The Citizen (Gauteng)
Don’t let the numbers fool you
GLE 63 S v X5 M: LAUNCH CONTROL ONLY DIFFERENCE Match each other to such an extent it is impossible to choose one over the other.
Acouple of weeks ago Mercedes-AMG unleashed a barrage of SUVs with its sights fixed squarely on its great rival, BMW. The fastest 0 to 100km/h sprint time clocked by an SUV by The Citizen’s Road Test Editor Mark Jones was BMW’s X5 M Competition, which recorded 3.82sec in February this year.
With a claimed sprint time of 3.8sec, the best weapon to combat this in Affalterbach’s new artillery is the GLE 63 S, as direct a rival to the X5 M competition as you can wish for.
While the Coupe version of this model is deemed to be more dynamic through corners, the GLE 63 S in traditional SUV guise held a slight edge over its Coupe sibling in a straight line during the AMG launch at Gerotek’s facilities. While this observation is not based on mathematics, it was unanimously agreed that SUV is the preferred AMG candidate to challenge the X5 M Competition’s time.
With a claimed time of 3.8sec, exactly similar to the GLE 63 S Coupe, this dogfight had all the makings of a proper classic. Did it beat the X5 M Competition’s sprint time? The short answer is no, but as we’ll explain, this doesn’t mean the Merc is slower.
By “only” managing to reach 100km/h from a standstill in 4.06sec, the AMG lost out to the BMW by 0.24sec, which is probably fair to say is a bit of a hiding.
What the comparative times indicate is that the GLE is slower off the mark – more specifically over the first 40m – than the X5 and has to play catch up throughout. That it does ever so slightly and by the time its crosses the one kilometre mark, it has closed the gap on the
BMW to 0.14sec, which isn’t even half a car length. And after that
… well you would have to guess as we ran out of road.
In essence, our “drag race” was decided at the very start and for that there is an easy explanation. The GLE 63 S does not have proper launch control and the X5 M Competition does, which enables it to get away faster.
You can attempt a DIY launch and figure out the perfect time to release the GLE’s brake, but that is just not being mechanically sympathetic towards this magnificent machinery. You do not want to do that day in day out and neither do the Affalterbach engineers want you to, which probably explains the lack of launch control.
The GLE 63 S is powered by a 4.0-litre biturbo V8 engine which generates 450kW of power and 850Nm of torque. An integrated EQ Boost starter-alternator electric motor generates an extra 16kW of power and 250Nm of torque, temporarily upping total power output to 466kW/1 100Nm. This is sent via AMG Speedshift TCT 9G transmission to all four wheels through AMG Performance 4MATIC+ allwheel drive with fully variable torque distribution.
The powerful electric motor also supplies the 48-volt onboard electrical system to use as a power generator and perform hybrid functions.
Stopping power on the GLE 63 S is second to none. It features 400 x 38mm brake discs at the front and 370 x 32mm discs at the rear as standard with a high-performance ceramic brake system available as an optional extra.
It features 21-inch alloy rims as standard clad in 275/45 rubberware in the front and 315/40 at the rear, with optional 22-inch rims featuring 285/40 tyres in the front and 325/35 at the rear.
AMG Ride Control+ air suspension is standard, with the Adaptive Damping System offering three modes, Comfort, Sport and Sport. When going off the tarmac, the suspension can be raised by 55mm.
Inside the cabin, the GLE 63 S has a specification list too long to mention. Standard safety is top notch with the optional Drivers Assistance and Driver Assistance Plus packages including the most high-tech features in the automotive world today.
If you are wondering if we prefer the GLE 63 S or the X5 M Competition, we have to disappoint you. They match each other blow for blow in almost every department to such an extent it is impossible to favour one over the other. If the GLE could get off the line better there would have been even less to choose between the two as their times would probably have been inseparable. For those fortunate enough to splash around R3 million on an SUV, it will come down to personal preference. No matter which one the lucky bugger chooses, it will be a damn fine choice.