Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S 4Matic+ review: back to ballistics

Dean Evans
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GLE 63 S sticks with sensory V8 power: but there's a bit of electricity, too.


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Base price
Body type
sport utility vehicle
Fuel Consumption (l/100km)
Maximum power kW
Maximum torque Nm
0-100 km/h
  • Stonking performance and V8 sound
  • Supreme luxury and comfort
  • Mild hybrid, so not as thirsty as you’d think
  • Gearbox a little abrupt at times
  • Large turning circle
  • Gearbox doesn’t like three-point turns

Monster energy is alive and well within AMG. Yes, yes, electric this and that, AMG’s latest SUV is a solid reminder that it’s just so satisfying to fire up a V8, stomp the gas pedal and storm down the road in a thunderous roar of energy, a hearty yee-ha and a good old fashion horsepower thumping (stated on purpose to avoid using the electrically ambiguous term kilowatts)... all responsibly, of course.

Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S.
AMG powerplants still built to 'one engine, one person' principle.

Those who aren’t car enthusiasts will scoff and scorn, but we’ve covered EVs aplenty lately, including Mercedes’ own EQ products. This is not that.

The Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S 4Matic+, its full title, is a rip-roaring antidote for EVs and excess, coming in at a retail of more than a quarter-of-a-million dollars and with no apologies.

All the AMG ingredients are there, like the one-man, one engine principles. Our test vehicle’s engine was built... sorry, handcrafted, by Benjamin Reuth-Scharein, so says the plaque: a 4.0-litre twin-turbo petrol V8 rated at 450kW and 850Nm. That’s a lot! And despite it being fractionally down on AMG’s first EV, the EQS 53 S (by 10kW and 100Nm), we’d happily take the V8 (almost) any day.

Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S.
Seriously quick, and not just for a large SUV: 0-100km/h in 3.9sec.

This is back to AMG basics, done ballistically: acceleration is simply awesome, the sprint to 100 taking just 3.9 seconds, according to the claim. We tested it once and a 3.8 popped up. Glorious.

The Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S is a rip-roaring antidote for EVs and excess.

But it’s the theatre that’s the drug, the V8 bellowing out, the turbos spinning and whistling, and the kids in the back seat smiling extra wide through both enjoyment and G-forces and the sound enveloping the occupants.

Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S.
A lot going on in here, but mild hybrid tech helps limit the thirst.

Even better, it isn’t a fuel-guzzling behemoth, either. OK, it isn’t a Prius, but it’s an AMG and with that comes a certain level of expectation – Merc claims 13.0l/100km, using things like cylinder deactivation to optimise each drop. Impressively, we managed around 13.3l/100km around town, and mid-12s on the highway. It’s also the mild hybrid system which an owner wouldn’t typically be aware of, but for the small “power-charge” bar graph indicator in the corner of the dash. That’s all I need to know it’s doing something, and that’s all we need to go into about it, too.

All the tech and safety afforded by a quarter-million dollar luxury SUV... and how could we forget the off-road mode?

Selecting the AMG race mode via the steering wheel rotary dial combined with full-throttle blasts will naturally increase that number - and also enjoyment.

Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S.
Mercedes-Benz interiors are flash, but AMGs add a bit more again.

The top-spec AMG GLE also gets a host of extras along for the ride that make the package oh-so more awesome: things like an ‘Energizing Package’ that offers presets for seat massaging, heating and music to set the mood and tone... or alter it. Heated cupholders, power closing doors, heater windscreen washers, plus AMG Active Ride Control that really puts the rode and handling package up there with Mercedes’ more cosseting classes, all while riding on centre-lock-nut 22-inch wheels.

This large, five-seat SUV offers almost anything and everything in the one package.

There’s a tricky rear limited-slip diff, which is probably more bragging/boring rights than something that’s actively, knowingly used, while all this is on top of the gear gifted to the GLE 300, 450, and AMD GLE 53 models, that include things like the AMG body, selectable AMG exhaust system (again, via a rotary dial), MBUX augmented reality, head-up display, ambient lighting, a huge panoramic sunroof that slides open (not always a given), and all the tech and safety afforded by a quarter-million dollar luxury SUV... and how could we forget the off-road mode, with auto and manually adjustable suspension.

Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S.
It's a high-performance machine, but a truly practical one as well.

Clearly, there is a lot to the Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S 4Matic+, besides its lettery name, and that’s what makes it such a complete package. With a big power tailgated boot, the large five-seat SUV offers almost anything and everything in the one package. It’s ideal for tootling around town, grand touring, entertaining the kids, via either the driving or the pair of USB-C ports and separate climate control in the rear, and offers supreme comfort and individualising, making it one of the ultimate luxury SUVs on sale.

That it coats it with a top layer of absolutely crushing performance puts it up on a whole other level, with economy that’s disproportionately better than a decadent vehicle like this should be: the usability of the cabin is high, and only needs a little familiarisation, keeping an array of actual buttons to manage often-used functions like climate control, volume and dialing up different drive modes. The large screens, controlled by either touching them, or via the remote commander near the shifter that falls to hand easily, it’s a good reminder that not every single thing needs to be controlled by a touchscreen. But then, if all elese fails, there’s the “Hey Mercedes” voice control that manages things like radio stations, climate control, seat heating and even massaging. I talked to this car almost more than any other car yet.

Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S.
GLE 63 S proves there's life in the petrol-V8 yet.

To be balanced, we must also mention the bad points – this isn’t a Mercedes ad, after all: but for our seven days and 1000km, it was not easy to find fault: the gearbox can be a little abrupt when moving away: there’s a slight dead spot, so you squeeze in a bit more and it comes alive with a rush and sometimes a thump. We’d probably blame the engine start-stop mode, which is easily deactivated by the button conveniently placed next to the start button. And the 12.3m turning circle is on the large side, making three-point turns for typical school drops a little tricky – also highlighting that the shifter can be slow to respond between forward and reverse: you must shift slow to shift fast.

As we said, small niggles barely worth a mention.

For the few who will be able to call this their own, we are very impressed and a little jealous. The AMG GLE 63 (to coin its abbreviated title) is a throwback to pre-Covid times when we still liked V8s, noise and buttons.

ENGINE: 4.0 twin-turbo V8 petrol POWER: 450kW/850Nm GEARBOX: 9-speed auto ECONOMY: 13.0l/100km 0-100KM/H: 3.9 secs PRICE: $254,900.

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