by Jay Traugott
It wasn't so long ago that SUVs like the Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S Coupe didn't exist. In fact, there was really no need for them because performance-oriented buyers generally preferred powerful sedans, coupes, and even supercars. But the first-generation BMW X6 M changed this when it debuted in 2009. Suddenly, big horsepower figures for a luxury SUV coupe became a thing, and Mercedes-AMG was never going to let its fellow German rival get all of the attention. And this brings us to the all-new 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S Coupe, the sister ship to the AMG GLE 63 S SUV, which debuted late last year. The GLE SUV and GLE Coupe share the same relationship as the BMW X5 and X6. Same platform. Same engine, but different exterior designs.
Although GLE Coupe customers sacrifice some rear-seat headroom and cargo space, they are getting a sleeker and sexier vehicle in return. Life is full of compromises. But what hasn't been compromised by Mercedes-AMG is power and the new GLE 63 S Coupe delivers a supercar-like level of it.
Instead of the standard GLE SUV design, the AMG GLE 63 S Coupe has a more coupe-like roofline. It's not just a clever name. Although it looks very similar to the standard GLE Coupe, the AMG variant does stand out from the rest of the pack by way of an AMG-specific radiator grille in high-gloss chrome, a front apron in a dynamic jet-wing design, and power domes on the hood. The side skirts, mirror housings, and flared wheel arches are all painted in the vehicle's color. Base models come with 21-inch light-alloy wheels with AMG lettering, and a set of 22-inchers are optional.
Because of its performance capabilities, AMG designers needed to add various elements to the exterior, such as a rear diffuser and a special exhaust system with two rectangular high-gloss chrome-plated twin tailpipes. Buyers can also tack on the AMG Night Package, which includes heat-insulating, dark-tinted windows, and a black-painted front splitter, front and rear apron trim, mirror caps, and window frames.
Step inside and you'll find the same dashboard layout and overall design as the GLE 63 SUV. The special AMG seats are covered in Nappa leather for ideal support. The S trim also tacks on grey seat belts and contrasting topstitching in the seats in silver grey. Ambient lighting is also standard. There are also several AMG-specific features packed in, such as a three-spoke steering wheel with aluminum shift paddles. Other AMG-specific bits are brushed stainless steel sports pedals, door sill panels and black floor mats with "AMG" lettering.
There's also the excellent MBUX infotainment system, located in the central touchscreen. A large screen directly in front of the driver replaces the now old school analog gauges. The center console also houses the AMG control unit which handles the three-stage ESP, manual transmission mode, Adaptive Damping System, AMG Performance exhaust, and the vehicle's ride height. As previously noted, overall rear seat and cargo space is down compared to the standard SUV.
Under the hood lies a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 connected to a 48-volt mild-hybrid system, which adds 21 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque. Total output comes to 603 hp and 627 lb-ft. All of that power is directed to the AMG Performance 4MATIC+ all-wheel drive system through a nine-speed automatic transmission. Speed? Try 0-60 mph in only 3.7 seconds and an estimated top speed of 174 mph. Not so long ago, those were supercar numbers.
To help improve fuel economy, the mild-hybrid system serves as a power generator and performs functions like boost, recuperate, and engine start/stop. This system also powers the AMG Active Ride Control roll stabilization. What this does is improve overall ride comfort by eliminating body roll through corners by using the air suspension and adaptive damping adjustments. Drivers have a choice of damping modes: Comfort, Sport, and Sport+. The Dynamic Select modes for the ideal driving experience based on terrain are Comfort, Sport, Sport+, Individual, Race, Trail, and Sand.
The 2021 AMG GLE 63 S Coupe's most direct rival is, of course, the BMW X6 M. However, others players in the segment should not be ignored, including the Porsche Cayenne Turbo Coupe, Lamborghini Urus, and Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio. All are fast, expensive, and extremely luxurious. It's hard to go wrong, assuming you have the funds.
Speaking of which, Mercedes-AMG has yet to announce official pricing, but the standard AMG GLE S SUV begins at around $113,000. The Coupe variant always costs more, so figure a starting price somewhere closer to $120,000. Sales are expected to get underway this fall.