by Jay Traugott
Buyers shouldn't consider whether they need a 600-horsepower SUV, but rather the endless joys something like the all-new 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLS 63 will bring into their lives. Unveiled at this year's 2019 LA Auto Show, the new AMG GLS 63 is the German automaker's SUV flagship, combining lots of power, luxury, and advanced technologies all into a three-row SUV with seating for up to seven. This full-size SUV is also a proper year-round vehicle thanks to its standard 4Matic all-wheel-drive system. Snow, sand, or the track are all conquerable.
Although the GLS 63 caters to a wealthy clientele, the competition in this segment is actually quite fierce, but it's clear Mercedes-AMG has very little to worry about. After all, this is considered to be the "S-Class of SUVs" meets AMG Performance Luxury.
The new Mercedes-AMG GLS 63 S may, at first, look like the "standard" GLS SUV, but it doesn't take long to notice the many differences. For starters, there's the AMG-specific radiator grille with vertical slats in high-gloss chrome. It also happens to be the largest grille used on any AMG model. The hood has its own unique design to help fit the engine (more on that shortly), and there are unique Dynamic LED headlights with adaptive high beam assist. AMG describes the front bumper as having an integrated jetwing design. The front splitter, silver jetwing trim strip, and side air inlets are also visibly noticeable. The Mercedes-AMG crew at Affalterbach also incorporated flared wheel arches, side skirts, and window surrounds, the latter also in high-gloss chrome trim.
The rear end features an AMG-specific bumper and diffuser, and two rectangular twin tailpipes complete the exhaust system. Standard wheel size is 21-inches, but AMG offers up to 23-inch variants. 'V8 Biturbo' badges can be found above the front wheels and on the rear liftgate.
Mercedes-AMG didn't hold back here. Step inside and you'll be astonished as to how far the blending of tech and luxury has come. Not only are there AMG sports pedals in brushed stainless steel, illuminated door sill panels with "AMG" lettering, and 64-color configurable ambient lighting, but there's also this highlight: a high-resolution 12.3-inch Digital Instrument Cluster and 12.3-inch Touchscreen Media Display. Both are contained within a single glass cover.
The driver and front-seat passenger benefit from AMG-specific, multicontour seats featuring seat climate controls and massage functions. Even the second-row seats are heated, while this is optional for the third-row. A 3-spoke AMG steering wheel and aluminum shift paddles will also please the driver.
Compared to its predecessor, the new AMG GLS 63 boasts a longer wheelbase and, therefore, more interior space. The second-row occupants, in particular, benefit with an increase of legroom by 3.4-inches. The second-row bench can also be swapped for a pair of optional captain's chairs. Other premium features include an optional Burmester 3D surround system, the Air-Balance package and Energizing Package.
If AMG is known for anything it's their incredible engines. The AMG GLS 63 is powered by a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 with 603 hp and 627 lb-ft of torque. The engine is further integrated with a 48-volt electric system called the EQ Boost starter-generator. It combines the starter motor and alternator into a single electric motor placed between the engine and transmission. It also happens to provide an additional 21 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque as well as handling hybrid boost functions like boost, recuperation, gliding, and the start/stop engine function.
The automaker claims a 0 to 60 time of 4.1 seconds and an electronically limited top speed of 174 mph. Meanwhile, a nine-speed automatic gearbox distributes power to the 4Matic all-wheel-drive system.
And with a lot of power comes great responsibility, meaning proper suspension tuning. AMG Ride Control, consisting of an air suspension and the Adaptive Damping System is standard. A total of six drive modes are available: Comfort, Sport, Sport+, Individual, Trail, and Sand. Stopping power features a ventilated and perforated brake discs with 6-piston fixed calipers up front and internally ventilated brake discs with a 1-piston caliper at the rear.
Despite its high performance capabilities, the AMG GLS 63 comes equipped with many standard safety features, including Evasive Steering Assist, Active Blind Spot Assist, Active Lane Keeping Assist, and Pre-Safe Impulse Side. The latter is quite clever in that it physically moves the driver or front seat passenger up to 2.75-inches away from the impact area by rapidly inflating the seat's side booster.
For those who crave advanced tech, the MBUX infotainment system with AMG-specific displays delivers in spades. It can be controlled by simply touching the screen itself, or via the touchpad or steering wheel buttons. There's even voice control and hand gesture control.
Drivers can also select specific details for the AMG start-up menu on the instrument cluster. Four selectable styles are on offer: Modern Classic, Sport, Discreet, or Supersport.
Mercedes-AMG has not announced official pricing, but expect it to be anything but cheap. The outgoing 2019 Mercedes-AMG GLS 63 has a starting price of $126,150. Fully-loaded, the price tag could easily swell to over $150,000.
As for the competition, expect the BMW X7 xDrive 50i, Audi Q7, and the Audi RS Q8 to put up quite a fight. All carry hefty price tags when fully equipped. For supercar fans looking for something with the family in mind, the all-new 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLS 63 and its 603 horsepower is worth a look.