There are SUVs and then there are performance SUVs that are designed to take on not only any situation that Mother Nature can provide but also able to conquer any track on the planet. So it was for our test drive AMG GLE63; not only was it an overly capable SUV that would be willing and able to go pretty much anywhere, the track is where it would really excel.
In fact, the AMG is the certified record holder on the North Loop of the Nürburgring race track at just 7 minutes, 49 seconds, making it the fastest SUV in the world on the track. That is definitely a way to have bragging rights even if you never make it on a track with the GLE.
The SUV is completely set up to race, be it just running around the track or even a straight out drag race, with the S version coming in at a whopping 503 horsepower and 516 foot-pounds of torque. As we found during the week, we were never at a lack for power in the GLE, as it was very hard to use that kind of acceleration whenever we could.
With the biturbo setup that Mercedes is now including in many of their vehicles along with the 48-volt electrical system that puts an alternator starter between the engine and transmission, allowing for an extra boost in all electric power when starting, there is virtually no turbo lag.
We have experienced this system in other Mercedes vehicles and it is a pretty awesome way to get that little extra push when first accelerating and makes a huge difference. Also, with a 48-volt onboard system, powering different things is much easier and the wire is of a smaller gauge, taking away weight.
We found ourselves using the extra power pretty much every time we had to stop and go again. Just having it made us want to push the vehicle just a little. The GLE63 is very expressive from the outside but does not come across with the look of a real race SUV. It has more a sophisticated look that says, “I don’t’ care what you think, I am really fast!”
We had the opportunity on a beautiful Saturday in February to take a drive down into Sanpete County in the new Mercedes, even opting to have Craig’s mother, Pat Conover, along for the ride. With temperatures approaching the mid 50-degree mark, it seemed Mother Nature was calling for us to get out of the house and enjoy what she had to offer.
Of course, having a Mercedes to get out with made the decision much easier for us, and with the comfort that is included in the vehicle, it was a no-brainer. Pat was very impressed with the new “Hey, Mercedes” function and how she could use it to get her seat heated or even start the massage program.
In fact, we were all very impressed that this function could now tell the difference between the passenger asking or the driver, by putting the correct seat into massage mode for whichever one of us who asked.
As the SUV rides higher than a sedan, the view is better, but the drive feel is much the same as a sedan and with getting into tight spaces made very easy through the electromechanical steering system. This system was also speed sensitive and would adapt to how and where we were driving, giving very precise feedback to the driver.
It seemed that the engineers at Mercedes had thought of everything when it came to making the drive even better, with thing like a new adaptive damping system that would made every ride in the GLE as smooth as glass, connaturally monitoring and changing how the shock absorbers would work, effectively reducing roll and pitch no matter how we were driving.
The comfort inside the SUV was outstanding, with seats that would adjust every way possible. Along with heat and cooling up front, there was also heat in the back, which made Deanne super happy as she allowed Pat to be up front for our jaunt down into Sanpete.
The cabin was as quiet as a mouse on Sunday and was complimented with the Burmester sound system that would have tickled any audiophile’s fancy.
With the included driver assistance package, when we engaged the adaptive cruise control it would not only keep to the speed of the vehicle in front of us but would adapt to the speed limit signs we would encounter, lowering or increasing our speed. It would also adapt to the coming terrain and corners by decreasing our speed through the corners to the recommend limit and then increase it as we came out of the corner.
This was some awesome technology and worked really well, getting its prompts via signs and the navigation system — and it didn’t have to learn, as we figured this was the first time this particular Mercedes would have had a trip town through Sanpete County, and to traverse the canyons there and back.
For the week and over 300 miles, we averaged 14.6 miles per gallon, pretty much right where the EPA said it would be. And with us giving it a little extra gas more often than not, we figured it would go up some if it were our everyday driver after the newness wore off.
The GLE63 is what we would call a dream SUV capable of anything we could ever imagine. It would depend, however, if the owner wanted to submit the fine driving machine to some of the hostile elements we know it could conquer, as the price tag for this much speed and luxury was not cheap!
Base price: $113,950
Price as driven: $131,880