- Doors and Seats
- Engine Power
- Ancap Safety
Performance SUVs are now the norm rather than the black sheep – especially from the premium manufacturers. Trent Nikolic finds out whether the brawny 2022 Mercedes-AMG GLE63 S Coupe is as flexible as its wagon sibling in a segment that is undoubtedly focused on style.
- Engine remains a potent performer on any road
- Hides its weight even on tight back roads
- Matches style with substance in the real world
- Sloping roof line eats into rear headroom
- Ride is firm on poor road surfaces
- We’d still love more efficiency from the mild hybrid system
There’s little doubt that if you’re looking at an SUV coupe, you’re doing so with styling at the front of your mind. If you’re looking at a ‘performance’ SUV coupe specifically, you’re part of an even smaller niche. However, when it comes to the 2022 Mercedes-AMG GLE63 S Coupe, you find yourself assessing a proper muscle SUV if ever there were one.
Our test car starts from $222,700 before on-road costs, and refreshingly devoid of expensive options, that’s still what it costs before on-road costs too. I reckon the Polar White non-metallic paint does a lot for the aggressive styling and size of the coupe, but you do see plenty on the road in dark grey and black too. It’s a shape that works with nearly any colour. For mine, though, I love the white exterior in a climate like ours.
There’s no shortage of formidable competition in this rare air either, with the BMW X6, Porsche Cayenne Coupe and Audi SQ8 all taking the fight right up to the big Merc. It’s fair to say that AMG goes about it in a slightly different fashion with a little bit more brawn on display. The styling is all about big features, bold statements and either a ‘look at me’ or a ‘what the hell are you looking at?’ attitude depending on how you prefer it.
The 22-inch wheels are enormous in isolation but somehow fill the guards just right. Change one when you get a nail in it and you’ll realise how big they really are… The raked roofline, aforementioned wheels, and fat (or should that be phat) rump are all as muscular as they are stylish, and the broad grille that sits between the headlights plays its part too.
Style is only part of the equation, though. As are the numbers on the page. Let’s find out what the GLE63 S Coupe is like on the road.
|Key details||2022 Mercedes-AMG GLE63 S Coupe|
|Colour of test car||Polar White non-metallic|
|Price as tested||$222,700|
|Rivals||BMW X6 | Porsche Cayenne Coupe | Audi SQ8|
The GLE63 S Coupe’s cabin is an exceptional exercise in premium refinement. There’s a sporty element to the design, which resonates with the overall aim of the AMG enhancements, but sportiness doesn’t come at the cost of comfort. The front seats are heated and ventilated, and you even get heated armrests up front as well as a
The nappa leather trim is beautifully finished, and the steering wheel also gets a combo of nappa leather and Mercedes’s signature Dinamica material. Passengers get four-zone climate control, the doors are power closing – no excuse for the kids to slam them, then – and there’s a panoramic sunroof. The ambient lighting adds a touch of class when the sun goes down, you get keyless entry and start, and the tailgate is a snappy electric one. It’s handy in the rain, as we found for some of our testing week.
I like the way the GLE63 S Coupe’s cabin feels sporty and focused, but is supremely comfortable on a long road trip. Part of that comes from being able to drop the driver’s seat down into the cabin, as you would a sportier car, so that works well, especially for the taller drivers among us. There’s a composed insulation to the cabin at all times, though. Really poor surfaces do register through the suspension, but only our worst roads unsettle the big SUV. The cabin – regardless of which seat you’re in – remains otherwise unaffected.
The only real difference between the coupe and its wagon sibling is the rear headroom, which obviously takes a haircut thanks to the steeply raked roof line. Still, it’s comfortable once you’re in, and the second-row seat itself is comfortable. We reckon three tall adults across that second row is a stretch, but teenagers will have plenty of room.
The luggage space – 655L with the second row in use and 1790L with those seats folded down – is useful and easy to access for family buyers. If you’re hitting the road for a family trip carrying luggage for four, you’re going to have plenty of room for everything you need. The GLE is tall, so loading heavy items up into the luggage area will require the tallest family member to step up, but there’s plenty of room for the usual array of family items.
|2022 Mercedes-AMG GLE63 S Coupe|
|Boot volume||655L seats up / 1790L seats folded|
Infotainment and Connectivity
I liked the MBUX system from my first sample of it, and it’s done nothing to annoy or frustrate me every time I’ve tested it since. When we first saw the system in its infancy at CES, it appeared as a smartphone-like leap forward into the new technological abyss. Now, though, systems like MBUX are par for the course. Along with Audi, the Mercedes-Benz user interface sits as a premium, high-end example of how it should work. First up, the 13-speaker Burmester sound system is excellent.
Everything about the system looks high-quality and it works the same way. Once you get familiar with the system, it’s easy to understand and easy to navigate. There’s so much to control, so many things to customise, that it’s worth spending an hour or two at home in the garage or driveway working it all out and getting familiar with it. Once you are, it’s easy.
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The HVAC controls in the GLE are excellent and easy to use on the fly – not the case for all vehicles in 2022. The twin 12.3-inch screens run the latest MBUX update, and the driver’s digital screen is excellent. It’s clear, easy to read, and easy to set up to display exactly what you want to look at. Not one for a move from traditional gauges initially, I’ve grown to enjoy using them, and the Mercedes-AMG execution is one of the best.
The centre screen controls all the infotainment workings of the GLE, as well as vehicle settings and things like lighting. Below the centre screen, the controls you’ll use most often – like the HVAC settings – are all arranged neatly with easy to access toggle switches. When you do need to use the screen, it’s responsive and reliable. You can run through the gamut of colours for the LED cabin lighting, for example, which help to offer a personalised feeling with the GLE.
There’s the large track pad, too, which is another factor that works easily once you get your head around the touch response and pressure required. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto both feature, and they work nicely, too, which in a way asks the question of why you need the full MBUX interface, but the choice is yours. I spend more time using the smartphone connection than I do the MBUX system, for what it’s worth. The head-up display is an excellent addition, and for those of you who like wireless smartphone charging, that’s there, too, in a practical location.
The Mercedes-AMG GLE63 has a full five-star ANCAP safety rating based on testing from 2019, which applies to the wagon variant, but the coupe specifically hasn’t been tested. Standard safety equipment is extensive and includes autonomous AEB, lane-keep assist, traffic sign assist, lane-departure warning, blind-spot assist, exit warning alert, and nine airbags including a driver’s knee airbag.
You also get adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go, and semi-autonomous parking assistance standard, too, while AMG Active Ride Control and AMG Ride Control+ adaptive dampers keep everything going in the right direction on any surface.
At nearly a quarter of a million dollars, the GLE63 S Coupe is hardly something that the majority of Australians can afford. Those of you who can, however, will be getting some serious mumbo – and bang – for your buck. Servicing is well within the realistic sphere of a vehicle of this quality and price, and the fuel usage
isn’t outrageous around town either.
Those servicing plans are capped over three, four or five years respectively, and they cost $3600, $4600 and $5300 over that period.
|At a glance||2022 Mercedes-AMG GLE63 S Coupe|
|Warranty||Five years / unlimited km|
|Service intervals||12 months or 20,000km|
|Servicing costs||$3600 (3 years), $5300 (5 years)|
A five-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty is solid too. Two things, though. First, get it serviced on time. Look after it. And secondly, don’t skimp on tyres when the time comes to replace them. Yes, the standard rubber is expensive. You could hardly have expected otherwise from a vehicle that costs this much to start with. And yet, our tyre contacts tell us time and again that plenty of owners try to skimp on one of the most important components on their AMG. Don’t do it. Get the good stuff.
|Fuel Usage||Fuel Stats|
|Fuel cons. (claimed)||11.5L/100km|
|Fuel cons. (on test)||18.3L/100km|
|Fuel tank size||93L|
If you’ve never driven an AMG-badged SUV before, you might go in expecting the GLE63 S to feel heavy and ungainly. Despite its heft – 2525kg according to its listed kerb weight – it’s anything but. Yes it feels solid, and you can’t be tricked into thinking you’re driving a small hatch, but it’s way sharper, more manoeuvrable, and more balanced than you would expect. The engine is a powerhouse, of course, but there’s more to the GLE63 S than the numbers on paper.
To the subject of what’s beneath the bonnet, the 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 hammers out 450kW and 850Nm – just enough in other words. On a serious note, this is a rapid SUV despite the fact it sits in the Large SUV segment. Yes, it should be fast with an AMG badge on the rump, but it is in the real world too. 0–100km/h in 3.8 seconds was serious supercar fast not long ago, and now you can do it with all your luggage comfortably on board.
Peak torque is available early, too, so running around town is effortless. Whether you need to nail a gap, overtake, or get off the mark quickly, there’s a mountain of torque on offer right through the rev range. It builds with an appropriate soundtrack too. Noisy, aggressive and edgy. Exactly as it should be in other words. With a platform that is 60mm shorter than the wagon, the coupe does feel different to drive enthusiastically when you test them back-to-back.
In addition to the regular mechanical mayhem, there’s the ‘EQ Boost 48-Volt ISG’ that stands for Integrated Starter Generator. It might be hard to discern what it is adding to the drive experience and when, but according to ‘Benz engineers, it tops up the power and torque by 16kW and 250Nm and sits between the engine and gearbox.
In theory, its job is to fill any torque holes – there aren’t many – and add to the sense of instant punch off the line. The GLE63 S Coupe certainly feels meaty off the mark, so we’ll accept that it’s working as planned. And there might not have been any torque holes to fill in the first place, but you can’t feel any from behind the wheel.
Active engine mounts are also standard, as well as a 48-volt active roll stabilisation system beneath the skin, which works with the active air suspension. It’s a complex melding of current technology, but it results in a flat ride at speed and more comfort than anything this heavy should be capable of. Especially given the GLE is running 22-inch strips for tyres.
Fully variable all-wheel drive assists with the surefooted way the coupe both thunders off the line, of course, but the capability of the system also makes easy work of slippery surfaces and changeable driving conditions. If you fire onto your favourite country road on the weekend, the family-friendly SUV body style is more than capable of putting a silly big grin on your face. The steering is impressively direct and balanced too.
We love the way the nine-speed automatic works at speed, but at crawling speed in town it can sometimes take a second to work out which gear it wants to be in. It’s not a deal-breaker, mind you, rather something you notice given how precise it is on the move in the more focused driving modes.
There’s no doubt whatsoever that if you measure the concept of a muscle SUV – if there is such a thing – on the way in which you can hustle it at speed, the AMG GLE63 S Coupe really does sit at the top of the pile.
|Key details||2022 Mercedes-AMG GLE63 S Coupe|
|Engine||4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 petrol|
|Power||450kW @ 5750rpm|
|Torque||850Nm @ 2500rpm|
|Drive type||All-wheel drive|
|Transmission||Nine-speed torque convertor automatic|
|Power to weight ratio||178.2kW/t|
|Tow rating||2700kg braked, 750kg unbraked|
Whether you should buy an SUV as decadent as not just an AMG, but an AMG coupe, is something of a moot point. Yes, there are more practical ways of doing the same thing. Yes, there are more efficient ways of doing the same thing. And yes, there are affordable ways of doing the same thing. But, and it’s a big but, none of that matters.
Buying an AMG is a different proposition. You’re buying into the performance heritage, the theatre, the visual drama and the drive experience. I’d still prefer a regular AMG wagon over the coupe, but this is a style argument too. And if you’ve got an eye for design, the muscular nature of this coupe is hard to resist.
Any AMG is a modern-day performance icon. Grab one while you can.