You are here
£96,830 when new
I try to approach every car with an open mind, but I was happy to make an exception for this one. First thing, AMG’s hyper-powered versions of Mercedes’s big SUVs have never had much finesse, and fast lorries aren’t my thing. Secondly, the whole idea of a sport-utility coupe is in any case clearly an assault on good sense. Like a pair of high-heeled trainers… but people buy them too. And yet by the end of my time with it, the AMG GLE63 Coupe had gone a long way towards melting my prejudices. The GLE Coupe – available as a Mercedes-Benz with more moderate engines as well as this high-test Mercedes-AMG version – turns out to be a bit of a looker. Certainly much sweeter than the GLE on which it’s based. The Coupe has Mercedes’ new generation of soft, flowing surfaces, so it dodges the angry-mastiff aggression of the BMW X6. From the back, the arched window, tapering pillars, strong haunches and horizontal tail lights bring to mind the S-Class coupe and even, if you employ a squint, the AMG GT. It manages to look smaller than it is. This particular car’s optional 22-inch wheels also confuse the sense of scale. The front cabin is lushly furnished, and in the back there’s enough room for grown-ups, plus the boot is huge. So the ‘utility’ part of the SUV acronym survives intact. What about the ‘sport’? Well the engine is never in doubt. Downsizing be damned – this twin-turbo V8 isn’t AMG’s new 4.0-litre but the more senior 5.5 job, because it has more torque. Certainly age hasn’t withered it. It’s vastly effective and alluring. This S model makes 577bhp and 560lb ft of torque (there’s also a slightly less nutty non-S version in some markets but not the UK). At low revs, it’s so effortless you’d struggle to believe 2,275kg is involved. Add more revs and throttle travel into the drama, and it flings you down the runway with the authority of a quartet of Rolls-Royce Trents. This is a fabulous car for overtaking. Your high viewpoint gives you an early advantage in peering over verges and hedges to check the next straight. When you get there, the immense traction allows you to put a wheel on the dusty edge of the road as you squirt past. Mind you, be aware that if the engine is switched to Sport mode or the transmission to manual, gearshifts are accompanied by a bellicose explosive popping from the exhaust. Not only are you suddenly filling that Micra driver’s windscreen with your vast back bumper, you’re probably making him think he’s on the wrong end of a firing squad.