Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S Coupe: overview

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The GLE is the new name for the revised Mercedes-Benz ML-Class and forms part of a five-strong line-up of G-labelled SUVs. The GLE Coupe is the Mercedes equivalent of the BMW X6, making the AMG version a rival for the BMW X6M. You may not like the BMW X6, but there are enough people in the world who do.

The AMG 63 S sits at the very top of the GLE Coupe tree and – as you might expect for £96,555 and that fabled AMG badge – it packs a formidable punch. How does a twin-turbo V8 offering 585hp grab you? The AMG 63 S has the weaponry to match its tank-like exterior.

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Without wishing to state the blindingly obvious, the Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S Coupe is no looker. Beauty, they say, is in the eye of the beholder, but it’s hard to imagine anyone looking at the GLE’s sportier cousin and going weak at the knees.

Still, at least it’s imposing and – we’re trying desperately hard to be positive about the styling – if you drive the full fat AMG version, you will get noticed. And we suspect that – in the UK at least – such things will matter to the SUV coupe’s target market.

But is it really the ‘agile sports coupe’ Mercedes would like you to believe? Well not exactly.

Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S Coupe: on the road

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It’s impossible to speak about the way the GLE 63 S Coupe drives without first mentioning the soundtrack. Turn the key and the oversized coupe bursts into life with an almighty rage. Fire this thing up in the morning and birds will shoot out of their nests.

The noise is unmistakably AMG-V8. Deep, angry, throaty, menacing and, at times, unpredictable. Lift off the throttle and the you’ll be greeted with a brilliant pop-pop on the overrun, something you’ll need to be aware of when travelling through sleepy villages. That said, the ‘bahn-storming’ SUV coupe will tiptoe quietly if required.

The seven-speed AMG Speedshift transmission is exceptional, offering seamless and lightning quick changes, especially in Sport mode. It’s also rather addictive using the steering wheel-mounted paddles, which add an extra layer of involvement to the driving experience. The adaptive air suspension is similarly impressive, while you’ll also be able to select between five different driving modes, with Dynamic Select offering a choice of Comfort, Slippery, Sport, Sport+ or Individual.

It behaves much like you’d expect a 2.3-tonne SUV to behave. The 585hp V8 does a perfectly good job of giving this oversized coupe a huge amount of grunt, but the bark is more impressive than the bite. It’s just too heavy to provide pinned-to-the-back-of your-seat levels of acceleration, but the delivery of power is smooth and controlled.

The GLE 63 S Coupe feels most at home on a de-restricted Autobahn, where you can make full use of the 155mph (restricted) top speed and 560lb ft of torque. When a straight inevitably gives way to a bend, the SUV Coupe doesn’t feel quite as planted as you might hope, certainly not when traveling at speeds in excess of 120mph. Unlikely to be a problem in the UK.

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But it will become a problem on a twisty B-road. Thanks to the standard-fit air suspension, the GL 63 S Coupe rides superbly, even with the bling-tastic 22-inch AMG alloy wheels, the largest ever produced by Mercedes-AMG. But when cornering, the big Merc can’t disguise its height and weight. There’s also little in the way of communication from the road, not idea in a performance-led machine, albeit an SUV. It’s just not as playful as you might expect an AMG-badged car to be.

Things improve when you select Sport+ mode, which acts like someone has gone through the entire car and tightened all the screws. The Mercedes feels sharper, more planted and more worthy of the AMG badge. The pay off is a marked drop in the ride quality, as small imperfections can send the GLE Coupe off line. For once, we’d suggest Comfort mode provides the best compromise, it’s just that it feels wrong writing that in a review of a Mercedes-AMG.

Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S Coupe: on the inside

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Good news! The GLE Coupe’s cabin provides some welcome solace from the exterior styling. There few complaints when it comes to the quality of the GLE Coupe’s interior, which is the same as you’ll find in its more conservative sibling.

The supremely comfortable seats and Alcantara-shod steering wheel offer multiple levels of adjustment, so finding a good driving position won’t be too hard. There’s further good news for rear seat passengers who will find plenty of leg and headroom, although the black headlining and sloping roof do combine to make it feel a tad claustrophobic back there.

But given Mercedes has reduced the height by 65mm compared to the standard GLE, we can’t be too critical. Five adults will be available to cross continents in extreme comfort, although the middle seat is raised slightly above the outer pair.

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It’s just a shame that the function of the luggage area has suffered in the name of form. By giving the GLE Coupe the rear-end styling to mimic an S-Class, Mercedes has created a high boot lip that makes lifting heavy objects a real struggle. If you’ve got a pushchair or regularly carry bulky objects, choose the standard GLE.

On the plus side, the 60:40 split-folding rear seats do fold flat to provide 1,720 litres of usable space. Just make sure you consult your dog before buying a GLE Coupe. It won’t thank you for forcing it to pole-vault in order to jump into the boot.

Other complaints include an overly-fussy centre console and dashboard, along with Mercedes-Benz’s continued use of numerous stalks behind the steering wheel. It’s far too easy to find the steering wheel adjustment when searching for the cruise control, while using the wipers and indicators can be a bit of a lottery. Still, you’ll inevitably get used to it over time. Besides, the infotainment screen is excellent and it’s refreshing to find the controls for the climate control on a pair of traditional dials.

A word about the optional Bang & Olufsen BeoSound AMG sound system, which is up there with the best in-car systems we’ve experienced. Even with the volume cranked up to the max, there was no distortion through the music being streamed via the iPod.

Sure, you might expect such a system to be standard-fit on a car costing close to £100k, but given Mercedes wants you to fork out an extra £3,295 for park assist, ventilated seats and keyless entry/start – part of the Premium Package – you won’t be surprised to learn it’ll set you back £3,495. It’s well worth it.

You’ll need all the help you can get when parking this pumped-up SUV, because rearward visibility is atrocious. The view through the rear window is small in the extreme and the C-pillars make reversing a bit of a lottery.

Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S Coupe: running costs

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Hey, you’re not going to buy an AMG-tuned SUV Coupe and be that concerned with running costs. Assuming you can stomach the near £100k price tag, this won’t be a cheap thing to run. On an admittedly enthusiastic 85-mile sprint, which took in some de-restricted stretches of Autobahn, we managed to consume close to half a tank of unleaded. Given the 93-litre tank will cost upwards of £100 to fill, those cross-continent blasts may turn expensive.

You could, of course, opt for the diesel-engined GLE 350d, but on a more leisurely drive across Bavaria and into Austria, we saw a return of just 28mpg. Clearly, coupes weren’t designed for hauling 2.3-tonnes of V8-powered excess across Europe’s most mountainous regions.

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And you’ll need to factor in the cost of replacing the 285/40 R22 tyres at the front, along with the huge 325/35 R22s at the rear. As for road tax, well that will set you back £1,100 in the first year and £500 for each year thereafter. Make no mistake, the Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S Coupe will be an expensive mistress, but if you’re about to fork out to buy one of these new, you’ve almost certainly got the means to be able to run one. The last time we looked, Premier League footballers were quite well paid…

Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S Coupe: verdict

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If look-at-me motors float your boat, you’re sure to find much to like about the GLE 63 S Coupe. In fact, we’d go as far as to say that if you’re planning on buying a GLE Coupe, you really ought to opt for the full bore AMG V8. If you find yourself looking further down the model range and pondering one of diesel-engined variants from a practicality and economy standpoint, you may be better off with the revised GLE.

Don’t get us wrong, it’s not without appeal and we totally get why Mercedes wants a slice of the BMW X6M pie. The soundtrack is brilliantly bonkers, there’s bags of grip, the interior is superbly executed and – whisper this – but it does look its best in full-fat AMG flavour.

But the same is true of the £20,000 cheaper E63 AMG wagon and we know where we’d be spending our money. Not only will it be nicer to drive, people will look at you with a knowing nod, rather than a disapproving shake of the head. Your dog will thank you for it, too.

Specification: Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S Coupe

Engine: 5.5-litre V8 petrol
Gearbox: Seven-speed automatic
Prices from: £96,555
Power: 585hp
Torque: 560lb ft
0-62mph: 4.2 seconds
Top speed: 155mph (limited)
Fuel economy: 23.7mpg
CO2 emissions: 278g/km