The range-topping Mercedes-AMG GLE63 Coupe made its world premiere tonight in Detroit, ahead of its arrival in Australia with the rest of the GLE Coupe range around August this year.
Stuttgart’s answer to the Bavarian BMW X6 M, the Mercedes-AMG GLE63 Coupe packs a familiar 5.5-litre biturbo V8 punch in two states of tune, both of which could arrive locally.
The range-topping GLE — the ‘regular’ non-AMG versions were revealed last month but also debut in the metal in Detroit — is a sportier take on the ML-Class which the company rather ambitiously pitches as being a higher-riding interpretation of a ‘four-door coupe’.
Given the surprising sales success of the BMW X6 — it has sold about 300,000 units globally since 2008 — Mercedes-Benz’s decision to create its own take on the concept makes sense. The Mercedes-AMG version also continues the rapid expansion of Benz’s Affalterbach-based tuning house yet further.
Under the bonnet of the beast sits a familiar powertrain, the individual hand-assembled and huffed 5461cc eight-cylinder from the ML63 AMG in “powerful” or “extra powerful” forms.
‘Regular’ AMG versions have 410kW at 5750rpm and 700Nm of torque between 1750-5500rpm, while the AMG S version has 430kW at 5500rpm and 760Nm between 1750-5250rpm. That perhaps makes it clear why Mercedes-AMG chose to premiere the car in the land of excess.
Both versions use a claimed 11.9L/100km on the combined cycle and top out at an electronically limited 250km/h. The regular version also dispatches the 0-100km/h sprint in 4.3 seconds, 0.1sec slower than the S.
As a reference point, the BMW X6 M has a smaller but equally potent 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8 with 423kW on tap between 6000 and 6500rpm, and 750Nm of torque between 2200 and 5000rpm.
Mercedes-Benz Australia says it is not yet sure if it will bring both or just the S, a la the E63 AMG. Buyers can also opt for a Performance Exhaust system if the regular AMG warble isn’t enough for you.
Power is directed to both axles via a 4Matic performance all-wheel-drive system with a transfer case that directs power between front and rear at a ratio of 40:60.
There is also speed-sensitive air suspension that lowers at higher speeds and has infinitely variable damping on each wheel (determined by steering angle, body, brake and accelerator sensors), and a system of active anti-roll bars on both axles to reduce roll angle mid-corner.
Naturally, drivers can change the damping system’s area of emphasis, along with throttle mapping, transmission calibration, steering resistance, ESC and 4Matic, via the Dynamic Select system that has modes that span from aggressive Sport Plus down to city-focused Comfort. There are also Slippery (for icy or gravel roads) and Individual (fully adjustable parameters) modes.
Power is channelled via a 7G-Tronic seven-ratio automatic gearbox. The M button also allows the driver to rely solely on the paddleshifters, and Mercedes says in this mode the transmission neither shifts independently on kick-down nor when bouncing on the rev limiter.
Fitted is an AMG-specific electric-assisted steering system with a variable ratio that adds weight at speed. Reining in the power are 390mm x 36mm front and 345mm x 26mm rear all-round ventilated and perforated brakes with silver calipers (painted red on the AMG S).
In terms of design, unique characteristics include the “A-wing” in the front apron (painted glossy black on the AMG S), two powerdomes in the bonnet and family radiator grille with twin louvres in silver chrome. LED headlights are standard. Mercedes points to a narrow tail-light design partially borrowed from the S-Class Coupe.
There are also mildly flared wheel arches housing 10-spoke light alloy 21-inch wheels shod in super-wide 285/45 profile rubber at the front and 325/40 at the back. On the AMG S, these wheels grow to 22 inches in diameter.
Inside the cabin are unique touches such as longitudinal-grain aluminium highlights, AMG sports seats in perforated nappa leather, a three-spoke performance steering wheel with a flat bottom (and, on the AMG S, microfibre grip points that must be a pain to use after eating a greasy burger), aluminium paddleshifters, and man-made leather (called Artico) instrument panel surrounds.
Ahead of the driver is a 4.4-inch digital multi-function display with features such as a race timer, gear-shift indicator and AMG start-up screen, as well as carbonfibre-look dials with red needles.
Standard equipment includes low-speed autonomous braking, electric tailgate, stainless steel AMG-badged sills, LED Intelligent Lighting System with auto high-beam, reversing camera, Crosswind Assist, heated seats and brushed stainless steel pedals.
Options in Europe and the US, but likely to be largely standard on the always better-equipped Australian versions, include radar-guided cruise control. Other tasty options that we're not sure will be standard locally include a carbonfibre engine cover and the Performance Exhaust.
“We see great potential in this vehicle segment, which is new to Mercedes-AMG,” says chairman of the board of management Tobias Moers.
“The GLE63 Coupe is the logical progression of our ambitious growth strategy — after all, in 1999 with the first high-performance SUV ML55 AMG, we established a completely new segment.
“The new GLE63 Coupe will inspire SUV fans focused on dynamics while at the same time representing a new interpretation of driving performance.”