The Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 Is A Turbocharged Muscle Truck Terror
Mercedes-AMG makes some of the most brutal twin-turbo V8 vehicles in the world, ranging from the exotic Mercedes-AMG GT supercar to the C63 sport sedan. Would it surprise you to learn that more than 50 percent of the factory hot rods that leave the AMG factory are actually SUVs?
The 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S Coupe is the perfect representation of the unusual direction that the luxury performance market has swung over the past decade. Certainly not a sedan, and not quite a true sport-utility, this sloped-roof tank weighs well over two tons and yet still smokes the vast majority of sports cars on the road thanks to its over-achieving AMG V8 biturbo setup that shuttles gobs of torque to the asphalt through an advanced four-wheel drive system.
Does it look a little weird? You bet. Does it terrify you with torque as soon as you stomp the gas pedal? Definitely.
Do you want one? Well, that depends…
Loudmouth Under The Hood
There are two overriding aspects to the Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S Coupe's personality. The first is its V8 biturbo drivetrain, a new 4.0L unit that's been tuned to provide 603hp and 627 lb-ft of torque, and which is managed by a nine-speed automatic transmission. Fresh from a tour of duty in several other AMG products, the hand-assembled motor is a true terror with the hammer down, accelerating the Mercedes-AMG truck to 60 mph in less than 3.5 seconds, all the way up to a sub-12 second quarter mile.
Those are absolutely astounding numbers, made even more improbable by the fact that the GLE 63 S Coupe weighs nearly 5,000 lbs. That much mass shouldn't be able to launch itself with such a casual disregard for the laws of traction and momentum, and yet the AMG achieves the impossible, repeatedly. Lending a helping hand is something Mercedes-Benz calls the 'EQ Boost' system, a 48-volt hybrid setup that makes for ultra-smooth engine on/off when sitting at a light, but that also kicks in up to 184 lb-ft of additional torque that can be accessed in the split second before the biturbos spool up.
The AMG truck's second defining characteristic is a little more controversial. Seen from the front, the GLE 63 S Coupe is the spitting image of its standard GLE SUV cousin, but shift that angle to the side, or the rear, and it’s impossible to deny the awkward proportions forced by the vehicle's swooping roofline. With its pinched-at-the-waist shape, the GLE Coupe trades practicality for, well, it's hard to say really.
There's less room for rear passengers and certainly a tighter squeeze when hauling cargo that extends all the way to the tailgate, and the response from passersby alternated between those who were smitten by the AMG and others who signaled a hard pass on its less-than-sleek appearance.
And yet, Mercedes-AMG does a brisk business selling this version of the GLE, as does BMW with its X6 and X4 'crossover coupes' that feature a similar back-drive aft of the passenger compartment. Personal taste plays a role here, but so does the AMG SUV's massive size, which makes it impossible to ignore any aspect of its styling that may come across as unappealing.
The Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S Coupe's big-boned platform also informs how it drives. AMG engineers have worked considerable magic with the vehicle's four-wheel drive system, electronic driver's aides, adjustable suspension, and limited-slip differential to try and dial out as much of the vehicle's mass as possible while also taming its top-heavy center of gravity through the corners.
For the most part they've been successful, especially if your definition of a fun drive is one that prioritizes flat, sticky handling facilitated by massive wheels and tires. There's no question that the AMG truck is a stable machine when working out, but it's also one that's almost entirely devoid of feedback. The entire experience behind the wheel is filtered through a long list of drive modes that rely on the biturbo V8's thunderous exhaust to evoke an emotional response, rather than facilitate more direct a connection between pilot and performance.
It's hard to recommend the 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S Coupe in a world where its much more useful sibling—the GLE 63 S—exists. Featuring the same power and identical handling in a package that will swallow passengers and cargo with considerably more capacity, you'd have to be smitten with the Coupe's styling to select it.
You'd also have to be ok with the price. Starting at $116,000 (Roughly $3K more than the GLE 63 S), and escalating easily with options you'll likely want to add to your build, the GLE 63 S Coupe costs nearly $40,000 more than the next-quickest option, the 429hp, turbocharged six-cylinder AMG 53 4MATIC.
Is that worth it to squash nearly anything that might pull up beside you at the stoplight, while still delivering a top-shelf (if a bit bouncy) luxury ride and extra (although not 'most extra'), cargo space compared to a true coupe or a sport sedan? After sampling the intoxicating rumble of the AMG's V8, there will definitely be more than a few buyers answering in the affirmative.