This crazy slope-backed behemoth 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLE63 S Coupe demonstrates how before the great DaimlerChrysler divorce of 2007, the Chrysler team (specifically the SRT gang) managed to impart some wild-n-crazy fun to the stoic Swabians.
It wasn’t performance they shared—AMG’s first V-8-powered W124 E-Class Hammer made 360 horsepower in 1986, when Chrysler’s hottest turbo-fours and V-8s struggled to muster 175 horses. No, it’s all the screens and apps a driver can fiddle with and refer to when accelerating or lapping an AMG product that evinces that former bond. The only other cars that routinely offer this much digital fun when exercising a vehicle hard are Dodge/Jeep/Ram products breathed on by SRT.
For those less versed in the burgeoning Mercedes SUV lineup, what you see here in the 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLE63 S is the “coupe” version of the company’s second largest SUV. It’s available in a more practical square-backed version as well, and if you’re in love with the shape but don’t need quite 603 hp of twin-turbo V-8 oomph, it’s also available in AMG GLE53 trim. The latter model drops two cylinders and a turbo to make “only” 429 hp. The entry four- and six-cylinder GLEs are relegated to the square-box bodywork only.
How Quick Is the Mercedes-AMG GLE63 S Coupe?
The Germans are certainly into precision performance in their AMG lineup, so it’s no surprise our Coupe test vehicle, weighing just 7 pounds lighter than the last square-backed sibling we put on our scales, zoomed through the quarter mile trailing its AMG GLE63 S SUV sibling by only a tenth to 60 mph (3.5 versus 3.4 seconds). It then pulled ahead by a similar amount at 100 mph, and finally crossed the finish line in the same 11.9 seconds but traveling 1.2 mph faster (at 116.4 mph). That’s a statistical dead heat, especially given the fact the two examples were tested on tracks in different states at different times, though some might argue aerodynamics could be starting to give the coupe a slight edge at these speeds.
That’s slightly off the pace of the similarly priced and configured BMW X6 M, which turns a 14-hp surplus and 251-pound weight advantage into an 11.6-second, 119.5-mph pink-slip win at the dragstrip. For the record, the milder Mercedes-AMG GLE53 Coupe needs 4.7 seconds to hit 60 mph and runs a 13.3-second, 102.5-mph quarter-mile (probably with the SUV variant nipping at its heels).
How Quick Did the GLE63 S Coupe Think It Was?
With only a single vehicle to test and an hour of track-rental time to lavish on it, we took the opportunity to try out the Track Pace app pages that allow you to measure general acceleration. It reports time and distance to speeds in 30-mph increments, as well as the times and speeds to the 60-, 330-, 660-, 1,000-, and 1,320-foot (quarter mile) marks. After each run, a screen comes up indicating the ambient temperature and asking the driver to note conditions (sunny, cloudy, rainy, stormy, or snowy). The results then appear with the weather summary in the top corner (no SAE weather correction is applied). We snapped quick pics of the app results, as well as of our onboard laptop’s Vbox results page for each run. Here’s how the car’s onboard time-to-speed calculations (MB) compared with our raw independent Vbox data from the two runs:
Note the car interprets distance using its wheel-speed sensors while the Vbox derives distance based on its spatial relationship relative to seven or eight global positioning system satellites. Infinitesimal wheel spin, along with sidewall squish that could occur during a hard launch, conspires to introduce error in the car’s system, but in general the agreement with our raw Vbox times seems quite reasonable.
We did two more runs in Drag Race mode, and here is how the results compare:
Here it’s interesting to note the greatest error occurs when measuring time and speed to the shortest distance, where those wheel-slip and tire-squish issues might be greatest. Here again we’re generally impressed with this onboard timing system’s accuracy. The 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLE63 S Coupe’s Track Pace app features way more functionality than we had the time to explore, with the ability to store runs, recall runs saved to an SD card, and to measure braking (it reported the latter results in seconds and miles; we didn’t dig around to change the units so we’re not comparing those results). There are telemetry options, and track circuits can be measured and timed. That’s where these systems really come in handy: for trying different cornering lines and producing a best lap time. Frankly, it’s not really needed at the dragstrip, where a multitude of runs made in different modes with and without brake-torque were remarkably close in time.
How’s the Rest of the Vehicle?
Some MotorTrend staffers love the way the 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLE63 S Coupe looks, some hate it. Some resent the compromise to rear visibility and cargo space that comes from the swooping roofline; others reckon they seldom load any cargo into the area above the window line, anyway, so they wouldn’t miss the space that much.
Everyone agreed that these giant low-profile tires exact quite a penalty on ride quality, both in terms of smoothness and noise. There’s a ringing sound that penetrates the cabin when any of these big rollers clobber a bump. The engine’s passing power, however, is intoxicating, and the sound is enervating.
Conversely, we were bemused by the adaptive cruise control’s perceived need to slow from 80 to 72 mph before negotiating interstate highway bends that our Ram 2500 Cummins takes with ease at 80 mph. Here again, there may be a setting somewhere deep in the MBUX system to cancel or amend this, but it evaded our discovery during trips that consumed two tanks of fuel. We universally loved the driver seat’s massage function, which offers four different programs (some with heat) that really do provide meaningful relief of back pain or fatigue.
Is the Mercedes-AMG GLE63 S Coupe Worth the Money?
Our test vehicle’s $131,430 price included a lot of stuff we’d skip to get it closer to the $117,050 base price —like the fragrance dispenser (part of a $1,650 package) and the $4,550 worth of Burmester sound. The Burmester is nice, but you’ve paid to hear the engine, and the tires chime in so much it’s hard to fully appreciate that spend. We encourage folks smitten by this lozenge shape to take a long test drive in a GLE53, which starts at $77,550. Add the AMG Track Pace app suite for just $250 for endless fun measuring accel runs on the back roads. You’ll also want the $1,100 seat massagers, which can only be had with heated and cooled leather seating (minimum $3,890) plus a few more required doodads that bring the price to $83,140. That strikes us as a better fun-per-dollar price point.
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