We reckon it's safe to say that the sportscar has its days numbered. Don’t get us wrong, it has had a mighty good run, but with time comes change and trends tend to be heartless when it comes to sentiment. Even so, buyers are putting money where their mouth is and they’re picking super SUVs like the 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLE 53, GLE 63 S and GLS 63 that Mercedes introduced in Mzansi earlier this week.
With roughly 50% of local sales attributed to SUVs, it's clear AMG is no stranger to this category, which is something that product planners and engineers alike certainly have not been slow to take advantage of. What you get with these new additions is a pair of SUVs sure to challenge the law of physics once you let them loose on the road. And to be honest, with the sheer size, weight and shape of both the GLE 63 S and GLS 63, they aren’t obvious contenders for AMG’s performance touch. To make that hurling performance possible, they need special underpinnings.
A 4.0-litre V8 biturbo engine equipped with an integrated EQ Boost starter-alternator, to be specific. This engine delivers 450 kW and 850 Nm to all 4 wheels, with a 9-speed automatic transmission while the EQ Boost avails a brief additional 16 kW of output and 250 Nm of torque. Top speed is electronically limited to 250 km/h, although 280 km/h is possible with the optional AMG Driver’s package. This means the GLS 63 is able to reach 0-100 km/h in 4.2 seconds, while the smaller and lighter GLE 63 S does the sprint in just 3.8 seconds.
If, like me, you are worried about how this much power might cause the twin SUVs to spin the earth underneath them to contra-rotate, rest assured as AMG 4MATIC+ all-wheel drive and active-roll management is standard. According to Mercedes, the V8 engine is attached via electronically controlled mounts which can adjust their stiffness according to the current drive mode.
All of this results in an SUV ride that is as plush, nimble and luxurious as a Tempur mattress. In comfort mode the air suspension allows you to waft lavishly. Dial up the dynamic driving mode switch to Sport or Sport+ and the car becomes a completely different monster. It is basically engineering witchcraft, and it may very well charm all but the most resolutely sceptical of performance SUVs. I will not deny that a traditional sports coupe or convertible will out-twist either the GLE 63 S or the GLS 63 on a winding road.
Meanwhile, the GLE 53 4MATIC+ sports a 320kW and 520Nm 3.0-litre six-cylinder in-line engine, which is good for a 5.3 second 0-100km/h sprint, thanks to fully variable all-wheel drive and an agile 9-speed automatic transmission. Similar to the GLE 63, it also comes paired with a 48V onboard electrical system.
Up front on all these models there’s MBUX, Mercedes’ infotainment system, it looks superb on the dashboard, spanning the dual displays. Controls feel crisp and solid; everything that can be is motorized, making it easy for you to navigate settings for each feature or systems.
The 2021 AMG GLS 63 is priced at R3 154 000 if seven seats are a must, while the 2021 AMG GLE 63 S is even more affordable at R2 885 000 and R2 948 000 for the coupe, though you should budget a little extra for the glorious 23-inch Monoblock rims. Meanwhile, the GLE 53 will set you back R1 837 000 and R1 925 000 for the coupe.
Words: Papi Mabele