If ever there was such a thing as a niche market, the super-SUV is perhaps one of the best examples. Extracting huge amounts of performance from such a large beast is one thing, making it adept at going round corners is quite another. It’s all a bit bonkers, really.
It’s probably this insanity which appeals to buyers though, and car makers are more than happy to cater for them. Porsche offers the Cayenne, BMW the X5M and X6M, and now Mercedes-AMG is getting in on the act, with both the GLE 63 and GLE 63 Coupe.
To compare Mercedes’ offerings, the GLE Coupe is to the regular GLE what the X6 is to the X5: a more sporty-looking, coupe-like interpretation of a regular SUV. But how can you see the differences between the two? Let us explain.
From the front, there’s very little to differentiate them. Both have the same prominent grille, set apart from non-AMG models by the twin slats running through its centre. Both have the same shapely headlights which sit above a gaping front air intake, divided by a floating ‘A-wing’ which runs the width of the car.
The further you go along the sides, however, the easier the game of “spot the difference” becomes. Everything behind the A-Pillar is dissimilar: the roof of the GLE 63 Coupe starts to slope from the trailing edge of the front doors, and continues in a gentle curve right up to the boot lid.
In contrast, the regular GLE 63 is much more in keeping with regular SUV designs and, as a result, the roof is almost completely horizontal to the rear, where it sharply drops off towards the bumper. The regular GLE also features roof rails as a nod to its more practical nature (or as practical as a twin-turbo super-SUV can be, anyway…)
The differences between the GLE and its coupe sibling are most obvious at the back. The prominent rear bumper and vertical boot lid makes the regular model look square and chunky by comparison. The Coupe, on the other hand, looks far sleeker, thanks to the S-Class Coupe-inspired tail lights and quad exhausts which run into the base of the bumper.
As with the exterior, all seems the same up front in the cabin. In both models, a seven inch display sits in the centre of the dash, flanked by two large air vents. The rear seats are the giveaway, though. The lower roofline of the Coupe makes things more cramped in the back, so taller passengers will probably much prefer the regular car. Legroom is still great in either, as is boot space: although the coupe has the smaller load bay by 20 litres but, at 670 litres overall, it’s still gigantic.
Both gain extra goodies over the lower spec models, like a flat-bottomed steering wheel and front sports seats, which offer greater lateral support during the sort of cornering manoeuvres these cars are capable of.
Whichever AMG GLE you choose, performance and cornering ability defy belief for a car of this type. The mechanicals are largely identical for both cars, which means that power is sent in a 40:60 split front to rear via Mercedes’ 4Matic all-wheel drive system.
The air suspension features adaptive dampers, which can adjust instantaneously to ensure a stable drive through corners without harming ride quality when cruising. Both models weigh over two tonnes and, as a result, require some serious stopping power – brake discs measure 390mm up front and 345mm at the rear.
The AMG-tweaked engine is identical in both. The 5.5-litre, twin-turbocharged V8 petrol unit pumps out 585 horsepower, and a mighty 561lb ft of torque. Shoehorned under the bonnet of either the GLE 63 or the Coupe, it enables a 0-62mph time of just 4.2 seconds before reaching an electronically limited top speed of 155mph. Each AMG engine is hand built using its ‘one man, one engine’ philosophy, and each wears a plaque displaying the name of the expert who screwed it all together.
Price and release date
Both models are yet to go on sale, and Mercedes is yet to reveal the prices. However, the outgoing AMG M-Class cost almost £87,000, so we expect the more powerful GLE 63 to cost a little more. The coupe version will likely command an even greater premium, so don’t expect much change from £100,000…