If you can afford one, that is.
If you wanted to buy the ultimate status symbol car from Mercedes-Benz, it used to be the S-Class. But these days, more buyers demand massive luxury SUVs over flagship luxury sedans, which is why Mercedes has poured so much time and effort into the latest GLS. We recently spent a week testing the all-new 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLS63, the most performance-oriented version of the GLS.
Until the Maybach version and ultimately the dedicated Mercedes-Maybach SUV arrive, the GLS63 sits as the ultimate SUV flagship in the Mercedes lineup and if you can afford the $132,100 starting price, it should definitely be high on your shopping list. Here are five things we loved about the Mercedes-AMG GLS63.
Most of the time when we test a luxury SUV, even one with a six-figure price tag, it tends to go unnoticed in traffic. The sports cars we test typically garner a lot more attention but the GLS63 seemed to be an exception. Whenever we pulled up to a set of lights in the GLS, the person in the car next to us immediately took notice and most were quick to give a thumbs up. We imagine onlookers were smitten with the menacing AMG Panamericana grille, flared wheel arches, and massive 23-inch center-lock-style wheels.
With a $132,100 starting price or $153,035 as-tested, you'd expect the GLS63's cabin to feel special. And it does. The standard GLS doesn't exactly feel spartan inside but the AMG model feels even more exceptional with expensive leather, suede, carbon fiber, and metal. We love the purposeful design, which feels opulent without sacrificing storage and practicality. Standard 64-color ambient lighting enables drivers to change the mood in the cabin and provides that wow factor for passengers. The latest Mercedes-Benz MBUX infotainment system sprawled across a massive dual widescreen setup is spectacularly integrated, too, giving the interior a real sense of grandeur.
There aren't many options that need to be added to the GLS63 but our tester was decked out with all of the coolest toys. Our favorite addition was a Rear Seat Executive Package for $3,700, which adds a Samsung tablet in the rear center armrest. From this tablet, rear occupants can control the MBUX infotainment system, adjust the massage function on the seats, and adjust the ambient lighting. The GLS63 has plenty of other cool options including a built-in air fragrance system, heated and cool cupholders, and a fabulous Burmester 3D audio system.
The GLS63 is the largest AMG model and it doesn't sacrifice on the practicality found in the standard GLS. It still features three rows of seats with the third-row accessible via the electronically lifting second row. When it comes time to fold the seats down for more cargo volume, buttons mounted in the trunk automatically lower the seats to a flat positioning, opening up nearly 85 cubic feet of space.
In terms of passenger space, the lengthy 123.4-inch wheelbase affords 40.3 and 41.9 inches of legroom for the first two rows respectively, while headroom of 39.4 and 40.2 inches, respectively, is as generous as you'll find in this segment.
Under the hood of the GLS63 sits the same 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 found in a variety of AMG models producing 603 horsepower and 627 lb-ft of torque. With a nine-speed automatic and an AMG-tuned 4MATIC+ all-wheel-drive system, Mercedes says the GLS 63 takes just 4.1 seconds to hit 60 mph on its way to a 174 mph top speed. Independent tests, however, have measured the 0-60 time closer to 3.6 seconds. Making the V8 even smoother is a 48-volt mild-hybrid system, which helps combat turbo lag and smooths out the stop/start system.
It may have an AMG badge but the GLS63 is still a luxury car first and foremost. 23-inch wheels would normally disturb ride comfort but the air suspension is still well-calibrated to keep passengers comfortable. In Sport+ mode, the 48-volt mild-hybrid system helps keep the suspension level, making the GLS 63 feel far more nimble than you'd expect.