by John Tallodi
The Mercedes GLE range offers practicality and luxury in a familiar SUV package. Now remove most of the rear space with a reprofiled rear, add the term ‘Coupe’, stick an AMG badge on it and you have what is a thoroughly impractical luxury SUV with feral performance capabilities.
The AMG GLE43 and GLE63 S duo do offer a more stylish alternative to the regular GLE format and come fitted with a full complement of technology and safety devices.
The cockpit is typical Mercedes, logically laid out controls surround the driver and soft leather seat and door coverings are complemented by a watertight build quality. The front seats offer multiple settings and there is plenty of room for just about any frame, the high driving position allows for a great view out ahead but the redesigned trunk makes seeing out the back a lot harder.
That shapely coupe rear end comes with another cost too as the rear seats are far tighter than in the regular GLE and headroom is an issue for all but the shortest of children. Cargo space too is severely compromised although similar to the BMW X6 which is the reason we now have an AMG GLE Coupe in the first place.
Equipped with AMG specification running gear, the GLE63 S and GLE43 offer a far sportier ride than the majority of SUVs on the road. The massive thrust is backed up with impressive body control and strong brakes, no amount of technological trickery can totally overcome the huge weight and high center of gravity but on the right road both of these AMG GLE coupes can deliver serious performance in a brutish sort of way.
Most owners won’t be exploring the limits of grip on a daily basis and the adaptive suspension offers a very absorbent ride in its softest setting. The cabin is well insulated from the outside world too.
The AMG GLE43 Coupe comes equipped with a twin-turbo 3.0-liter V6 which produces 385 horsepower and 384 lb-ft of torque. All-wheel drive and a 9-speed automatic transmission are standard. A claimed 5.6-second 0-60 mph time puts it on par with the quickest offerings in this segment and for most it is more than enough.
The AMG GLE63 S is an entirely different league with its twin-turbo 5.5-liter V8 pushing out 577 hp and a serious 561 lb-ft of torque, it is also all-wheel drive but comes fitted with a 7-speed automatic transmission. The 0-60 mph acceleration time tumbles to 4.1-seconds which puts the GLE63 S in the league of some of the fastest sport coupes currently on sale.
The AMG GLE43 manages 17/22 mpg in city/highway driving while the GLE63 S offers 14/18 mpg, so neither will be winning any fuel efficiency awards.
Both models offer a comprehensive standard specifications list, noteworthy luxury items include heated and cooled front cupholders, power front seats with ventilation and heating both front and rear and a panoramic sunroof. Multicolor ambient lighting, Nappa leather, massaging front seats, AMG performance details and numerous wood and aluminum trim options are available too.
Safety systems include crosswind assist, active brake assist, blind spot assist, lane keeping assist and active LED headlamps. Available options include an active blind spot assist, speed limit assist and adaptive cruise control.
A 13-speaker Harman/Kardon audio system, 8-inch infotainment screen with navigation voice control and smartphone integration takes care of in-car entertainment and for those wanting more a 14-speaker Bang & Olufsen audio system, in-car WiFi hotspot and rear seat entertainment system are available too.
Performance options include a n active curve system and AMG dynamic exhaust. A range of available packages combine many of these features to simplify the selection process.
Taken from a purely logical viewpoint, the Mercedes-AMG GLE43 and GLE63 S don’t seem to stack up.
There are more practical and similarly powerful offerings from both Mercedes and a number of competitors, and yet the stylish coupe body style has an appeal that clearly resonates with shoppers that are not bothered by the reduced rear seating and cargo space.