If you're one of those folks who looked at the BMW X6 M Competition or Audi RS Q8 and though to yourself, "great, but I want it as a Mercedes," then you're in luck, because Mercedes-Benz is about to improve on the GLE 53 with a full-strength AMG model, powered by its signature 4.0-liter, twin-turbo V8.
This engine will arrive in the GLE 63 S—new for the 2021 model year—with 603 horsepower and 627 pound-feet of torque. Combined with a 48-volt "EQ Boost" mild-hybrid system, which can infuse an extra 21 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque, the sizable GLE 63 S can catapult itself from standstill to 60 mph in just 3.7 seconds; a time on par with the GLE 63's immediate rival the BMW X6 M Competition.
While the Mercedes' top speed falls short of the BMW's at 174 mph versus 177, its nine-speed automatic offers it more ratios than the already well-equipped Bimmer's eight. This transmission can combine with the hybrid system and cylinder deactivation to give the GLE 63 the economy of a smaller vehicle, and its AMG-tuned active air suspension, roll control, and four-wheel steer, the handling thereof.
Said air suspension system maintains ride height regardless of vehicle load, and pre-selects varying ground clearances depending on drive mode. Comfort adjusts height variably with vehicle speed, Sand and Trail make the GLE stand on its tippy-toes, and Race hunkers the GLE down in pursuit of the lowest possible center of gravity. It'd seem silly to take such a vehicle like this onto a track, but the GLE 63 wouldn't be out of its depth there. Performance all-wheel-drive and a locking rear differential make those 603 horsepower manageable, and huge six-piston front brakes—hidden inside 22-inch wheels—will keep the GLE out of the runoff area.
Track visits are best made alone, though, as you don't want occupants getting carsick on the GLE 63's Nappa leather seats, MBUX-powered entertainment goodies, or carbon fiber trim elements. Then again, its mood lighting might be able to produce a hue capable of suppressing nausea or fear, in addition to what it does for the GLE's sharp interior design. While similar can't be said for the GLE's silhouette, which is that of a lifted, drooping E-class, details like the AMG GT-esque grille prevent things from getting tragic. Better yet, make like The Rolling Stones would and Paint It Black with the AMG Night Package, which blacks out most exterior trim.
The 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S hits dealers in the States this fall.
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