► Loud, obnoxious, fast
► Surprisingly comfortable
► The kind of car eco activists damage
It’s fashionable for car folk to detest SUVs and especially silly farty ones that cost six-figures.
But this GLE 63 S is really quite something. Obviously it’s brash and obnoxious but in between the huge garish silhouette and those 22-inch wheels lies a car that’s truly good to drive and be in.
Really? Good to drive?
Yes, really. Obviously we’re not talking Lotus Evora svelteness but for a 2.5-tonne four-wheel drive monster it really shifts. I’d even go as far as saying it’s quite fun down a road you know. Assuming the road is pretty wide.
Steering is a little light, even its raciest mode. But dip it into an undulating corner and there’s enough feel to guide you round. The 48-volt active-roll suspension does its magic to make it feel positively un-boat-like.
Despite the four-wheel drive system the rear end does have a bit of leniency to it. A Porsche Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid and BMW X5M Competition feel a bit edgier and more extreme but the Merc is nicer to use day-to-day.
The brakes are strong. Although at moments require a much firmer shove than you were expecting.
The gearbox is a nine-speed auto that seems a little redundant on a car with 627-lb ft of torque if we’re being quite honest. Oddly even in Race Mode it doesn’t let you stop it auto shifting either.
It’s fast in a straight line too. According to the in-car timer (yep, in an SUV) we cracked a 0-60mph in 3.6 seconds.
The suspension is even bearable in Race Mode. And in Comfort it’s positively relaxing. The damping is lovely and very well suited to Britain’s multi-surfaced motorways.
Well, only a mild-hybrid. But Mercedes reckons it adds 22bhp and it also helps out with cylinder shut-off. So it can be a four-pot at motorway speeds or when you’re stuck in traffic.
It’s no Prius mind you. We averaged 18mpg on motorway journeys and around 15mpg on faster b-roads.
What’s the interior like?
It’s broadly like a GLE in here. The seating position is high up and commanding but the interior shrinks around you. From the driver’s seat you’re hemmed in in a comfortable way. This makes driving the car in tight streets easy. Visibility front, rear and side is good.
The infotainment is crisp, clean and easy to use. Obviously there are hundreds of menus the average driver won’t use. But still. Something to show off when you have passengers.
It uses Merc’s old system rather than the new one as found in the new C-Class and S-Class. The wrist-height touchpad can be difficult to use on the move. But otherwise, pretty good.
For such a large car the space in the rear is pretty woeful. We expect very few AMG drivers ever go anywhere five up, but the fact you simply can’t have three fully grown adults in the back of a car that’s more than two metres wide is maddening.
Mercedes-AMG GLE 63: verdict
As much as we say car enthusiasts loathe silly-fast-obnoxious-SUVs there are a host to choose from. And the GLE 63 S is the best.
The Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid and BMW X5M Competition are both almost definitely faster around a track. But they’re both less forgiving in day-to-day driving.
In short, the GLE 63 S is a six-figure V8 engined 4×4 that’s not really capable of going off-road or comfortably housing five adults. It’s excessive and we love it.