Carlsson has brought us its take on the range-topping ML - the 430bhp CM50 K. It's about as responsible as a 'Guns for Kids' campaign, but you've got to love it anyway.
Now if you're the kind of person that drives a five-litre off-roader then you clearly believe that global warming is a lie propagated for fiendish taxation reasons, or just somebody else's problem. But what if you could do more to burn up the world?
What if you alone could reduce a section of Papua New Guinea to scorched Earth? What about burning your own personal hole in the ozone layer? What if you could fit that gas-guzzler with a supercharger big enough to suck bunnies in and spit them out the rear as noxious fumes and children's tears? Surely you'd have to think along those lines to want this kind of car.
Luckily Carlsson caters for such requests, and brought us its take on the range-topping ML - the 430bhp CM50 K. It's about as responsible as a 'Guns for Kids' campaign, but you've got to love it anyway.
The last generation ML was awful, an overweight tank-grade car with all the finesse of a Middle Eastern execution. This new car is much, much better. Sleeker, faster and better equipped than its predecessor, the new SUV is a sexier proposition that has been taken to heart by the bling loving rap fans and company directors alike that have bought into the whole off-road lifestyle ethos wholesale.
But the conversion looks like it would go down more comfortably in a West Coast strip meet rather than a company car-park in Munich. It may be just slightly too bling for the business community, but that's only down to the monster wheels and as always there are choices.
A new rear apron, front grille and lip spoiler cold be the only obvious external mods if you so choose, together with the polished exhaust pipes, of course, but this big beast could prove a real sleeper - if you're the type that likes blowing off sportscars in a van-sized car. I never truly saw the point, but it gets some people off and these SUV conversions are big sellers in the Russian, American and Middle Eastern markets - big ones in other words.
The work under the bonnet is mind-boggling, with more than 100 new components including that ballistic new supercharger. It's a Wankel variety with a clutch, intercooler and various other mods, rather than the screw-type favoured by AMG, which company boss Rolf Hartge believes makes for a smoother kick and a more driveable car. Here the end result is a powerplant with 430bhp and a simply stupid 480lb/ft of torque.
That's enough to unstick all four wheels on really cold tarmac, for a fraction of a second at least, before this 2.1-tonne whale of a car lunges off down the road like the snapping action of an elastic band. There's no finesse, you simply can't expect that from a truck that hits 60mph in 5.6s.
But the best way to do it is to get the V8 on boost and roaring, sidestep the brake pedal and the car simply catapults off the line - burning up a few trees in the process. This engine shredded rear tyres in Carlsson's saloons, but the solid stance and all-wheel drive means all that power gets put to the road and the ML burns through the gears with near-stupid enthusiasm.
It runs out of puff at 162mph, but with this kind of weight you can't expect much more without full engine transplants, and it's more than fast enough for a two-tonner.
It's a car built for the outside lane of the Autobahn, with a high seating position giving a good view of the road ahead and that much metal creating a feeling of invincibility even in the worst conditions thanks to the technology on board.
If you've got the nerve this thing will easily cruise deep into triple figures in standing water, though an emergency braking manoeuvre might moisten the pants of even the most up-for-it driver.
A new set of sports springs drops the ML down a massive 40mm on to those imposing 23" Ultra Lights, which would win this car instant respect, anywhere, and this tried and trusted formula actually provides the car-like handling the manufacturers bragged about but didn't necessarily provide in the first place.
Of course there's a payoff in that the minor ripples and bumps that the old car would simply have squashed now make their presence known through the wheel. But a car this size doesn't fidget and there's no correction required as it will simply swallow up road without any meaningful input. In fact step beyond its limits and all the correction in the world won't help, the corner speed either falls within the four-wheel drive's capability or Physics and weight take over and pull what suddenly feels like a bus wide of the apex.
On dry roads, though, it's surprisingly good, with pitch and roll only creeping in when the realms of normal driving have been left far behind and you're left simply goading a car into getting it wrong. Most of us would simply marvel at the comfort, speed and sheer roadholding ability of this big Stuttgart tank, and it wasn't really built for the backroads in any case.
That stiffer suspension is built with the highway's long, sweeping bends in mind, not a tortuous B-road. It's the car for the man who has something else to play with at the weekend and was never going to be the most entertaining drive.
But it's not that kind of car, it's built for the long-haul. It's big, it's comfortable and breathtakingly quick, fast enough to hang with the fast-trackers on the left-lane of the Autobahn and blessed with enough torque and a slick enough automatic transmission to dismiss long journeys with a click of the right foot.
The CM50 K has also retained the traditional big Mercedes values of comfort and excess power under the right foot. And it's also cool enough to fight it out with the BMW X5, Audi Q7 and Porsche Cayenne, thanks to a complete rethink by Mercedes and some subtle bling from Carlsson. And that noxious great supercharger, of courseÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â¦