By on October 28, 2021


2021 Mercedes-Benz AMG GLE S Coupe AWD Fast Facts

4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 with electric generator starter boost (gas engine 603 horsepower @ 5,750-6,500 rpm; generator up to 21 hp/184 lb-ft of torque; gas engine 627 lb-ft @ 2,500-4,500 rpm)

Nine-speed automatic transmission, all-wheel drive

15 city / 19 highway / 17 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)

16.3 city / 12.8 highway / 14.7 combined. (NRCan Rating, L/100km)

Base Price: $116,000 (U.S) / $135,300 (Canada)

As Tested: $134,000 (U.S.) / $160,400 (Canada)

Prices include $1,050 destination charge in the United States and N/A for freight, PDI, and A/C tax in Canada and, because of cross-border equipment differences, can’t be directly compared.

I’ve long struggled to understand the existence of four-door hatchbacks that are called “coupes” (to me, a coupe has two, not four, doors), have sloping rooflines, and are typically sold by import luxury brands.

I struggle a lot less when one is hopped up on the vehicular version of steroids.

Earlier this year, the local press fleet sent me a 2021 Mercedes-Benz AMG GLE 63 S Coupe – what a mouthful of a name – and I was a bit confounded by its reason to exist. There isn’t one, just like with the Durango Hellcat, I suppose. Yet, like with the Hellcat, its on-road behavior makes a convincing case.

It also proved surprisingly adept at helping a relative move, though its utility is limited by that same sloping roofline. But I digress.

The eye-popping numbers on offer from the 4.0-liter, twin-turbo V8 are, well, ridiculous. Yup, that’s 603 horsepower and 627 lb-ft of torque lurking. As you might imagine, passing and merging aren’t exactly chores.


We also have on hand a nine-speed automatic transmission that actually seems to work as advertised, and (mostly) without rough shifts.

One might worry that a relatively tall four-door “coupe” would suffer when it comes to handling, but while the GLE 63 exhibits some body roll, it’s mostly muted, and the AMG air suspension with adaptive damping bends the laws of physics a fair bit. If you want true sports-car handling, shop elsewhere, but if you want a luxury SUV that can keep you entertained whilst traversing the suburbs, the GLE 63 will work for you.

Unfortunately, even the AMG treatment doesn’t keep the steering from feeling more than a little artificial. I find myself writing that a lot these days, concerning vehicles across the price spectrum, because it is apparently difficult for automakers to make electronic steering systems feel natural. Even with a performance subbrand like AMG working on it. The good news is that the GLE 63 isn’t the worst offender, by far, and the steering being on the light side makes commuting a bit easier.

It’s fast in a straight line, it sounds cool, it can haul a bunch of moving boxes – what else is life with the GLE like? Well, I’d be remiss if I didn’t talk about the interior, which is a mixed bag. I like Mercedes’ digital cockpit in general – the gauges look cool and are easy to read. I’m less impressed by the steering-wheel controls – the learning curve is just a bit too steep. Yes, this is somewhat of a car-reviewer problem, since owners would eventually learn the controls, but it’s annoying nonetheless.

Mercedes-Benz/Tim Healey

It’s not the small mouse-pad-like controllers on the wheel that gave me agita, they’re easy to use. It’s the constant menu diving and the fact that some basic controls don’t seem obvious at first glance. On the more positive side of the ledger, I liked the switch for the drive modes, which is mounted on the wheel and easy to see and manipulate quickly while reducing the amount of time your eyes are taken off the road.

I also appreciated the feel of the soft Dinamica material on my hands while driving.

What I didn’t appreciate, or rather had a tough time wrapping my noggin around, was the price. The base price – the MSRP needed just to get in the door, so to speak – is $116,000. Even accounting for all the AMG goodies – the twin-turbo V8, the AMG suspension, the electronic limited-slip differential, and the drive-mode system – the number pops the eyes.

Mercedes-Benz/Tim Healey

You do get Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, keyless entry, the dual 12.3-inch screens for infotainment and gauges, navigation, Burmeister audio, satellite radio, ambient lighting, heated and cooled front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, wireless charging, panoramic roof, attention assist, active-brake assist, blind-spot assist, LED lighting, and adaptive high-beam assist. Carbon-fiber trim cost $1,750 and the Nappa leather seats another $250, with those charges being wrapped into the base sticker.

Options included a $1,500 carbon-fiber engine cover, $400 for the performance steering wheel, $2,000 (!) for the 22-inch carbon-fiber wheels, and $1,950 for a driver-assistance package containing most of today’s common electronic safety-assistance features. For $1,050, the heated front seats got heated more rapidly and the armrests and door panels also heated up (that’s, uh, unnecessary?). Another $1,650 added massaging seats and $750 added a front splitter and other exterior appearance bits. $1,100 added more sound deadening and $4,550 (you read that right) added an even higher-end version of the Burmeister audio system.

With the $1,050 destination fee, the charge was $134,000. Yikes.

You also will pay at the pump, often, thanks to EPA-estimated numbers of 15 mpg city/19 mpg highway/17 mpg combined.

On the one hand, the high sticker price sort of makes sense – AMG’s signature doesn’t come cheap, and the AMG touch makes the GLE 63 a fun-to-drive ute that can be docile when driven gently. Not to mention there’s plenty of Mercedes’ luxury, and if one is judicious with the option box, one can keep the price close to base.

Mercedes-Benz/Tim Healey

On the other hand, as well put together as the package is, the price seems hard to justify, even given the luxury features. On yet the other hand, neither luxury nor performance cars are usually a rational purchase. They’re toys and/or status symbols and/or rolling houses of pampering, and are priced as such.

That said, this Mercedes is a bit odd, thanks to its styling and “coupe” designation, and it’s also delightful.

Just make sure your checking account has more than a few zeroes behind it.

What’s New for 2021

The 2021 Mercedes-Benz AMG GLE 63 S Coupe (man I am tired of typing that) is redesigned, adding power and new technology features.

Who Should Buy It

The overpaid techno fetishist with a need for speed.

[Images © 2021 Tim Healey/TTAC]

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29 Comments on “2021 Mercedes-Benz AMG GLE 63 S Coupe Review – Delightfully Odd...”

  • avatar

    Somehow these seem to be the go to status symbol in my city, especially in the part of town where the average income is probably 1/4 the base price of this.

  • avatar

    “As Tested: $134,000”

    At that price a car has got to be more then “Delightfully Odd”

    Oh, wait, Mercedes is offering 2.9% for 168 months? Well, lets talk

    I actually have kind of a weakness for these fast, stout little German crossovers, but that’s just one of those things that aren’t ever going to happen

  • avatar
    Rick T.

    I’m baffled why somebody would pick this with the sloped back end over a more squared off one. It looks awful and certainly less useful.

  • avatar

    Not for me, especially at this price. I’d be intrigued by the one with two fewer cylinders and a usable roofline, although at this point in my life I really need a third row.

  • avatar

    “The eye-popping numbers on offer from the 4.0-liter, twin-turbo V8 are, well, ridiculous. Yup, that’s 603 horsepower and 627 lb-ft of torque lurking.”

    Well that part is awesome but the rest of it is awful.

  • avatar
    Undead Zed

    I still think these sporty crossovers with low roofs and tight suspension are a silly endeavor. And at this price point, the only people who can afford it are gonna set the suspension to max comfort and never use more than 1/4 throttle.

  • avatar

    These cars are quite common in California among the “look at me, I’m rich” group. They are usually seen in places like Newport Beach, Bel-Air and Beverly Hills, frequently driven by “ladies who lunch”. In 3 years, when the outrageous lease is up, they are returned to swap for another big business write off. When they are 6 years old they can be purchased for about $40K, so your payment, repair bills and gas bills are EACH about $700/month. They are most frequently driven in heavy traffic and rarely haul anything more than groceries.

    • 0 avatar

      “frequently driven by “ladies who lunch”

      I hope they are vaccinated.

    • 0 avatar

      I bought a 2012 ML 63 AMG for 33K in 2019. It is loaded with options including the performance package that puts out 550 horsepower. It had 72K miles on it, was in flawless like new condition and maintained scrupulously by a LA intellectual property lawyer. The interior is Dakota brown leather with natural ash wood. I love it. So yeah 6-7 years is the target, if you can find a good one….

  • avatar

    “What I didn’t appreciate, or rather had a tough time wrapping my noggin around, was the price.’

    That goes back to the old saying, “If you ask the price, you can’t afford it.”

  • avatar

    Ugly as sin. Perfect for the marque chasing bored housewife in Newport Beach or New Haven who’s husband can lease this thing and get her off his back for $950 / month. That interior makes me dizzy and ill. What happened to beauty and elegance? 2 years after the lease ends these things will be at the ubiquitous BHPH lots East Colfax in 2025. That’s in Denver for you east coast types.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    A Model Y Performance is slightly quicker 0-60 and in the 1/4-mile, stops sooner, and costs half as much.

    The extra $65k for the M-B badge must be worth it.

  • avatar

    All I see is a dog crapping.

  • avatar

    These seemed to be the default rich a-hole vehicle in Europe, which makes sense to me because in a sea of little MQBs this draws the attention that six figures ought to.

    In our sea of three row everythings driving in the shadows of 7′ tall trucks yet another middling mommy mobile pretty well disappears no matter how brightly they paint the brake covers.

    Make it two feet longer and they’d be on to something.

  • avatar

    High on the “Odd” list must be the brutalist front end, presumably borrowed from the Mercedes truck division.
    The steady deterioration of the front clip styling over the past two decades from the fine fluted grilles and floating tri-star to the crude industrial clunkiness offered today seems to be the visible sign of M-B’s choice to provide huge gobs of power in a thrusting, threatening package.
    Very sad.

  • avatar

    Is this vehicle even available? I thought M-B stopped shipping the AMG V8 to North America.

  • avatar

    Delightfully odd and next level ugly.

  • avatar

    Worth noting: you can get the same engine and chassis in the non-coupe GLE.

    Personally, if I were in the market for a gonzo SUV, I’d skip all these ugly-a** Benzes and pick up a Durango SRT or Hellcat.

  • avatar

    The reason we have to pay 6 figures for 603 horsepower and 627 lb. ft of torque, is that if you are going to rape the earth like that, you at least have to pay a high price of admission.

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