As you ease your foot off of the brake pedal, your heart suddenly jumps into your throat with an exciting beat. Pulsing through your veins is nothing but sheer driving exhilaration as you coast slowly ten feet, only to turn around and press the brake again. You stop for a moment, maybe even a few minutes, and repeat the process. Every time you lift your left foot, you know that there are 603 horsepower just wanting to get up and get rowdy. Sadly, you’re trapped in the student pick-up lane at the local elementary school.
Where did you go wrong? Would you trade your kids for the opportunity to enthusiastically drive the 2021 Mercedes AMG GLE 63 S to its maximum potential? After reading about it, you might seriously consider it. (Disclaimer: Don’t trade your children or other family members for a car. Even a really nice one.)
All kidding aside, the general population probably doesn’t need that kind of power in a crossover. But if you can afford it, then why not? What’s wrong with just a little more icing on an already flavorful cake? Deconstructing the presentation of the AMG GLE63 isn’t just about badge-gazing. It has a lot to do with what lurks on the horizon over at Mercedes-Benz. Is this mild-hybrid concept going to take over the entire lineup eventually? After reading up on it, it might not be as bad as you might think.
Husky Yet Haughty
If you look past the astounding horsepower figures or even the 0-to-60 time of 3.8 seconds, you are left with a Kindergarten-aged crossover SUV looking to be loved. To be fair for all parties involved, the AMG GLE 63 S looks more like an inflated hatch than it does a purpose-built miniature SUV. The diminutive stature next to something else, say a GLS 550, still has undertones of bloat, especially in the facial region. The elongated grille design hearkens towards somewhat of a American design. However, that is balanced out by refined headlamps that scream European refinement.
Unique for the AMG edition of the GLE 63 is a set of absolutely massive 22-inch wheels. The sheer height of the wheels gives the stature a somewhat daddy long legs look, which becomes more exaggerated the skinnier the tire gets. To counterbalance the “look at me!” wheels is a greenhouse with very few pillar voids, with the C-pillar being the most dominant. This design note gives the crossover an airy style, both inside and out. From the curb, nothing seems cramped or claustrophobic — except maybe around the rear gate. From behind, the liftgate tilts ever so slightly inward. This style gives the perception of punctuated cargo space and less than adequate headroom for back seat passengers.
A Not-So-Pinched Cabin
If you’re stuck on the pure aesthetics of the cabin, take a chance to grace the exotic leather seats and experience for yourself. This crossover is definitely not just a sedan on stilts. Cargo room abounds, with the AMG version opting out of any third-row options. This decision to nix the possibility of hauling an entire basketball team was a weight-saving measure. Ergonomic grip handles are ready for when your behind starts to jostle about from the spirited driving taking place. Your butt will stick securely to the Napa Leather massaging seats (yes, massaging) for the duration of your trip. Your trip to the grocery store just became more of an exotic vacation.
Other interior notes include technological advancements that you might have seen in an episode of Knight Rider. As you travel, certain comforts might escape you. For example, maybe you’ll feel a quick chill might rattle your spine as you’re passing through a tunnel. A simple “Mercedes, I’m cold” will activate the intelligent climate control and alter the heat settings to suit your comfort level. The MBUX (Mercedes Benz User Experience) infotainment system caters to you, the driver. And it should, with a price tag hovering around $130,000. For that kind of cash, the AMG GLE 63 S should be able to make you a sandwich at a stoplight. Maybe next year.
Assumption is the mother of all misunderstanding. That makes the AMG GLE 63 S a hard one to judge. Given its overall tame body styling, it gives the vibe of being just another hastily designed crossover to fill a market segment. However, just like its big brother, the GLS, slapping on a bunch of AMG goodies transforms it from sweet kitty to mountain lion. The same engine that gets plunked into the GLS also goes into the GLE 63 S, a 4.0-liter turbo V8. A BorgWarner turbocharger pumps fresh air into this brute of an engine to maximize every single piston stroke. The piston travel isn’t constant, however. The intelligent systems that reside in the computer can switch over to running strictly on four-cylinders.
An engine that can intuitively change your car from a Civic to an Expedition depending on driving conditions? Who would have imagined it? Take that a step further and factor in the mild-hybrid technology, which adds not only range but horsepower. When supplied to all-four wheels, a conservative 0-to-60 time of 3.7 seconds is easily achieved. With any spirited driving, also comes massive fuel consumption.
Is it Good On Gas?
Shockingly, the AMG GLE 63 S doesn’t have terrible fuel economy. It’s no Highlander. But at the same, thank goodness it’s not another Highlander. In a real-world driving scenario, where people drive politely, an estimated 21 miles per gallon can be achieved when you average out highway and city driving. The nine-speed transmission does an excellent job of anticipating the desired gear without giving you too much hesitation. A stutter has been stated to come from the turbo, but not enough to write home about. The ability to hold Mercedes to that figure is subjective, though. There’s too much horsepower to tool about tamely. If you did, it’d be a waste of a spunk.
The Final Chalk Up
Combining a fanciful AMG body kit with delightful drivetrain is one thing. Wrapping those elements into a crossover body is another. It’d be a great thing if those in the market for crossovers all had almost $130,000 to spend on a vehicle. Sadly, that market isn’t very big. The typical crossover driver shops for practicality and overall value, not the 0-to-60 time or the 173 mph top speed. Think of this; the AMG GLE 63 S has “dynamic driver” settings, including Basic, Advanced, Pro, and Master. How often is a crossover SUV seen at a drag race?
Overall this vehicle is sensational. It has a powertrain and built-in technology that very few can rival. Placing this AMG crossover in your garage will give you an open karaoke machine, but no singing talent whatsoever. If you look beyond the styling that mimics a can of beans and the ludicrous price tag, it’s a song you think you can sing. If you come to your senses, you’ll realize it’s more like being the drunk person at karaoke night. But hey, if money is no object for you, then you’ll love the AMG GLE 63 S.