Some of you may recall, nearly three decades ago, if you drove what we refer to as SUV’s the general driving public knew that you should not take corners or highway on and off ramps at high speeds because SUV’s had a tendency to roll. The combination of a high center of gravity and, let’s face it, suspension systems that made your boat feel like it was sports car, the result was a “Sport” utility vehicle that lacked any definition of sport that should be connected to four wheeled vehicles. Fast forward to present times and as a car enthusiast I am shocked at what is capable by modern day SUV’s, especially those massaged by the magic fingers of skunk work divisions of luxury brands like AMG, M-Division. Enter the Mercedes AMG GLE 63s. If I was to define a SUV that epitomizes what is possible from a performance utility vehicle, this would be it.
Weighing in at 5,456 lbs or 2,449 kg the GLE 63s is powered by a 4.0L twin-turbo V8 generating 603 hp and 627 lb-ft of torque. It injects up to 18.9 psi of boost into its lungs and produces its maximum heft from as low as 2,500 rpm. Mercedes further sandwiches in a 48v hybrid electric motor that produces 21 hp and 184 lb-ft. Versions of this hand crafted master piece and powerhouse are used by Aston Martin. In the GLE 63s the translation of all this mechanical power is a mind boggling dash to 60 in 3.7 seconds. That’s 1.5 times the weight of your average car accelerating like a supercar. However, unlike your average supercar, you can seat 5 comfortably and pack your picnic, chairs and cooler with ease.
Unlike other steroid injected Super SUV’s, the GLE 63s opts not to be the fastest or most powerful. It rather aims to be an all-rounder. It provides arguably the most compliant ride especially when compared to its closest competitor the X6/X5 M. It soaks up road imperfections like its more subdued brethren the GLE 450 yet still provides ample confidence when carving the back roads. Brake and steering feeling is sharp, but, maybe a little uncommunicative. The joy comes from the symphony of that Bi-Turbo V8. It has an almost muscle car like characteristic. Throaty and deep, it growls rather than screams as your senses take in the glory begging you to keep that throttle pinned as often as possible. From start to redline, you and anyone within ear shot is reminded that this is not your average GLE, it’s special. My sister-in-law likened it to hearing a tiger roar and that description is spot on. All of this glorious noise and power transition to the ground via AMG’s Performance 4Matic+ all-wheel drive system that transfers power to the front axle as the traction demands increase, ensuring all 603 hp reach the pavement.
Behind the wheel, you feel snug like a fighter jet cockpit. The center console houses two hand rails. Believe you me, they will be well used by your passenger. I like to aptly call them holy s**t bars. The interior is normal GLE fair, except that you’re surrounded by ample amounts of Alcantara and carbon fiber accents. Mercedes dual 12.3 inch screens create a seamless panoramic screen housing the infotainment and LCD gauge cluster. The MBUX system is one of the most feature rich systems available in any vehicle. It provides endless levels of customization. Combine this with no less than 5 methods of accessing the system, with one of them being an AI voice activated system. AMG’s Dynamic Select drive settings allow you to pick Comfort, Sport, Sport+, and Race modes, each one alters the GLE’s steering, throttle, suspension, and shift points. Every day drives are handled in comfort, allowing for the quietest and smoothest ride. Sport and Sport+ lower the GLE 63 S by 0.4 inch for reductions in body roll. The GLE’s 48-volt AMG Active Ride Control electronically compensates for body roll and shifts in weight.
AMG’s GLE 63s enters a rarified group of SUV’s that produce 600+ hp power. This group is limited to the likes of BMW, Porsche, Bentley, Rolls Royce, Lamborghini and Jeep (yes, Jeep). All but three of them when properly optioned sit north of $200,000.00. Our as tested GLE 63s Coupe came in at $150,600.00. This puts the GLE 63s in a sweet spot of rare luxury, speed and power and excuse the use of this word, but in comparison, value. The GLE provides the best all-rounder. It drives softer, sounds better and drives just as hard as others at a better price point, in the words of the immortal Kramer “Giddy up!”