by Adam Lynton
Sporty luxury SUVs were always shunned by purists, but with the introduction of "coupe" variants, the fast SUV gets even more impractical and bonkers. The Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S Coupe is a $113,000 exercise in impracticality and implausibility, but it's not alone. The BMW X6 M is a similarly oddly-shaped SUV that goes like stink. To counter that beast's 4.4-liter turbo engine, the GLE 63 S is fitted with a 5.5-liter twin-turbo V8 developing 577 horsepower and 561 lb-ft of torque. All good and well, but the sloping roofline makes this an uncomfortable vehicle for taller people who are sitting in the back. Nevertheless, with a towing capacity of 7,200 lbs, you can always pull your friends along in their car.
The GLE 63 S Coupe is unchanged and has had no major updates for the 2019 model year. However, the price has risen from $111,860 to $113,000.
|AMG GLE 63 S 4MATIC Coupe||
5.5-liter Twin-Turbo V8 Gas
The GLE's most obvious design trait is its sloping roofline. Coupled with a stubby tail and 22-inch wheels, this is intended to make the GLE coupe appear more sporty. With signature LED lighting at the front and rear, plus quad-tipped exhausts and the usual vents and gaping air intakes, the GLE is easy to spot from afar.
Despite its curves, the GLE coupe is still a large brute, weighing in at 5,379 lbs and measuring 193.6 inches long. Its wheelbase is 114.8 inches, while the height measures 67.7 inches. Width is an imposing 83.8 inches. Ground clearance is eight inches on the dot. Maximum approach and departure angles are 22.4 and 24.5 degrees respectively, with its breakover angle at 16.4 degrees. That said, we doubt this vehicle will be used by buyers for much more than climbing the occasional sidewalk.
The GLE 63 S is fitted with an AMG 5.5-liter twin-turbo V8. In this guise, it makes 577 hp and 561 lb-ft of torque. Power is sent to all four wheels via a seven-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters. With such astonishing power and torque, the GLE 63 S makes short work of acceleration from a standing start, and easily overtakes more practical vehicles on the road. The gearbox can be a bit dim-witted and slow to respond, however, a trait that the slightly sportier X6 M from Bavaria does not share. However, when in automatic mode, it does shift smoothly, and the gruff engine has a bassy tone that is pleasant rather than annoying. With the optional tow-hitch, the GLE 63 S can tow a maximum of 7,200 lbs - so perhaps an SUV with an oversized engine is not all bad.
If you're expecting the GLE 63 S Coupe to be more akin to the driving characteristics of a regular car than its height suggests, disappointment awaits. Unlike certain rivals, such as the BMW X6 M or Porsche Cayenne Turbo, the GLE exhibits serious body roll in the corners. The trade-off, naturally, would be a brilliant ride and fantastic insulation from imperfections. Unfortunately, the air suspension setup in this SUV allows the vehicle to lean in for quicker turns, yet still proves fallible when the road is less than perfect as mid-corner bumps and deviations unsettle the ride. The steering too is numb, but at least it is direct. Braking is inoffensive and easy to modulate, bringing the GLE to a stop with little drama. Overall, the 63 S will impress those who haven't sampled better, but it is disappointing to those of us that have driven a more dynamic or more comfortable sports SUV.
The Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S Coupe scores 14/18/15 mpg on the city/highway/combined cycles. Both the BMW X6 M and Porsche Cayenne Turbo score better, with 14/19/16 mpg and 15/19/17 mpg respectively. However, the Merc has the biggest gas tank, at 24 gallons. This allows for fewer stops, with an estimated range of 360 miles of mixed driving. As with most modern cars, stop/start technology is also included to reduce consumption when stopped at the lights.
The GLE 63 S Coupe is a five-seater, but unlike the GLE 63 S SUV, you won't easily fit tall individuals in the back. The sloping roofline eats into rear headroom noticeably, but at least legroom all round is good. However, it does feel smaller than the exterior dimensions would lead one to believe. Getting in and out is also a challenge thanks to the high sills, and rear occupants have to duck. The side-step is also too small to be used and too big to be completely out of the way. Where form dictates the design of a vehicle, function often suffers.
The sloped angle and power operation of the rear hatch should mean that it's easy to load items into the GLE Coupe. Unfortunately, the opening is high and the angle obstructs larger items. Only 23 cubic feet of volume is available, making it a challenge to squeeze five full-size suitcases into the rear, but with a center pass-through and 60/40 folding seats, more practicality can be extracted. Maximum volume with the rear seats down is 60.7 cubic feet, but don't expect to fit a pair of mountain bikes in there. If you intend to use your GLE 63 S for more than the occasional school run or dash to the shops, rather avoid the coupe and go for the original SUV.
Despite its foibles, the GLE 63 S Coupe still benefits from being the top-spec model in the GLE lineup. Heated and ventilated front seats, adaptive air suspension, a 360-degree camera, adaptive LED headlights with auto high beams, auto wipers, keyless entry and start, a panoramic sunroof, and a power liftgate are all standard. Also included are features like dual-zone climate control, ambient lighting, heated and cooled front cupholders, and safety features like a drowsy driver warning system, forward-collision warning with automatic emergency braking, crosswind assist, blind-spot monitoring, and lane departure warning. Options include tri-zone climate control, parking sensors, adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist, collision avoidance, massaging front and heated rear seats, and soft-close doors.
The standard infotainment system features an eight-inch color display connected to a 13-speaker Harman Kardon audio setup, but no touchscreen option is available. Instead, you have the option of upgrading to a 14-speaker Bang & Olufsen system. WiFi is also optional, but standard features are numerous. Navigation via the COMAND network is included, as is voice control, Bluetooth and USB connectivity (two ports), Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and SiriusXM satellite radio. A DVD/CD player is also included, along with an SD card reader. For maximum satisfaction in the rear, dual screens can be installed into the front headrests. DVDs, gaming devices, and more can be connected to these, thus ensuring a quiet second row on long trips.
The GLE 63 S Coupe has a great rating of 83 out of 100 on J.D. Power's reliability index. The vehicle has also not been subject to any recalls thus far. In the event of any issues rearing their head, Mercedes covers the vehicle with a four-year/50,000-mile basic warranty and also provides corrosion, drivetrain, and roadside assistance coverage for the same period.
The Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S Coupe has not yet been rated by the NHTSA in their crash tests - vehicles in this class and price range tend not to be. However, the IIHS has tested the vehicle and bestowed it with their best possible rating of Good in the overall evaluation. The car has also been awarded with their Top Safety Pick+ trophy for 2019 models, thanks in part to the standard adaptive LED headlights.
Standard safety features include blind-spot monitoring, lane-departure warning, drowsy driver warning, crosswind assist, and forward-collision warning with automatic emergency braking. Optional safety equipment includes a collision-avoidance system, lane-keep assist, adaptive cruise control, and parking sensors at the front and rear.
The GLE 63 S Coupe is an overpowered, floaty behemoth of a sports utility vehicle that forgoes the practicality aspect in lieu of questionable style. Personal opinions aside, it really is difficult to see the value in a vehicle like this. It's not particularly good-looking, the handling is iffy, and there are more powerful straight-line vehicles out there with far more useful cargo areas. The biggest competition comes from within the Mercedes family, where the regular AMG GLE SUV will return the same gas mileage, tow the same loads, and seat all five occupants more comfortably while lugging their stuff in the back. The same features and convenience options are available with the interior finished to the same high standard, too. The GLE 63 S Coupe is not especially bad in any one area of its capability, but it's not a standout performer in any of them either. There is something to be said for a big engine in an odd body - the GLE 63 S Coupe certainly has character. But still, the only reason to buy this vehicle is that you find the shape to be compelling in some way. In every other quantifiable measure, the GLE Coupe is pointless.
This is not a vehicle for the budget-conscious. Starting at $113,000 before the obligatory $995 destination charge, the GLE 63 S Coupe is almost $3,000 more expensive than the regular AMG GLE SUV. Fully loaded, you can have the GLE 63 S Coupe with features like an adaptive exhaust, rear-seat entertainment system, tow hitch, massaging front seats, heated rear seats, tri-zone climate control, and carbon-fiber interior trim - plus expensive metallic white paint on the body. All in, the cost will creep over $130,000 before sundry charges and taxes.
Since the AMG GLE 63 S is a standalone model, the choices are limited to options. In base form, the SUV-coupe is well-specced, and since a vehicle like this is unlikely to be used frequently for massive cross-country trips or car-pooling, we'd skip the rear cabin addendums unless you have young children. Instead, we'd opt for the massaging seats at $1,100 and the $250 heated steering wheel. Avoid the expensive paint choices - there are seven no-cost options available. We'd also consider downgrading the wheels to 21-inch variants for free, which help to improve the ride quality. The $575 trailer hitch could come in handy too, and we'd definitely spec the Premium 3 package, which adds adaptive cruise control, active blind-spot and lane-keeping assist, and active brake assist with cross-traffic function. This costs $1,600 extra. All in, this spec would bring the cost to a relatively decent $117,785.
Mercedes-AMG's biggest rival is also one of its oldest. It is almost impossible to think of Mercedes without considering what BMW has made or is making in response. The X6 M is arguably the car that started this whole sporty SUV-coupe nonsense - so, is it better? Well, with 1.1 liters of engine capacity less, the shortfall in power is only 10 hp compared to the Merc, but the Bimmer is almost 200 lbs lighter. It, however, can only manage to tow a load of 6,000lbs, 1,200 less than the AMG manages. The X6 M earns a point back for practicality, with the rear accommodating 26.6 cubic feet of your stuff versus the GLE's 23. With the seats down, things are more equal at 59.7 and 60.7 respectively. But these are performance vehicles, so which is better dynamically? Well, the X6 M certainly handles better and turns with more agility. 0-60mph times are roughly the same, but the BMW can send its power to whichever axle it feels is grippier, thus offering more consistent performance. Overall, the BMW seems to be a slightly better choice, but where the Merc's looks are divisive, the X6 M is just hideous. It's up to you to decide what you can live with.
Now here's a performance SUV that makes a little more sense. A more conventional shape, the regular GLE SUV has a far more cavernous load area, at 38.2 cubic feet. Fold the rear seats down and you've got a whopping 80.3 cubes. Interestingly, the coupe is also heavier by over 100 lbs. You also get more space in the cabin of the GLE SUV, which won't require six-footers to duck on entry or crane their necks when seated. In addition, this model's design looks far better resolved and with a starting price of $110,200 before taxes and charges, there's more spare change for options, all of which are shared with the GLE Coupe. Both models have the same engine, drivetrain, and output, which means that the GLE 63 S SUV is capable of towing the same 7,200 lbs. Overall, each occupant will be more comfortable and be able to take along more stuff when traveling in the GLE 63 S SUV. It's quite simply a no-brainer - we'd have this over the coupe variant any day.