Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S
It would seem there’s an AMG 63 model now for just about every Mercedes model line from the C-Class upwards. That applies to the SUVs as well, and here you see the top GLE-Class offering, the AMG GLE 63 S. In black. Lots of black, in fact black on black because it features just one option, the Night Package. As a Mercedes spokesperson said, “We just couldn’t resist it”. The night package adds blackened wheels, blackout tinted window from the B pillar back, and items like aprons, mirror caps, roof rails and the like also in black. Sinister is how you might describe it.
Rapid too, as you’d expect of any AMG 63. It used to be that big powerful SUVs were considered benchmark fast if they could run from standstill to open road speed in under five seconds. Nowadays, with many running biturbo set-ups and quick shifting autos packing upwards of nine cogs (just the seven here though), they’re now cracking into three-second territory, and the Cayenne Turbo S has done exactly that, recently setting a benchmark of 3.89sec. However, you pay over $300k for the privilege, whereas the AMG GLE 63 S, rated at 4.2sec for the same parameter, lists at $100k less ($205,900). It almost met its mark too, achieving a best of 4.33sec on chipseal. That’s all without the advantage of launch control too. Given it also uses a conventional seven-speed automatic, that’s quite an achievement. It’s only 0.08sec slower on the overtake than the Porsche, which is also quite something.
Like all AMGs the 430kW biturbo V8 erupts into life rather than just starting, thanks to the standard fit performance exhaust system, terminating in a quartet of blackened tailpipes, naturally. On the cruise, you get the impression you can hear each of the compression strokes of the big V8, such is its ability to lope along seemingly just above idle at highway speeds. Mercedes suggests a lab rating of 11.8L/100km overall but that’s in some fairyland where 70km/h is the open road limit. Good luck at achieving anything lower than 15L/100km in the real
world; you’ll be holding up lines of traffic doing so. That said, on cruise control 16s or 17s is possible, depending on how much gear you have on board. Performance testing and the like, expect high 20s.
Mention of cruise control, it’s of the active variety and was a real boon when heading out into the big southern carpark (a.k.a. Auckland’s Southern Motorway) of a Friday evening rush hour. Set it to 100km/h and it controls speed and distance to the vehicle in front, right down to a dead stop where it promptly shuts down. Minutes later (by which time I’d been able to sync my phone to the GLE’s Bluetooth system) and the traffic starts moving again, simply brushing the gas pedal reignites the engine and active cruise once more takes over. Brilliant. Even if the 90min grind to the Bombays wasn’t.
The GLE may tote new nomenclature but beneath it’s essentially running the former ML’s architecture, reinvented. The AMG underpinnings include air suspension with adaptive damping, and Mercedes’ Active Curve System comprising active stabiliser bars that stiffen in corners to keep the big hauler (rated to tow 3.5 tonnes braked) on an even keel. Unlike some of its competitors there’s not the active torque shuffling front to rear (it’s fixed 40/60) or side to side, but for something this big and tall, it can still scoot through corners, dynamics enhanced by 295/35ZR21 Pirelli PZeros, no less. The top Sport+ setting of the Dynamic Select handling system amps everything to optimise cornering and straight line speed. Without the torque shuffling devices and with 55 per cent of weight over the front axle it ultimately pushes towards the grass verge, and lift-off can occasionally make it loll into oversteer. Mainly though it makes a competent comfortable point-to-point mover, with generous seats and luggage capacity for five. On your own you’d use the Sport and Comfort modes mainly, whereas with others aboard the Comfort mode ensures a smooth ride without cornering ability losing out. We’d imagine that most owners wouldn’t shift it out of that mode ever, after an initial fiddle with the sportier settings.
And there’s plenty to fiddle with here, the multicontour sports seats doing everything except talking to front seat occupants. There’s heating and ventilation, memory settings, four types of massage on the go, you name it. My high-res MP3 player interfaced well with the Comand system too, firing up instantly after initial hook up. Same with the phone. The HK sound system is great, but if you just must have the best there’s a 1200wpc Bang and Olufson set-up available for $9500. Most of the rest of the options list comes as standard in the AMG variant, including virtually all active safety systems. Items like the electrically extendable trailer coupling and rear seat entertainment system are cost options.
Primary competitors include the more expensive and not-so-fast Range Rover Sport SVR, and the X5 M, similarly quick for similar money.
We’d imagine that most owners wouldn’t shift it out of comfort mode, after an initial fiddle with the Sportier