Mercedes-AMG GLE63 S Coupe First Look
Fastback SUV’s AMG Power Takes Fight to BMW X6 M
It still feels weird applying the word “coupe” to SUVs. The BMW X6, MINI Cooper Paceman, and Range Rover Evoque all feature it in their job descriptions, but it doesn’t seem to suit them quite right. After all, aren’t coupes supposed to be low-slung, lithe, speedy machines?
Well, if that’s your definition of coupe, then the Mercedes-AMG GLE63 S might fit the bill nicely. Built as a rival for the impressive BMW X6 M, the GLE63 includes AMG’s near-ubiquitous twin-turbo 5.5L V-8 motor, cranking out 577 hp and 561 lb-ft of torque in this application. That power rating ties or eclipses most of the vehicles in Mercedes-AMG’s lineup, including the upcoming GT sports car, the C63 coupe, and even early iterations of the mighty SLS AMG “Gullwing.” For the record, Mercedes has only confirmed the existence of the GLE63 S, so it’s possible that a lower-output GLE63 (without the S suffix) could be in the pipeline.
Mercedes-AMG is keen to point out that their newest performance model isn’t merely a handbuilt motor in a swoopy, crossover shell. 4MATIC, the company’s all-wheel-drive system, comes standard in the GLE63, and in this application, it’s biased 60 percent toward the rear wheels for better balance in corners. Variable roll bars come standard in the GLE63, part of the so-called Active Curve System that automatically reduces roll in sharp turns and provides greater wheel control. Airmatic air suspension comes equipped on the GLE63 with AMG’s Ride Control system, a set of infinitely variable dampers that help the driver tailor the vehicle’s behavior to the task at hand.
The 7GTRONIC 7-speed dual-clutch transmission and 4MATIC help the GLE bolt to 60 mph in just 4.2 seconds, according to Mercedes. As could be expected, the transmission can be shifted manually via steering-wheel-mounted shift paddles; however, in full manual mode, the GLE gives the driver complete control and will not up- or downshift without the driver’s permission. In many ways, the GLE63 likes to give the driver power of attorney over the vehicle’s behavior.
However, standard traction control, stability control, and torque vectoring do their best to keep your overenthusiasm in check, intervening at the appropriate time to prevent an accident or loss of control. If the system is like it is in other Mercedes performance cars, it’ll likely be mostly unobtrusive, only stepping in when you’ve really made a fool of yourself. 15.4-inch front and 13.6-inch rear brakes also do their part to rein in the power, with red-painted calipers with the AMG logo adding style to the safety.
Staggered 22-inch wheels are the first clue that the Mercedes-AMG is no standard GLE Coupe. From there, AMG buyers get the predictable oversize grille openings with a pretty floating Formula 1-inspired “A-wing,” a new front splitter, and interesting black-painted wheel flares. A new rear deck spoiler, diffuser, air outlets, and chrome-plated exhaust finishers round out the rear bodywork. Overall, the changes do little to either improve or hurt the appearance of the already-polarizing GLE Coupe. While many of us at Truck Trend like its rounded, hatchback greenhouse, the maxi-GLA “coupe” also inspires lots of derision at the hands of those who want more, ahem, utility from their sport-utility vehicles. One thing’s for sure: in either the standard GLE450 Coupe or the hot GLE63 Coupe, you’re not going to be blending in very well. This design stands out, for better or worse.
Inside, Mercedes-AMG passengers are treated to more deeply contoured sport seats trimmed in unique Nappa leather. The AMG crest is embossed into the headrests, which we think gives the interior a particularly rich feel. A performance steering wheel with the aforementioned aluminum shift paddles adds a dose of sport to the interior. A leather-wrapped instrument panel houses AMG-specific dials (with an optimistic 200-mph speedometer), and a 4.4-inch multifunction display between the gauges can be configured to display a variety of information.
Options on the GLE63 S are limited to a Bang & Olufsen surround-sound system, a performance exhaust, adaptive cruise control, Mercedes’ decadent interior air fragrance ionizer, and a handful of cosmetic touches. In other words, this GLE is loaded, coming standard with adaptive braking and collision mitigation, a surround-view camera, heated and ventilated front seats, and LED exterior lighting, among many other features.
We still think that in spite of its sporting credentials, the word “coupe” should probably be reserved for something a little lighter, a little more stylish, and a little more performance-oriented (to say nothing of limiting the word to cars with two doors), but the Mercedes-AMG GLE63 S is nevertheless an interesting prospect. With greater engine output than the 567hp BMW X6 M, 510hp Range Rover Sport Supercharged, and 470hp Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT, the GLE63 promises blistering on-road performance along with safe, all-weather grand touring abilities.
It also behooves one to remember that this GLE Coupe will spawn a more traditional GLE SUV variant to replace the Mercedes-Benz ML-Class sometime in the next year, and we’d be very surprised if the GLE “wagon” didn’t come in an AMG variant as well. Either way, AMG’s recent models have been doing a very good job of balancing striking performance with year-round comfort and convenience. If you like the way the GLE Coupe looks (our opinions are split), then it would be an excellent choice for those who can afford it.
Speaking of affordability, pricing has not been announced for either the GLE450 or the GLE63, but both should be available late summer 2015. We would expect the lesser GLE to lighten your purse by about $65,000, while the Bahn-stormer Mercedes-AMG should crest $100,000 pretty easily.