2021 Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 puts the personal back in ‘luxury coupe’
Casey Williams | Auto Reviewer
2021 Mercedes-AMG GLE 63S
5 passengers, AWD Crossover
Powertrain: 4.0-L TTV8, 9-spd trans
Output: 603 hp/627 lb.-ft.
Suspension f/r: Elect Ind/Ind
Wheels f/r: 22-inch/22-inch alloy
Brakes f/r: disc/disc
Must-have features: Style, Performance
Fuel economy: 15/19-MPG city/hwy
0-60 mph: 3.7s
Assembly: Vance, Ala.
Base price/As-tested: $116,000/134,00
After the muscle car era, automakers turned their attention to over-fluffed personal luxury coupes. Mercedes-Benz took an understated approach by putting E- and S-Class coupes against Continentals and Eldorados — until tastes and regulations killed them, too.
Now, proportions are changing again as personal luxury coupes, stoked with performance that would make 1960s icons blush, are more likely derived from crossovers and sport four-doors — just like the 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLE 63S.
Fortunately for us, the National Studebaker Museum in South Bend, Indiana was hosting a “Disco Era” autos display that included a Lincoln Mark IV, a Bricklin, a Firebird, a Mustang II and a Pontiac Grand Ville Convertible. The GLE 63 proved the perfect conveyance for my family and me to make a quick visit.
When slowpokes spot the AMG grille with vertical slats, angry lower facia with giant snorkels, and twin hood bumps from the classic 300SL gullwing, they tend to move in your favor. This car looks like it could chew up a Smart car and spit out its carcass. Check the quad headlamps with LED eyebrows, too. Moving from front to side, you see the muscular fenders swallowing 22-inch wheels and supporting a fastback roofline that looks more E-Class coupe than mid-size crossover. Quad exhausts and carbon fiber trim reaffirm this is an AMG.
Just because there isn’t a full-length roof doesn’t mean you have to scrimp on space.
Though cozier, it’s still a mid-size crossover with a very deep luggage compartment under that power rear hatch. Flip down the rear seats and toss in a bicycle — there’s plenty of space. It makes the gigantic Continental feel cramped. Four passengers travel in divine luxury.
Glossy carbon fiber and stitched leather grace the dash, doors and steering wheel. Leather and suede seats are heated/ventilated up front and heated in back and feature an array of massage functions that include hot stone for those in the penthouse. Front armrests are even heated.
Crank the Bermester High End Surround Sound system before settling beneath the power-opening panoramic sunroof. We’re way beyond the 8-track players and bench seats of past eras.
Devices connect via Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and wireless charging in the console.
Control infotainment via twin screens in the dash, via touch-sensitive pads on the steering wheel or via mouse-style touchpad in the console. I wish our vehicle had a head-up display like the last GLE 63 I drove, but we stayed safe with adaptive cruise, lane centering steering, active lane change assist and blind spot warning. Rear cross path detection and automatic emergency braking do their parts, too.
Unlike the malaise-era luxury coupes, this one can move out of its own way as the 4.0-liter biturbo V8 lays down 603 horsepower and 627 lb.-ft. of torque through a nine-speed automatic transmission. Mercedes’ 4MATIC all-wheel-drive and EQ Boost light hybrid system get you off the line smartly. Keep your courage to dispatch 0-60 mph in just 3.7 seconds.
Most owners won’t care, but fuel economy is rated an abysmal 15/19-MPG city/highway.
Buttons in the console and dials on the steering wheel transform the GLE’s behavior.
Steering, throttle response, exhaust tone and air suspension can be configured for touring or track assaults. We cruised in Comfort mode most of the time for a surprisingly compliant ride but clicked into Sport mode when the road turned curvy. How this big heavy crossover transforms from a luxury sedan to an Autobahn maestro is impressive. You can even raise it up for off-roading if that’s your idea of luxury.
I used to think crossover coupes were ridiculous, but after driving many hours to see luxury coupes of another era, I get it. It looks menacing, cossets four passengers in absolute luxury and lays waste to very serious performance cars.
It is today’s personal luxury car, but it comes at a price. The GLE 63S Coupe starts at $116,000, but came to an even loftier $134,000 as tested. If you can afford it, enjoy a blast through the current era.
Send comments to Casey at AutoCasey@aol.com; follow him on YouTube @AutoCasey.