Redefining the high-performance SUV
Utter the three letters “SUV” and be prepared for many an auto enthusiast to begin rolling their eyes. But the Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S 4MATIC+ “Coupe” should at least pique the interest of even the most pure of gearheads, what with its otherworldly specs and mild-hybrid technology. Read on.
“Our new GLE 63 S Coupe rounds off our attractive performance SUV portfolio. It meets the highest expectations in terms of design and handling characteristics. Thus, our latest SUC (Sport Utility Coupe) is an outstanding example of luxurypPerformance made by AMG,” says Tobias Moers, board of management chairman at Mercedes-AMG GmbH. “The GLE 63 S 4MATIC+ Coupe utilizes the same 48-volt on-board electrical system and EQ Boost starter-alternator found in our other vehicles, allowing us to drive the electrification of our model series in a consistent, meaningful way.”
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: utility vehicles shouldn’t be called coupes. I mean sure: the GLE does have the extremely short overhangs, the huge 22-inch wheels, the raked roof. However, there are also the five doors, oversized proportions and off-road pretensions. Perhaps it’s time the industry came up with a new descriptor? But I digress.
AMG-specific design elements include the polished vertically-slatted grille, massive jet-engine-inspired front bumper air intakes, black lower body cladding all around and a significant rear diffuser wrapped around quad rectangular tailpipes.
Inside, occupants will find a unique three spoke nappa leather steering wheel and aluminum paddles, matching upholstered seating and exclusive badging throughout the space. At night, highly customizable ambient lighting bathes the cabin in a soft-coloured glow. The Mercedes-Benz User Experience (MBUX) infotainment system is standard, and is programmed here to display performance data like g-forces, lap times and engine fluid temperature.
The 63 S’ powertrain is a special one. A monstrous hand-built 4.0-litre bi-turbo V8 propels the near 2,500-kilogram vehicle, pushing 603 horsepower and 627 lb-ft of torque, mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission.
Mounted between the two is the aforementioned EQ Boost, a small electric motor responsible for a variety of functions like running the air conditioner compressor, allowing limited zero-emissions coasting, smoothing out the auto stop-start functionality and providing an additional 21 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque under high-throttle scenarios.
Needless to say the SUV is no slouch. The official 0 to 100 km/h figure is 3.8 seconds and top speed is rated at 280 km/h. The 4MATIC+ all-wheel drive is rear-biased, and possesses variable torque distribution to imperceptibly support a slipping wheel in inclement weather or loose surfaces. Further assisting in gaining traction quickly is an electronically-controlled locking differential at the rear axle.
Due to a feature called ACTIVE RIDE CONTROL roll stabilization, the GLE isn’t too bad at negotiating turns, either. Powered by EQ Boost and comprised of two independent electromechanical actuators mounted on each of the axles, they counteract dreaded body roll even at high speeds, capable of responding to driving inputs and the current environment within milliseconds. When travelling in a straight line, the tech can balance out one-sided bumps.
Motor: 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged V8
Horsepower: 603 @ 5,750 rpm
Torque (lb-ft): 627 @ 2,500 rpm
Gearbox: nine-speed automatic
Layout: front engine, all-wheel drive
Fuel economy: 14.7 L/100 km mixed city/highway (manufacturer estimate)