If there were any doubts about Mercedes-Benz's intent to keep the ML63 AMG in rotation, these photos should assuage the living crap out of them. A pre-production prototype was just spotted outside the Barnes & Noble in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, 20 miles west of the MB plant in Vance.

Our spotter says the prototype appeared to be in final shakedown testing:

All of the badges were covered, including the interior. From what I could see, the car looked to be a pre-production car. The front and rear bumpers were covered but appeared to be slightly more aggressive, The brakes on this car were massive, but they were steel not carbon-ceramic.

We're not certain in which show the ML will debut — Frankfurt or LA, but it'll likely get AMG's twin-turbocharged 5.5-liter V8, producing 518 hp and 516 lb-ft in stock form or 550/590 with the performance pack, and AMG's SPEEDSHIFT MCT seven-speed transmission.

(Thanks to Matt for the tip!)