If you’re old enough, you might recall the good old Mercedes-Benz ML 55. It was 1999 and it was the top model in the M-Class range. It produced 255kW and had a V8 engine. Well, 22 years later and I am in the newest version of what that model was, although it is now known as a GLE. And this model is the Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S. And it is as potent as they come.
What has changed, however, is the fact that we now have all sorts of SUVs. It is no longer a boxy shape. The model I’ve been driving is the Coupé version which still has some purists up in arms. It’s as if manufacturers have run out of ideas…or they just have far too many ideas. Regardless, there is no denying the appeal of performance-version oddballs. Just look at the success of the BMW X6 M Competition, Audi RS Q8 or Porsche Cayenne Coupe. Even if they aren’t selling in droves, they remain aspirational icons.
BEAUTY IN THE EYE OF THE BEHOLDER
The GLE tends to offer a somewhat polarising design. You either love it or you hate it. I think it looks quite mean and when you have the power beneath you that this thing offers, mean is exactly what it should look like – if anything, it is distinct. Especially when it’s in black, which is what my test unit was. It rides on 22-inch wheels and while in Comfort mode, the drive is not too harsh. Basically, you could live with it on a day-to-day basis.
Look, this car is just under R3-million so I would expect to see every single feature that exists in the motoring world. But would you believe there are still options you can fit? Speaking of the price, if I were to pay that my car emitted even one rattle I would have a fit. It is unfortunate, but my test unit had more than one rattle.
The sound of the engine, however, is likely to drown any rattles out…when not in Comfort model, of course. The 4.0-litre V8 biturbo produces 450kW and an astounding 850Nm. It will get you to 100km/h in just 3.8-seconds. Bearing in mind that this car is 2.4-tonnes, you must know how quick that is. Needless to say this is one potent beast. You’ll need to have your wits about you when pushing this car because even if you think you’re confident in your driving skill set, this is a lot of power to control, especially when throwing it in to corners. But I guess, this is what makes it such a fantastically fun car to drive.