Efficiency is not something you’ll read too often with reference to Mercedes' big ML 63 AMG, so what’s changed with the new version?Affalterbach’s released details and images of its high-performance ML facelift, with the big news a 28% drop in fuel consumption to a claimed "perfect afternoon" 11.8 litres/100km. THREE DRIVING MODESAs with the E63 AMG facelift recently launched in South Africa, this high-performance SUV is powered by AMG’s 5.5-litre biturbo V8 with 386kW/700Nm on tap. Despite the lower fuel consumption, the use of the biturbo V8 pushes up output up by 11kW/70Nm. Add the AMG performance pack and these figures are bumped up to a whopping 410kW/760Nm, thanks to a burst of boost from one to 1.3 bar. The new ML63 AMG’s V8 has spray-guided direct petrol injection, a start/stop system and an all-aluminium crankcase. In line with its high-riding sports-car personality, this ML accelerates to 100km/h in 4.8sec (4.7 for the performance pack version) and top speed is electronically limited to 250km/h. GENTLE BRUISER: The new ML 63 AMG comes with start/stop. As with other AMG products, power in the ML63 AMG is transmitted to all wheels through AMG’s Speedshift Plus 7G-Tronic transmission with three driving programmes and an automatic double-declutch function on downshifts. Which sounds cool...This AMG also has a special transfer case for the 4Matic all-wheel drive that splits torque 40/60 to the front/rear axles.The start/stop function is active in "controlled efficiency" mode, which also signals more gentle throttle and transmission activities. Sport and manual driving modes, which would be slightly less efficient than "controlled efficiency", release the AMG’s agility and shorten shift times. The start/stop function is also deactivated. The AMG’s reduced average fuel consumption is credited to a range of clever technical solutions, such as axle gears with minimal friction loss, electronic speed-sensitive steering and ancillary units that are electronically activated only when required. Importantly, the new ML63 AMG is 40kg lighter than its predecessor. SPORT, AIRY SUSPENSIONDecent ride quality is the work of AMG’s sports suspension with Airmatic and independent damper struts with self-adapting shock-absorbers that feature, for the first time, an "active curve system" that promises active roll stabilisation by using active anti-roll bars on both axles to aid cornering control and high-speed stability. Furthermore, the air suspension is speed-sensitive and lowers the body at higher speeds to minimise drag and increase stability. AMG CACHET: The new ML 3 AMG looks the high-performance part with its range of AMG paraphernalia and menacing quad tailpipes. The ML63 AMG comes with 20”, five-spoked alloy rims with a high-sheen titanium finish; monster 21” rims are an option. Stopping power is the work of AMG’s high-performance braking system with ventilated and perforated brake discs all round - 390x36mm up front, and 345x26mm at the rear. As for its appearance, the racing ML picks up on the recent redesign of the rest of the ML range but adds high-gloss paint for the louvres; the three-pointed star doubles as a large air intake. An AMG apron is finished by a trim strip in matte silver chrome to blend in quite nicely with the surrounds of the daytime running lights. Ata the rear black air intakes show up the AMG’s two pairs of tail pipes. THE AMG LOOKThe interior is finished in aluminium with piano-black accents and contrasting stitching for the leather upholstery; there's a colour TFT display exclusive to the ML63 AMG. An AMG-specific, flat-bottomed, four-spoked steering wheel and AMG sports seats complete the look. Other standard items include stainless-steel AMG sills and sports pedals, an audio system with Bluetooth and USB port and heatable front seats. Choose the AMG performance pack and, apart from the surge in power, you will also get a carbon-fibre engine cover, red brake calipers and an AMG Performance steering wheel. Other than looking good and going fast, the ML63 AMG has to be safe so has up to nine air bags, emergency braking pressure, crash-anticipating Pre-Safe, adaptive brake lights and ESP. Mercedes-Benz SA says the ML63 AMG will be launched here in the second quarter of 2012.