Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S 4Matic+ review: Back to ballistics

Monster energy is alive and well within AMG. Yes, yes, electric this and that, AMG’s latest SUV is a stark reminder that it’s so satisfying to fire up a V8, mash the accelerator and charge down the road with a thunderous roar of energy, a a hearty yes-ha and an old-fashioned horsepower (intentionally stated to avoid the use of the electrically ambiguous term kilowatt)… all responsible of course.

Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S.
AMG power units are still built according to the ‘one engine, one person’ principle.

Those who aren’t car enthusiasts will scoff and scorn, but we’ve been talking a lot about EVs lately, including Mercedes’ own EQ products. This isn’t that.

The Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S 4Matic+, as its full title reads, is a roaring antidote to electric vehicles and excess, available for a retail price of more than a quarter of a million dollars and without apologies.

All AMG ingredients are present, such as the one-man-one-engine principle. The engine of our test vehicle was built… sorry, handmade, by Benjamin Reuth-Scharein, as the picture says: a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 petrol engine with an output of 450 kW and 850 Nm. That’s a lot! And despite being a fraction lower than AMG’s first electric car, the EQS 53 S (with 10 kW and 100 Nm), we would happily take the V8 (almost) every day.

Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S.
Seriously fast, and not just for a large SUV: 0-100 km/h in 3.9 seconds.

This is back to AMG’s basics, done ballistically: the acceleration is simply great, the sprint to 100 takes just 3.9 seconds, according to the claim. We tested it once and a 3.8 came up. Glorious.

The Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S is a roaring antidote to electric vehicles and excess.

But it’s the theater that is the drug, the roaring V8, the turbos spinning and whistling, and the kids in the backseat laughing extra wide from both fun and G-forces and the sound that envelops the occupants.

Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S.
There’s a lot going on here, but mild hybrid technology helps keep thirst at bay.

What’s more, it’s not a fuel-guzzling behemoth either. OK, it’s not a Prius, but it’s an AMG and that brings a certain level of expectation: Merc claims 13.0L/100km, using things like cylinder deactivation to optimize every drop. Impressively, we achieved around 13.3L/100km in the city and mid-12s on the highway. It’s also the mild hybrid system that an owner wouldn’t normally be aware of if it weren’t for the little “power-charge” bar graph indicator in the corner of the dash. That’s all I need to know that it does anything, and that’s all we need to say about it.

All the technology and safety that a quarter-million-dollar luxury SUV offers… and how can we forget the off-road mode?

Selecting the AMG racing mode via the dial on the steering wheel, combined with full throttle, will of course increase that number – and the fun too.

Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S.
Mercedes-Benz interiors are flashy, but AMGs add something more.

The top-spec AMG GLE also gets a whole host of ride-along extras that make the package oh-so-great: things like an ‘Energizing Package’ that offers presets for seat massage, heating and music to set the mood and tone. ..or change it. Heated cupholders, power-closing doors, heated windshield washers, plus AMG Active Ride Control that really takes the ride and handling package to a higher level than Mercedes’ more luxurious grades, all while riding on 22-inch wheels with center locknut.

This large five-seat SUV offers almost everything in one package.

There’s an awkward limited-slip differential at the rear, which is probably more show-off/boring than something actively and knowingly used, while this is all on top of the equipment bestowed on the GLE 300, 450 and AMD GLE 53 models, including things like the AMG body, selectable AMG exhaust system (again via a dial), MBUX augmented reality, head-up display, ambient lighting, a huge panoramic sunroof that slides open (not always obvious), and all the technology and safety offered by a quarter-million-dollar luxury SUV… and how could we forget the off-road mode, with automatic and manually adjustable suspension.

Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S.
It’s a powerful machine, but also a really practical one.

It’s clear that the Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S 4Matic+ has a lot more to offer besides its letter name, and that’s what makes it such a complete package. With a large, power trunk with tailgate, the large five-seat SUV offers almost everything in one package. Ideal for cruising around town, going on grand tours and entertaining the kids, via the drive or two USB-C ports and separate rear climate control, it offers ultimate comfort and individualisation, making it one of the ultimate luxury SUVs on the market. sale.

That it is covered in a top layer of absolutely crushing performance puts it on a completely different level, with economy that is disproportionately better than a decadent car like this should be: the usability of the cabin is high and needs only a little getting used to . retaining a range of actual buttons to manage commonly used functions such as climate control, volume and choosing different driving modes. The large screens, which you can operate by touching them, or via the remote control near the shifter, which is easily to hand, are a good reminder that not everything has to be controlled via a touchscreen. But if all else fails, there’s the ‘Hey Mercedes’ voice control that controls things like radio stations, climate control, heated seats and even massages. I’ve talked to this car almost more than any other car.

Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S.
GLE 63 S proves that there is still life in the petrol V8.

For balance we must also mention the bad points – after all, this is not a Mercedes advertisement: but during our seven days and 1000 km it was not easy to find fault: the gearbox can be a bit abrupt when starting off: there is a little dead spot, so if you squeeze it a little more it comes to life with a rush and sometimes a thump. We probably blame the engine’s start-stop mode, which can be easily deactivated with the button conveniently placed next to the start button. And the 12.3-metre turning circle is on the large side, making three-point turns for typical school drops a bit tricky – which also highlights the shifter’s slow response between forward and reverse: you have to shift slowly to shift quickly.

Like we said, small niggles are hardly worth mentioning.

For the few who will be able to call this their own, we are very impressed and a little jealous. The AMG GLE 63 (to use its abbreviated title) is a throwback to pre-Covid times, when we still loved V8s, sound and buttons.

ENGINE: 4.0 twin-turbo V8 petrol CURRENT: 450 kW/850 Nm GEAR BOX: 9-speed automatic ECONOMY: 13.0 l/100 km 0-100 km/h: 3.9 sec PRICE: $254,900.