CHATHAM, Mass. – The marketing tag line puts it succinctly – “not an SUV . . . an AMG” – in describing the 14-vehicle sport-utility lineup which Mercedes-Benz performance brand has transformed into very un-utilitarian machines. Our week was in the Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S Coupe, the fastback version of the company’s two-row mid-size sport utility pumped with the AMG steroids as well as (seemingly) all the technology the German manufacturer had at its disposal.
The S Coupe we drove had it all – and then some, not a surprise considering its $116,000 base price and $133,830 as-reviewed sticker (including $1,050 for destination and delivery). This figure means the AMG GLE 63 S Coupe is not for everyone, but for the discerning buyer who wants the absolute cutting edge in vehicle engineering and dynamics, active and passive safety systems, in-car technology, on-road performance, off-road capability, comfort and convenience amenities as well as a reputation based on more than 135 years of automotive excellence (the world’s oldest car company), it delivers the goods.
It all starts under the hood
The 63 in the SUV’s name indicates a handcrafted 4-liter biturbo V8 engine, with an electrified EQ Boost starter-generator, producing 603 horsepower and 627 pounds-feet of torque burbling under the hood, providing enough to propel the almost 5,500-pound large mid-size SUV from 0-60 miles per hour in a supercar 3.7 seconds!
And the refined all-wheel drive (AWD), 4MATIC in Mercedes-Benz speak, working with the AMG SPEEDSHIFT TCT nine-speed automatic transmission, .35 coefficient of drag and aggressive engineering allowed me to achieve 19.5 miles per gallon in my driving compared to the 17 mpg the federal Environmental Protection Agency rates it at in combined operations (15 city, 19 highway).
The chassis features self-leveling AMG ACTIVE RIDE CONTROL+ with Active Roll Stabilization Adaptive Damping System Plus (ADS Plus) and 22-inch AMG cross-spoke forged wheels with 285/40R22 tires on the front and 325/35R22 on the rear. This provides sports-car like handling precision regardless of the challenges from the road ahead.
Bringing this serious machine to a halt are huge power-assisted four-wheel ventilated disc brakes, 15.8-inches in the front, 14.6 at the rear.
Pushing down on the accelerator and giving the AMG GLE 63 S Coupe its head produces nothing but exhilaration – whether you’re headed in a straight line, passing traffic on the highway, coming down twisting mountain roads or carving through undulating rural areas. This is a SUV meant to be driven; a real driver’s car!
Technology to enhance safety and driving performance
Mercedes-Benz has been putting safety at the forefront of its design and engineering for decades pioneering crush-zone technology, anti-lock brakes, adaptive cruise control, placement of the fuel tank to avoid punctures in crashes, to name just a few. The AMG GLE 63 S Coupe continues this tradition in both the design of the overall vehicle to minimize injuries to occupants and those outside the vehicle in the event of a crash to the vehicle’s systems which help the driver operate in a safer, more controlled manner.
Standard safety and advanced driver-assist systems (ADAS) on the AMG GLE 63 S Coupe included: active brake assist; blind-spot assist; adaptive high beam assist; active parking assist; surround-view camera; electronic stability program (ESP); anti-lock braking (ABS) and the Mercedes-Benz PRE-SAFE® Protective Occupant-Protection System.;
The review unit added the optional Driver Assistance Package Plus ($1,950) which included: Active Distance Assist DISTRONIC®; active steering assist; active lane-change assist; active emergency stop assist; active speed-limit assist; active brake assist with cross-traffic function; evasive-steering assist; active blind-spot assist; PRE-SAFE PLUS (ear-end collision protection); PRE-SAFE Impulse Side; route-based speed adaptation; active stop-and-go assist, and traffic-sign assist.
In addition, the SUV had a detailed, customizable and large heads-up display to help the driver keep his/her eyes on the road and still be informed about what the vehicle is doing.
These lists do not justify the amount of help the GLE S Coupe provides all drivers under all conditions get the most from the vehicle as well as being able to maneuver it through a wide diversity of conditions.
Many of the systems can be customized to fit an individual driver’s routine but leaving them in default positions provides excellent coverage.
Inside technology coddles and serves
The standard amenities, like the 12.3-inch color touchscreen at the heart of the infotainment/navigation systems, dual-zone automatic climate control system, heated/ventilated/power-adjusted Napa-leather-upholstered front seats, panorama sunroof and even a heated/cooled front cupholder, are up to Mercedes-Benz standards.
The various option packages on the review Coupe brought touches like rapid-heating front seats (which truly worked as advertised when temperatures took a sudden fall), heated rear seats, massaging front seats, heated front armrests and center console, and a Burmester® High-End 3D Surround Sound system.
This is truly a top-level member of the luxury SUV group, but being a Mercedes-Benz at its heart, it is anything but soft. But it is comfortable in a solid, Germanic way. There is no way to detail all of the features, systems, technologies and capabilities of the 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S Coupe. The more the driver learns about these, the more he/she can get out of it, but at any level, the driving experience is simply wonderful.