Mercedes-AMG GLE 63: first pictures and details

Mercedes-AMG has released the first details of the GLE 63 Coupe, a monster SUV which the German brand is aiming squarely at the BMW X6M.

Not only that, but it must also compete with the latest Porsche Cayenne Turbo S, which is set to be the most potent SUV ever. Mercedes claims the GLE 63 combines “the sportiness of a coupé with the strengths of an SUV” and the external changes to the standard GLE are obviously apparent.

Do tell…

It should come as no surprise that the GLE 63 has presence. It’s certainly hard to miss, with a gaping front air intake capable of inhaling huge volumes of air, leaves and smaller vehicles. A mesh grille houses an oversized three-pointed star, and LED headlights take care of the illumination duties. Additional power bulges and vents in the bonnet signal that “here there be monsters”.

Metallic running boards sit against the chunky sills, and giant 21-inch alloys are housed within flared wheel arches. The rear shares several cues with the S-Class coupe, in particular the smooth rear light clusters and chrome trim. Twin tail pipes peek out from the bumper, while a rear diffuser adds a small amount of downforce.

The cabin is as well-appointed as you’d hope. Trimmed in perforated leather, special stitching and AMG badges, the 63 is lifted above lesser GLE models. A flat-bottomed steering wheel features paddle shifters to allow the driver to manually shift through the seven speeds of the automatic gearbox. Ahead of the wheel, special dials feature AMG-specific graphics while a 4.4-inch multifunction display offers the driver additional information.

What powers it?

Something of a beast it turns out. The 5.5-litre biturbo V8 produces 585hp and 561lb-ft, available from low in the rev range. Each unit is hand-built by it’s own individual AMG engine specialist. The 0-62 sprint is smashed in 4.2 seconds, on its way to a limited top speed of 155mph – impressive for a car which weighs comfortably over two tonnes.

In order to keep that mass in check, huge 390mm front brake discs haul the car to a halt, and are backed up by 345mm discs at the rear. As you’d expect, fuel economy isn’t fantastic, achieving a claimed 23.7 mpg. On the other hand, UK fuel prices are the cheapest they have been for six years now, so it isn’t all bad.

Anything else I should know?

A high-riding SUV will never be the ideal basis for a sporting car, and AMG have developed several systems to prevent the GLE 63 from wallowing all over the place in the bends. Active Curve System employs adaptive anti roll bars which can tighten up during enthusiastic cornering to improve road holding. The 4MATIC four wheel drive system provides a 40:60 power split front to rear – the slightly rearward bias aims to make the GLE as agile as possible.

Speed sensitive air suspension lowers the car at high speeds in order to reduce aerodynamic drag and increase stability, while five separate drive modes can be chosen from to alter the compromise between sportiness and comfort. For those who feel that the V8 doesn’t make a rude enough noise, an optional sports exhaust will crank the volume up an extra notch.

When can I have one?

Mercedes-AMG has announced sales will start in the UK from June, though prices and specs have yet to be confirmed. Given that the ML63 costs £86,995, we’d be surprised if you get much change from £95,000.

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