The automotive world has whipped up plenty of mechanical chimeras over the years, but perhaps nothing has ever been quite so odd as the high-performance SUV coupe. The “sport-utility coupe,” which takes the “four-door coupe” body style and applies it to a high-riding crossover to create an odd-looking crossover tailored towards urbanites and suburbanites, seems highly anachronistic; after all, it’s taking a vehicle that literally has utility as its middle name and making it less utilitarian. Adding massive amounts of power and a sporty suspension…well, that just makes it even stranger.
The new Mercedes-AMG GLE63 S Coupe, the latest of the breed, still suffers from those odd proportions — exaggerated wheel arches, a pinched-off tail that makes the front look disproportionately massive — that afflict most of the group that’s unfortunately acronymized as “SUCs.” But while you can argue with the looks, you really can’t complain about the performance.
The newest addition to the AMG stable packs, like many AMGs, a twin-turbo 4.0-liter V8 beneath its hood. Here, however, it’s paired with Merc’s EQ Boost starter-generator and 48-volt on-board electrical system — which means this giant odd duck is technically a hybrid. It also, technically, makes 603 horsepower and 627 pound-feet of torque, plus an added 21 hp and 187 lb-ft from the hybrid setup. (Those figures don’t come at the same power peak as the engine, so you can’t simply add them to the gas engine’s output.)
That means that not only can this bulky brute launch control itself from 0 to 60 miles per hour in a claimed (and likely conservative) 3.7 seconds, it also should offer even more instantaneous power anywhere in the rev range than, say, the similar GLC63. (AMG’s ubiquitous nine-speed Speedshift automatic should make snapping off downshifts for sudden passing maneuvers a breeze, though.)
Like other AMG S models, it packs multiple drive modes that stretch from Comfort to Race; unlike, say, the GT63 S, however, the GLE63 S also offers two off-road modes: Trail, made for slippery, muddy conditions, and Sand, designed for loose surfaces. The latter also spurs the air suspension to push the SUV to its tallest body height; in road-biased driving modes, it drops the height down to bring the Merc’s mass closer to the ground, for better handling. Active dampers and an electronic limited-slip differential burnish the handling credentials, while giant brakes (15.7-in discs with six-piston calipers up front, 14.6-in discs and single-piston calipers out back) are there to haul the SUV to a stop.
Mercedes-Benz USA didn’t specify how much the GLE63 S Coupe costs, but given the price of the previous version, expect it to start around $115,000 when it goes on sale.
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