable. Put your foot down on the accelerator and the car accelerates like a rocket… it’s hard to believe that a station wagon can have so much power and be such fun to drive. I enjoyed the Avant so much that if I were to buy a station wagon, I am convinced this would be the way to go. Audi’s S4 looks good, drives fantastically and there is ample boot space. What more could you ask for in a station wagon? If you prefer a sportier look, Audi have just launched the RS4 Avant that is not only powerful, but also looks the part.

Overall, I think this new S4 Avant — a station wagon on steroids with excellent fuel
consumption and good road holding — is sure to carve out a niche for itself in the
market, providing an attractive alternative to the SUV. Designed for the person who needs the extra space, the S4 in particular is a real wolf in sheep’s clothing.

Racers, you have been warned: this car may look like a normal station wagon — but it’s not. ❐

Manufacturer Specifications :
3.0l V6 Cylinder
Power :
Tor que:
5.1 Sec (Claimed)
Consumptio n:
Average 8.4l/100km
197 g/km
Price :
From R657 000,00

Car courtesy of Audi South Africa.

Author: Azim Omar CA(SA) is a member of SAGMJ.