GLE 63 S
BEST TESTS ’22: Quarter-Price AMG Will Humble Ferrari’s Truck

It’s been an interesting motoring week. Ferrari unleashed it’s all-new Purosangue SUV. And begged us not to call it a truck. But it is. Maranello promises it will do 100 km/h in 3.3 seconds. Which is quite something for what will surely be north of R12-million. Especially when we went just tenths slower testing this Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S Coupé, which also just happened to come our way this week.

GLE 63 S

Forget the Sink. GLE 63 S Has The Whole Kitchen!

Unlike Maranello, its Stuttgart F1 rival is not scared to call its quarter price AMG GLE 63 S Coupé a SUV. Because like the Italian car, it is. Packing AMG’s mad 450 kW (that’s 600 horsepower) 850 Nm and never mind the sink, it quite literally has the whole hotel kitchen in there, Best of all however, this Merc stopped our VBox clocks at 3.6 seconds to 100 km/h.

Like the bullet out of a gun, GLE 63 S is blasted along by its AMG handcrafted 450 kW 850 Nm 4-litre biturbo V8 aided and abetted by a 16 kW 250 Nm integrated EQ Boost starter-alternator. It packs four-cylinder deactivation to help save fuel, when it purrs like lion. Turning all four wheels through its AMG fiddled 4Matic all-wheel drive, its feisty 9-speed automatic also comes under that AMG spell.

A monster in every way, this SUV coupé doesn’t just blast to 100 km/h in as good as 3.6 seconds, but it can also run 280 km/h. With our specimen’s optional AMG Driver’s package. All while wrapping you in the absolute lap of supreme luxury. You’d better believe it. That’s what the Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 Coupé 4Matic is all about.

GLE 63 S

Monstrous Acceleration, an Animal Roar

Monstrous in acceleration, that lion’s purr becomes an animal roar when teased. Spine chilling and quite mesmerizing, it stuffs you back in the seat. Can it possibly weigh two and a half tons? The 9-speed gearbox is equally ruthless, yet super smooth as it always finds the right gear for your immediate situation.

Packing AMG Ride Control+ pneumatic self-levelling air suspension with a special spring and damper set-up and Adaptive Damping Plus, GLE 63 S makes huge strides in ride and handling. Active Engine Mounts bring outstanding driving dynamics without compromising comfort. There’s a soft setting for cruising and stiffer one for racy driving. Active Roll Stabilization makes it even more dynamic and ride height control keeps it on an even keel, no matter what the load.

Handling and road holding instil supreme trust. GLE 63 S is precise and shockingly exact for the behemoth it is. Those huge Michelin Pilot Sport 4s take everything you throw at them with absolute aplomb. It maintains a neutral tack and there’s no over, or understeer. All that said, it does tend to lurch a little when really asked on a decent strip of winding tarmac. The rigours of the ride heights it needs to be called an SUV. Never mind its heft.


GLE 63 S Brakes Better than it Accelerates

Braking is immense. Mammoth 400 by 38 mm thick vented and perforated integral front and 370 by 32 mm rear clamps retard it more impressively than GLE 63 S accelerates. It’s big, but this car is solid, nimble, and finely balanced to drive. Overall poise is way beyond what you’d expect from a vehicle this size, no matter what the road surface, it handles anything from smooth highways to rutted, pot-hole infested stretches with aplomb.

The GLE 63 has six driving modes from Comfort to Sport Plus and even Trail and Sand. Even if the latter are redundant. It also packs a raft driver assistance gadgets, of which latest spec route based Live Traffic Distronic speed adjustable Active Distance Assist is actually a hoot to use.

Getting back to the more mundane stuff, imposing is not the word. Dramatically enhanced by those monster wheels, this tortoise on stilts cuts through the wind in elegant record aerodynamic form. GLE is also longer, wider, and lower and has a longer wheelbase than before, for a bigger, more spacious, and comfier cabin.

GLE 63 S

Chopped Behind Makes Little difference

Being a chopped off station wagon makes little difference. The Coupé trunk is still cavernous enough. It has a handy 3,500 kg braked towing and luggage capacity that grows cavernous with the 40:20:40 split second row seat stowed. One Coupé shortfall is a lower door head. It impinges on access and egress for bigger, older people like me. Which is probably the lion’s share of this car’s target market. Smaller types need not be so concerned.

Once aboard, you’re in the lap of luxury. Benz’s crisp, cavernous cabin steals the show in spacious, sensual AMG Nappa leather style. It’s dominated by that splendid widescreen Starship Enterprise ‘Hey Mercedes’ MBUX artificial intelligence infotainment cockpit. We like Merc’s steering controlled infotainment best. A tiny touch pad on each stalk runs everything. Infotainment the left, while the right controls the dash. It may have been superseded, but we prefer this solution.

It’s not cheap at over R3.2-million. And it devours over 12 litres of premium for every sane 100 kilometres, on average. There are cheaper, more normal, and more frugal GLE Coupés too, if you’re not quite up to this one’s Vader appeal. Overall however, if you’re looking for a premium super SUV, this thing screams it. And GLE 63 S Coupé flies that three pointed star and its AMG stripes with great aplomb.


Is GLE 63 S King of the Road?

It would be a big deal to call any car the King of the Road. That’s a risqué call to make all by itself. But if ever a car had all the elements that you’d need to call it that, then this Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S pretty well fits the bill. Superbly built, supremely comfortable and stupidly fast, it’s also safe as houses, great to look at and splendid to drive, whatever the conditions.

And at a quarter of the price of some new-fangled rivals that cannot go much more than a couple of tenths faster to 100, it’s all of a sudden, a bargain too. Even if it’s that side of three million, in your driveway… — Michele Lupini

ROAD TESTED: Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S Coupé
Engine: 450 kW 850 Nm 4-litre biturbo petrol V8
Drive: 9-speed Automatic AWD
0-60 km/h:        1.75 sec
0-100 km/h:       3.69 sec
0-160 km/h:       5.10 sec
400m:             11.9 sec @ 188 km/h
80-120 km/h:      2.44 sec
120-160 km/h:     3.48 sec
VMax:             280 km/h
Fuel:             12.6 l/100 km
CO2:              286 g/km
Warranty/Service: 2y Unl./5y 100K km
LIST PRICE:       R3.285M
RATED:            9
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