The level of competition in the luxury SUV segment is unparalleled even more so when you peer to the absolute top of the segment chain. The Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S is now firmly nudging the super-SUV segment. When 2.3-ton SUVs can outdrag the 4.0-second mark in the 0 – 100kph dash, we’re no longer describing a SUV with a little sporty bias are we?
In the hierarchy of the segment, the updated Mercedes-AMG GLE63 S design is casually understated flexing its intent only by way of the signature AMG grille, red AMG brake callipers, 21-inch alloys and of course, the unmistakeable blacked out trapezoidal quad-exhausts that emerge from the rear apron.
The GLE 63 S remains the family-friendly SUV with 630-litres of luggage space and an abundance of comfort, tech and driver intelligence features. Advanced driving assistance systems integrate with the plethora of control systems that make up the MBUX system. The system is fast, and beautifully presented via a duo of 10,25-inch screens. These are controllable via the touch pads on the wheel or the buttons and track pad on the console. This operating system and UX really is one of the best in-car systems by our standards. Of course, in AMG-guise there’s additional RACE menus and functions for the most rapid and focused driving dynamics while off-road shenanigans are made easier with height adjustable suspension and off-road driving modes. It must be mentioned that the GLE retains the ‘older’ multi-function steering touch pads. These are easier to operate than the latest Benz touch hardware that you can find on newer model Benz cars such as the new E, S or even the C-Class.
Within this space, the options list is vast. You can build to your taste's content. Red Pepper or Truffle brown leather on your multi-contour, massaging seats? It can be done. Electrically operated rear seats with heating and cooling, it can be done. Carbon Fibre or Woodgrain trim? Done. Even your rear seat entertainment can be taken care of replete with Bluetooth headsets et al. This is the level of luxury purchasing where tailored cars are very much an expectation and the Benz has the options to match. Perhaps not on par with slightly loftier cars of which there aren't too many, so the GLE 63 S should do nicely.
In this updated GLE 63 S, Mercedes has integrated a mild-hybrid EQ Boost system to the mesmeric 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8. To pander to new emissions and sound regulations, Affalterbach has curtailed the AMG-burble we’ve come to know and love. It has made the GLE 63 S more efficient but you won’t be enjoying those melodramatic cold starts any longer. Instead, the GLE comes to life in a strangely silent awakening, only reminding you of its intent when you ask the loud pedal but even then, the AMG tune has been quelled in some respect, sounding more artificial than it has in previous generations.
It’s not just efficiency though, the EQ Boost also assists in low-down grunt. Accelerative performance remains mind-bending. 0 – 100 km/h in anything under 4-seconds is crazy. Heading towards that 250 km/h mark is equally crazy – 450 kW of power is intoxicating even in a large SUV. The GLE 63 S here is fitted with 21-inch, 5-spoke alloys on 275/45 rubber. The profile combined with the adaptive air suspension allow the GLE the multi-purpose luxury of being able to glide comfortably on bumpy tarmac or slippery gravel, yet also exhibit a dynamic ability that would be expected at this level. It certainly rides more comfortably than say, a BMW X5 Comp and that really is the nature of this AMG’d GLE – it plays in a space more suited to a wider breadth of use than trying to be the outright trackday tool. Mercedes-AMG hasn’t played to one mindset and there’s no mention of a German race track record. Instead, it’s the better all-rounder among the Germans. An RS Q8 is certainly more dynamically capable but in a straight out drag, this AMG will be right very very close.
Much like its direct rivals too, you can spec your GLE 63 S with much in the way of comfort and assistance features. There is a litany of options here – from heat insulated rear glass, semi-autonomous driving assistance, heated and ventilated seats fore and aft, Heads-Up Display, rear seat entertainment and even higher end audio components. You can literally endow the flagship GLE with S-Class levels of technology. This will see the price tag run well into the R3-Million mark which is bitter but competitively close to its direct rivals.
The AMG brand continues to offer immense bang-for-a-lot-of-bucks. The GLE 63 S is no different except that it seems to have sauntered over to a camp where the tenets of usability, practicality, purpose and comfort are still higher up the list than its competitors.
It is the super-SUV with more sense than others and it comes with a plethora of ownership ticks that should warrant trust and satisfaction from its owners.
The Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S is a lot of car for a lot of money. Its appeal is in the fact that it remains a resolutely luxurious, comfortable, technologically advanced tour de force – that just so happens to have a mesmerising AMG performance powertrain under the skin. It remains the most comfortable and usable of its direct rivals, not as fast as some and not as grippy as some but it’s arguably the most sensible.