Shy and retiring types need not apply. The Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S Coupé is not a car for those who put discretion and subtlety high on their list of priorities when looking for a new car. Almost everything about this SUV coupé reeks of vulgarity and excess.
At first glance the SUV coupé looks like the answer to a question nobody asked. But then the Germans have a knack of inventing new niches and watching as buyers flock into showrooms for a closer look. BMW pioneered the SUV coupé in 2008 and began writing an unlikely success story. The new GLE sees Stuttgart playing catch-up with Munich.
You can hardly blame Mercedes-Benz for launching this car. Over 300,000 people have purchased BMW’s cosmetically-challenged X6 – proof the Bavarians know their market. And where better than BMW’s backyard to test the response from Mercedes?
Pay attention, now: the Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S Coupé is to the GLE Coupé what the X6 M is to the X6 Coupé. It’s the full-bore, full-fat, in-yer-face edition, fettled by the mothership’s motorsport division. At £96,555, it’s far and away the most expensive GLE Coupé you can buy, but then it does pack an almighty punch. Power is sourced from a 5.5-litre V8 twin-turbocharged engine, providing 585hp.
Once you’ve come to terms with the love-it-or-hate-it styling (we expect most people will hate it, but buyers won’t give a damn what you think), you turn the weighty key (keyless start is optional) to fire up the V8. The resulting noise is part Thor, part Stuttgart Symphony Orchestra. But it’s 100 per cent AMG and all the better for it
Seriously, there are few better soundtracks than that of an AMG V8 and it gives the GLE Coupé a real party trick. Switch to Sport+ mode and the noise becomes other-worldly, while playing tunes with the exhaust pop-pops on the overrun is highly addictive.
Predictably, it’s rather rapid. The 0-62mph dash is over in a mere 4.2 seconds and it’ll reach a top speed of 155mph. Ask the AMG people nicely and they’ll remove the limiter, giving the 63 S Coupé a top speed of 174mph. You’ll have to cross their palms with £1,195, mind. Curiously, it never feels that quick. The acceleration is smooth and predictable, but the sheer weight of the thing (2.3 tonnes) and near total insulation from the outside world does tend to blunt the feeling of speed.
It’s not all that great in the corners. Even with an arsenal of AMG wizardry, including ride control, active curve system and sports direct-steer, the big Mercedes has a tendency to run wide through the bends and there’s more than a hint of body roll.
There are a few issues with the ride quality, too. In Comfort mode, the air suspension provides a cosseting and supremely relaxing ride, yet things change when you switch into Sport, at which point the ride becomes unsettled and fidgety. Mercedes-Benz will try to convince you that this is an agile sports coupé, but it’s just too big and heavy to live up to that promise.
Once you come to terms with this, the GLE begins to make more sense. The interior is a masterclass in fit and finish, dominated by the wonderful sports seats and excellent infotainment system. You need to give serious thought to ticking the box marked Bang & Olufsen BeoSound AMG sound system. At £3,925, it isn’t cheap, but the sound quality is so good it almost rivals the noise coming out of the tailpipes. There’s also a surprising amount of headroom and legroom in the back, although the rear-end styling has resulted in a ridiculously high loading lip in the boot. Rearward visibility is atrocious.
It would easy to hate a car like this, but spend some time behind the wheel and you’ll begin to appreciate its effortless pace, supreme levels of comfort and smooth seven-speed automatic transmission. Having said that, when it comes down to it, I’d rather spend my hard-earned dollar on the much cheaper and more socially acceptable AMG E-Class Estate.
Gavin Braithwaite-Smith works for motoringresearch.com
THE FACTS: MERCEDES-AMG GLE 63 S COUPÉ
0-62MPH: 4.2 secs
TOP SPEED: 155mph
CO2 G/KM: 278g/km
MPG COMBINED: 23.7mpg
VALUE FOR MONEY ★★☆☆☆