What is it?
Mercedes-AMG has wholeheartedly embraced the growing trend for super-SUVs, busily introducing hot versions of everything from the GLA to the G-Class with varying levels of spice.
The performance division has already turned its hand to Mercedes' popular GLE large SUV with the GLE 53, which offers 429bhp from its mild-hybridised and turbocharged 3.0-litre straight-six petrol engine.
But with that machine facing ever more powerful premium rivals, ranging from the Audi RS Q8, BMW X5 M Competition and Porsche Cayenne Turbo up to the Aston Martin DBX and Bentley Bentayga Speed, AMG clearly felt there was room for something more… outlandish. Which is a pretty apy way to describe the new 604bhp GLE 63 S.
What's it like?
Given the expectations you might have of a super-size SUV packing supercar power, it’s perhaps surreal that the overriding initial impression of the GLE 63 S is how pliant and serene it is for a car of its considerable size. It's disarmingly quiet and smooth and, thanks to a raft of driver assistance systems and sensors, surprisingly easy to thread down even small streets.
If you're content to waft along in quiet contentment, you could easily forget this machine is produced in Affalterbach. Until, that is, you apply a bit of vigour to the throttle pedal and awaken AMG's monster biturbo V8.
This is the unit used in most of the performance brand's 63-badged range-toppers, although to cope with GLE's near-two-and-a-half tonne kerb weight, it has been armed with a 22bhp electric motor. That puts the output of the 63 S (the only version of the model offered in the UK) to 604bhp – enough to shift the GLE from 0-62mph in 3.0sec. That would be impressive enough for a sports car, but it just seems plain daft in a large luxury SUV.
In the real-world, one in which you won't regularly select the Sport+ driving mode or track-timing function, that mighty turn of pace allows for remarkably easy progress. The GLE 63 S can reach motorway cruising speed without breaking a sweat, and its vast reserves of torque means you will never struggle to shift the weighty chassis.
The AMG-tuned air suspension and adaptive damping offers an agreeably pliant ride (so long as you steer clear of the more aggressive driving modes), while high-performance composite brakes and anti-roll suspension help manage that weight through the corners.