2021 Mercedes-AMG GLE63 S Coupe review: Half-risen roof, full-fun drive

That tapered roofline adds style but doesn’t take away too much cargo space.

Craig Cole / Roadshow

The big wheels of the 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLE63 S Coupe, the tapered roofline and the well-done rear are sure to grab your attention. This is an undeniably trendy and high-style vehicle. But what’s hiding behind this swoopy SUV’s retro-inspired Pan-American grille is the real star of the show.

Like it

  • Comfortable and classy interior
  • First-class twin-turbo V8
  • Effortless acceleration

I do not like

  • Annoyingly wide door sills
  • MBUX complexity
  • Impatient brakes

Nestled between the front fenders of the GLE63 is a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8. Hand-assembled by artisans in Affalterbach, Germany, this gem of an engine is softer than creamy peanut butter, delivering 603 horsepower and 627 pounds of torque – more than enough to hurt rivals like the Audi RS Q8 is BMW X6 M. That’s also sauce enough to launch this 60 mph crossover coupe in just 3.7 seconds and forward to a terminal speed of 174 mph, though curiously, the GLE63 S doesn’t feel as fast as the numbers suggest. This Mercedes is so refined and quiet that it almost always goes at least 10 mph faster than you think, even when the active exhaust system is uncorked.

Helping deliver that performance is the automaker’s 48-volt EQ-Boost lightweight hybrid system, which delivers up to 21 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque. EQ-Boost also smooths out gear changes and helps with regenerative braking. The system’s integrated starter generator is sandwiched between the engine and the nine-speed transmission, where it takes up little space. The whole thing is practically invisible; the only time you’re truly aware of EQ-Boost is during engine stop-start events, which are some of the smoothest in the business.

That transmission shifts gears with sports car immediacy and is very responsive to the demands of paddle shifters. However, its performance can be somewhat erratic, particularly at low speeds where there is often a slight disconnect between the accelerator pedal and what the shifting is doing. Excessive vehicle brakes are also a bit annoying. With the front rotors measuring nearly 16 inches in diameter, their stopping power is undeniable, they are just a little too touchy in everyday driving.

Active roll stabilization along with adaptive damping, an air suspension and even active engine mounts are new additions for 2021, and together they keep the GLE63 S Coupe’s body flatter in Florida as it tackles corners. The suspension does a commendable job offering a good ride, although I’d like to hear a little more delineation between the various settings. Comfort is firm but pleasantly insulated, but taking it to Sport or Sport Plus doesn’t make the ride that much stiffer. You will definitely feel road imperfections, but they never hammer.

This engine is a true honey.

Craig Cole / Roadshow

The GLE63 S Coupe is well balanced and feels refined as a luxury car even at its most starved settings. Unfortunately, the steering is extraordinarily ordinary. It’s light and a bit inaccurate, which doesn’t help in a vehicle that doesn’t follow very well. This Mercedes tends to wander, even on smooth, straight pavement which means you need to make course corrections to avoid kissing the lines and irritating the lane keeping system. Roadshow social media editor Daniel Golson made the same comment in his review of similar but less powerful ones GLE53 Coupe from 2021, which also rolled on offset-width AMG wheels, although those in this example are 1 inch smaller in diameter, clocked at as soon as 21 inches.

Given its emphasis on sportiness, you can’t expect great fuel economy from this Mercedes. As a result, it applies to 15 miles per city gallon and 19mpg on the highway, however, in pretty heavy driving, I managed to average around 18.4, a whole lot better than the combined rating of 17mpg.

As a premium luxury vehicle, this Mercedes is equipped with a wide range of driver assistance technologies. Adaptive LED headlights with automatic high beams, active parking assistance and blind spot monitoring are all standard equipment. The $ 1,950 Driving Assistance Package Plus offers features like Active Lane Change, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Traffic Sign Recognition, and Adaptive Cruise Control with lane centering in the mix, and the latest element it works phenomenally. The adaptive cruise control of the GLE63 S Coupe is extremely smooth and more situationally aware than an undercover police officer. He apparently always knows what’s going on and how to respond, plus the lane centering feature is one of the best I’ve ever experienced, making the vehicle track pretty much like a monorail.

A couple of things could be improved, but this interior is a pleasant place no matter where you are.

Craig Cole / Roadshow

The interior of this Mercedes-AMG is a lovely place, full of premium leathers, straight laser stitching and no shortage of amenities including standard heated and ventilated front seats, as comfortable as a La-Z-Boy recliner. A Burmester sound system is also included, as is wireless phone charging and built-in navigation. Unfortunately, some of the interior elements of the GLE63 S Coupe are not as beautiful as they should be for a vehicle starting at $ 117,000. Nothing is insultingly low-cost, but the climate controls, shift selector and turn signal stems as well as some of the secondary switches don’t feel sturdy six-digit.

When it comes to interior tech, you get a pair of 12.3-inch displays mounted in a single housing that spans most of the dashboard. One of these screens acts as a reconfigurable digital instrument cluster, the other manages the infotainment functions. For better or for worse, the familiar MBUX multimedia array is how you interact with many of the vehicle’s features. This system is both cute and performant, although it’s not my favorite. It offers too many features and appears to require a keyboard and mouse to use properly which is not what you want while driving. Luckily, Apple CarPlay is Android Auto are standard and Mercedes hasn’t switched to annoying touch-sensitive control pads on the steering wheel like on some of its other vehicles, including the E450 All Terrain – at least not yet.

The Mercedes-AMG GLE63 S Coupe is very similar to a batch of dough that hasn’t risen. Next to the conventional GLE SUV, its roof is noticeably deflated. That tapered top adds visual pizzazz, though, it eats into the cargo space and rear seat height, but these deficits don’t ruin the vehicle, not even necessarily. Second row pumpkin space is reduced by 1.8 inches, but there’s still plenty of it, even for taller adults. Cargo space behind the aft bench reaches 27.5 cubic feet, which inflates to 63.2 cubic when folding the rear seat back down. In comparison, the GLE63 S serves 39.3 and 74.9 cubic feet, respectively. Judging between these two commercial vehicles is like comparing buns to baguettes, breads which are clearly different form factors but both are delicious.

Mercedes AMG GLE63 S Coupe from 2021

Unless you need as much cargo space as possible, the GLE63 S Coupe is a perfectly versatile utility vehicle.

Craig Cole / Roadshow

The base price of the 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLE63 S Coupe is around $ 117,000, approximately 40 thousand more compared to the less powerful GLE53 Coupe. As for this example, check out $ 131,430 including the required delivery fee, which amounts to $ 1,050. A few options round out the bottom line, things like that $ 1,950 driver assistance package, a head-up display ($ 1,100), the fancier Burmester High-End Surround Sound System ($ 4,550), and the Warmth and Comfort package ($ 1,050), to name a few.

With blazing performance, a comfortable and refined cabin, plus loads of style both inside and out, the crossover coupe is all-round and surprisingly livable. If you value style over capacity, go for the GLE63 S Coupé, but if versatility matters more, stick with the standard GLE SUV. Either way, you can’t go wrong.

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