Quarter-price Merc GLE 63 S will humble Ferrari’s first-ever SUV
It’s been an interesting motoring week. Ferrari unleashed it’s all-new Purosangue SUV. And begged us not to call it a truck. But it is. Maranello promises it will do 60 mph in 3.3 seconds. Which is quite something for what will surely be north of $400,000. Especially when we went just tenths slower testing this Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S Coupé, which also just happened to come our way this week.
Never Mind the Sink, GLE 63 Has the Whole Kitchen!
Unlike Maranello, its Stuttgart F1 rival is not scared to call its quarter price AMG GLE 63 S Coupé a SUV. Because like the Italian car, it is. Packing AMG’s mad 603 horsepower 627 pound-foot 4-litre biturbo petrol V8 and never mind the sink, it quite literally has the whole hotel kitchen in there, Best of all however, this Merc stopped our VBox clocks at 3.5 seconds to 60 mph.
Like the bullet out of a gun, GLE 63 S is blasted along by its AMG handcrafted 450 kW 850 Nm 4-litre biturbo V8 aided and abetted by a 20 HP 182 lb.-ft integrated EQ Boost starter-alternator. It packs four-cylinder deactivation to help save fuel, when it purrs like lion. Turning all four wheels through its AMG fiddled 4Matic all-wheel drive, its feisty 9-speed automatic also comes under that AMG spell.
A monster in every way, this coupé SUV doesn’t just blast to 60 mph in as good as 3.5 seconds, but it can also run 180 mph. With our specimen’s optional AMG Driver’s package. All while wrapping you in the absolute lap of supreme luxury. You’d better believe it. That’s what the Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 Coupé 4Matic is all about.
Monstrous Acceleration, an Animal Roar
Monstrous in acceleration, that lion’s purr becomes an animal roar when teased. Spine chilling and quite mesmerizing, it stuffs you back in the seat. Can it possibly weigh two and a half tons? The 9-speed gearbox is equally ruthless, yet super smooth as it always finds the right gear for your immediate situation.
Packing AMG Ride Control+ pneumatic self-levelling air suspension with a special spring and damper set-up and Adaptive Damping Plus, GLE 63 S makes huge strides in ride and handling. Active Engine Mounts bring outstanding driving dynamics without compromising comfort. There’s a soft setting for cruising and stiffer one for racy driving. Active Roll Stabilization makes it even more dynamic and ride height control keeps it on an even keel, no matter what the load.
Handling and road holding instill supreme trust. GLE 63 S is precise and shockingly exact for the behemoth it is. Those huge Michelin Pilot Sport 4s take everything you throw at them with absolute aplomb. It maintains a neutral tack and there is no over, nor understeer. All that said, it does tend to lurch a little when really asked on a decent strip of winding tarmac. The rigors of the ride heights it needs to be called an SUV. Never mind its heft.
GLE 63 S Brakes Better than it Accelerates
Braking is immense. Mammoth 15.7 by 1.5-inch thick vented and perforated integral front and 14.5 by 1.25-inch rear clamps retard it more impressively than GLE 63 S accelerates. It’s big, but this car is solid, nimble, and finely balanced to drive. Overall poise is way beyond what you’d expect from a vehicle this size, no matter what the road surface, it handles anything from smooth highways to rutted, pot-hole infested stretches with aplomb.
The GLE 63 has six driving modes from Comfort to Sport Plus and even Trail and Sand. Even if the latter are redundant. It also packs a raft of driver assistance gadgets, of which latest spec route based Live Traffic Distronic speed adjustable Active Distance Assist is a hoot to use.
Getting back to the more mundane stuff, imposing is not the word. Dramatically enhanced by those monster wheels, this tortoise on stilts cuts through the wind in elegant record aerodynamic form. GLE is also longer, wider, and lower and has a longer wheelbase than before, for a bigger, more spacious, and comfier cabin.
Chopped Behind Makes Little difference
Being a chopped off station wagon makes little difference. The Coupé trunk is still cavernous enough. It has a handy 7,700 lbs. braked towing and luggage capacity that grows cavernous with the 40:20:40 split second row seat stowed. One Coupé shortfall is a lower door head. It impinges on access and egress for bigger, older people like me. Which is probably the lion’s share of this car’s target market. Smaller types need not be so concerned.
Once aboard, you’re in the lap of luxury. Benz’s crisp, cavernous cabin steals the show in spacious, sensual AMG Nappa leather style. It’s dominated by that splendid widescreen Starship Enterprise ‘Hey Mercedes’ MBUX artificial intelligence infotainment cockpit. We like Merc’s steering-controlled infotainment best. A tiny touch pad on each stalk runs everything. Infotainment the left, while the right controls the dash. It may have been superseded, but we prefer this solution.
It’s not cheap at over $117,000. And it devours a gallon of premium for every sane 17 miles driven, on average. There are cheaper, more normal, and more frugal GLE Coupés too, if you’re not quite up to this one’s Vader appeal. Overall, however, if you’re looking for a premium super SUV, this thing screams it. And GLE 63 S Coupé flies that three-pointed star and its AMG stripes with great aplomb.
Is GLE 63 S King of the Road?
It would be a big deal to call any car the King of the Road. That’s a risqué call to make all by itself. But if ever a car had all the elements that you’d need to call it that, then this Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S fits the bill. Superbly built, supremely comfortable and stupidly fast, it’s also safe as houses, great to look at and splendid to drive, whatever the conditions.
And at a quarter of the price of some new-fangled rivals that cannot go much more than a couple of tenths faster to 60 mph, it’s all of a sudden, a bargain too. Even if it’s that side of a hundred grand on your driveway.
ROAD TESTED: Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S Coupé
Engine: 603 HP 627 lb.- 4-litre biturbo petrol V8
Drive: 9-speed Automatic AWD
0-40 mph: 1.78 sec
0-60 mph: 3.57 sec
0-100 km/h: 5.06 sec
¼-mile: 11.9 sec @ 111 mph
50-75 mph: 2.44 sec
75-100 mph: 3.48 sec
VMax: 180 mph
Fuel: 15 mpg
LIST PRICE: $117,850