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HomeFEATUREDWe drive the merciless Mercedes-AMG GLE63 S Coupé

We drive the merciless Mercedes-AMG GLE63 S Coupé

Some say that it started life as a ‘nuclear popcorn machine’. Some say it turned down the lead role in the Transformers movie franchise to focus on a career in eating sports cars for breakfast. All we know is that it is the most potent Mercedes production crossover this side of the G-Class, and BERNIE HELLBERG recently took it for a spin.

If you are not entirely sure what a Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S Coupé is, allow me to assist. By telling you first, what it is not.

Despite receiving the GLE moniker, it isn’t a Mercedes SUV, at least not in the traditional mould. Instead, it is derived from the Mercedes-Benz GLE five-door SUV – the new name of what was Merc’s original luxury crossover utility, the M-Class – that has had its upright, boxy body replaced with a much sleeker looking coupe-like structure. Finally, by adding what is still the most powerful engine available in any Mercedes crossover, you have just created the GLE63 S Coupé.

COUPE DE GRACE

The Mercedes-AMG GLE63 S Coupé is a relatively recent entry into that curious subset of SUVs, the five-door coupés. And while some have come and gone already, the German brands seem most intent on keeping the segment going.
As with most things in our world these days, our office was very divided on the GLE Coupe. Comments ranged from it being “beautiful” to “not practical at all, what’s the point of it?”.
And that, folks, is the R2,245,612 question…

If the point of the GLE63 S Coupé is to make a statement, it has most definitely succeeded; aided by the aggressive nature of the added AMG elements, like its 22” alloy wheels.

Also, if the point was to make a clone of its rivals in the segment, most notable being the BMW X6, it’s ‘mission accomplished’ on that front too. Right down to the tramlining phenomenon that occurs courtesy of the massive tekkies it wears – 285/40 in the front and 325/35 at the rear.

The GLC represents almost every Mercedes design principle; from the elegant front end design reminiscent of the brand’s classic saloons, to the high ground clearance and rugged fender flares of a typical SUV, to the minimal greenhouse and sweeping roofline of their sportiest coupés. Mercedes’ signatures are all present, but somehow it remains less appealing than the sum of its parts should add up to.

Not to say that it’s not imposing, it is one of the meanest looking machines on the road, but like a Sir Mix-a-Lot music video, there’s just a bit much going on…

USE IT; DON’T USE IT

In this ‘looks are everything world’ there indeed is a market for the likes of the GLE Coupé. Although it is less practical than its standard GLE SUV sibling, they are being snapped up locally and globally, proving that some are willing to sacrifice practicality for being noticed.

To be fair, it is also clearly designed more for on-road performance, as its suspension is unique; and the standard 4MATIC all-wheel-drive system doesn’t come with off-road settings.
A further indication is the powertrain situation.

As are all AMG-tuned Mercedes cars, this one is a powerhouse of epic proportions. The 63 S boasts 430 kW of power and 760 Nm of torque from a hand-assembled 5.5-litre twin-turbo V8. That’s 20 kW more than its SUV brother and 220 kW more than the next nearest GLE Coupé available here: the GLE43 Coupé. Transmission comes courtesy of AMG’s SPEEDSHIFT seven-speed auto.

DRIVE IT LIKE YOU MEAN IT

From the first drive in the GLE63 S, it soon became clear, nay, from the first flooring of the throttle, that the launch of this GLE 63 S alone is worth the asking price. Without even a hint of decorum, the engine dumps a mass of torque onto the wheels, and the AMG-tuned 4MATIC system quickly sends it where it is most needed.

Propelling off the line with urgency seems to be what this car does best, hitting 100 km/h in just 4.2 seconds. From there everything becomes a blur. Instinctively you hold on tight as the rapid-fire automatic sends the rev needle scanning for the next gear with chronographic precision, and with AMG-signature crackles from the exhaust you are soon moving at an almost illegal pace…

Thankfully, with stops of under 40 meters from 100 km/h, the brakes on this monster are the real deal.

IT’S A TRUE MERCEDES INSIDE

Whether you’re firing off on a full-scale getaway, or just doing the daily commute; there’s plenty of comfort and luxury inside the GLE’s cabin to keep you happy.

Although AMG sports seats and steering wheel, as well as the carbon-fibre trim, add a sporty aura to the cabin, we suggest that you opt for the premium sound system, and you’ll be awash in 900-watts of audio power as well.
Really, the only thing sacrificed in the GLE Coupé cabin is cargo capacity. Where the GLE SUV can carry 690-2010 litres, the Coupé only has room for 650-1720 litres. It is also a little low on headroom in the rear.

LAST WORD

If you identify with a style over substance view of life, the GLE63 S Coupé is most definitely for you. Not for the faint of heart or wallet, but it is a mega-powerful tribute to automotive success, that is not only a showcase for the Mercedes-AMG brand but is also a whole heap of fun.

 

Report by BERNIE HELLBERG | Images © MERCEDES-BENZ SOUTH AFRICA

 

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