When it comes to big bruisers, they don’t come much bigger or more bruising than this, the new Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S Coupé.
It’s the flagship slashed-roof SUV from a brand well known for making a good off-roader or two, not to mention a few fast and fun road cars.
This one is powered by the same 5.5-litre twin-turbocharged V8 seen in the E-Class AMG, amongst others, but with tweaks to make it more immediately responsive in light of the car’s two-tonne-plus kerb weight.
You’ll either love it or loathe it, but we all said the same thing about the BMW X6, with which the GLE Coupé competes, and the Munich-based company can barely build X6s quickly enough.
You’ll certainly be seen coming in the GLE 63 S, with its huge front end and gaping grille vents, and even more so you’ll be seen leaving thanks to the striking boot style and the fact that the four exhausts do tend to shout a bit. If you want an SUV with presence, consider that box ticked.
Sleeker styling versus the five-door GLE comes at a cost, with much-reduced overall boot space and no real capacity to carry furniture or large appliances. Inside the cabin it’s pretty spacious thanks to the body’s imposing width, but you’d hardly want to use this as your practical daily driver if only because of the precious leathers at risk of permanent damage if an owner decides that he or she temporarily needs to use it as a van.
This version of the GLE Coupé is something of an expensive toy. It can carry a family of up to five with plenty of legroom but it’s really aimed at the driver; lifting them up and making them more visible. If you want to be seen (and/or heard) this isn’t a bad way to do it.
Four-wheel drive is standard and proves essential for managing the GLE ‘s weight. Tip it into a corner at speed on a neutral throttle and it doesn’t always co-operate, pushing the outside front wheel into understeer, but treat the accelerator with lead-footed contempt and it hooks up all four wheels and cannons itself around and out of the corner with a glorious bellow from the exhausts. The steering has a semblance of feel, too, which is a bonus unlooked- for.
The ride seems better than expected on the huge optional alloy wheels fitted to the test car, but since the tyres are so monstrously wide they can follow overbanding, white lines and bumps in the road, easing it off its line slightly. It isn’t completely stable under braking, either, but the accelerative wallop makes you forget that quickly enough.
Take a deep breath and count to £96,000. That’s where the pinnacle AMG version starts, and that’s getting into Porsche 911 GT3 territory. Completely different cars, of course, and you’d be a bit strange to be considering both simultaneously, but for fast car fans it puts the price into perspective. Image will be key to its value appeal. That and the bonkers engine.
The BMW X6 sells very well to sportspeople, especially footballers looking for style, presence and paparazzi- crushing potential. The AMG version of the GLE Coupé ticks all the right boxes and has novelty – and therefore scarcity – on its side. You can bet a few orders for X6s will be swapped over to Mercedes in the next couple of months.
Engine: 5.5-litre turbocharged V8 petrol producing 580bhp and 561lb/ft
Transmission: Seven-speed dual-clutch automatic driving all four wheels
Performance: Top speed 155mph, 0-62mph in 4.3 seconds
Economy: 23.7mpg combined
Emissions: 278g/km of CO2