There’s a whole lot of sport in this coupe

Published: Monday, February 29, 2016   English | العربية  

AMG Motorsport technology catapults the new Mercedes-Benz GLE 63S 4MATIC Coupe? to the first row on the starting grid,as Irwin B Fletcher discovered when he got behind the wheel.

What happens when a group of engineers in Germany decide to combine a Mercedes- Benz GLE Sport Utility Vehicle that has all the practicality one would want for contemporary day-to-day life, with an adrenaline-filled red-line-reaching authentic sports car like the AMG GT S?

The answer is simple – albeit, neither short nor easy to say - you get the Mercedes-Benz AMG GLE 63S 4MATIC Coupe? and it takes you longer to trip the name off the tip of your tongue than it does to go from zero to 100 kilometres per hour (kph)! Moreover, drivers and passengers alike can relish in the highly stylish and modern SUV that has absolutely zero tolerance for modesty.

For now, take a break from reading and have a look at the photos on the pages of this car review. Go ahead, take your time. Isn’t this coupe? wonderful? Did you feel your heart rate increase?

The GLE 63S’s aggression is subtly understated compared to many of its competitors in the same market segment. Despite the snorts and grumblings of traditional naysayers, the GLE 63S is a bit of a looker, wouldn’t you agree?

Skimming through the spec sheet, every number associated with the GLE 63S is really big. It is 4,900mm long. 2,129mm wide. It has 22-inch tyres, which are 12 inches wide on the back. A 5.5-litre V8 engine produces 585 horsepower. It has not one, but two turbo-chargers helping you reach an estimated top speed of 250 kph.

The only small number is 4.2. Which is how many seconds it takes to go from zero to 100kph. All together, it’s extremely impressive, but more on all of these points later.

Visually, from behind, which coincidently is from where most other drivers will be seeing this beauty, you’ll find the arched rear window with tapered columns just above the horizontally stretching taillights.

If you squint just a little you can vaguely discern the first half of design inspiration - the AMG GT S. The exterior cabin lines (that bring to mind the S-Class coupe?) transverse smoothly up and over the back to the contoured front end.

The iconic front sports grille is placed between the delicately styled LED headlights with their distinctive ‘eyebrow’ look. And if you put these features into a package that has the designated ‘S’ tagged onto the end of it, you’ll get to add those enormous 22- inch Continental ContiSportContact tyres I mentioned earlier, which get tucked into the masculine chassis haunches for even more contoured tenacity.

Thanks to the curviness of the bodylines, this car does appear smaller than it actually is. The 28mm height reduction on the roofline, compared to the GLE, makes for a fastback look while not sacrificing space inside the cabin. Moreover, the GLE 63S Coupe? is 81mm longer than the GLE - on which half of it is based - and 68mm wider, giving it that sporty, racetrack stance.

But that’s all in appearance. When motoring around town the 5.5-litre, twin-turbo V8 rumbled low and defiantly, making everything else on the road a bit smaller and slower.

The power was noticeable at every green light or in the passing lane on the highway, regardless of which of the five drive settings I had chosen.

Highway cruising was superb. A quick flick of one of the steering-wheel mounted levers initiates a slew of complementing safety and assistance systems that help to relieve driver stress out on the open road.

DISTRONIC PLUS with steering assist, not only helps to keep you a safe distance from the car in front when the cruise control is engaged, it also keeps you in the middle of your lane by automatically implementing minor steering wheel corrections.

Somewhere outside Al Ain, I turned off the comfortable three lanes of asphalt that we’re all accustomed to, pausing for only a moment to initiate the air-ride system, which raised the GLE 63S slightly higher for better ground clearance over the rough terrain.

The GLE 63S is certainly not a vehicle for an afternoon of ridge-running or dune-bashing - there are other Mercedes-Benz models far better suited for those types of activities. But, if you need to make your way over rough gatch tracks for a short period of time, then it certainly is capable of that kind of task.

Returning to the highway and lowered back down, it was clear that the ‘utility’, and obviously the ‘vehicle’ portions, of the SUV acronym were still intact. Which left only one - the ‘sport’ segment - to be explored. The engine up to this point was never in doubt. In fact, it did not have the new 4.0-litre which has been on other models I’ve driven. The GLE 63S owned the far more impressive and grown-up 5.5-litre that practically drips with behemoth testosterone, allowing it to crank out more than enough torque at 560lb-ft.

At low revs around town, the GLE 63S accelerated so effortlessly it was hard to believe that there was nearly 2,200 kilograms of vehicle at your fingertips. So, when we took it to the Yas Marina Drag Strip and added more revs and throttle into the mix, the drama that was created made onlookers swoon, especially when the reverberating grumble turned to a gnarly and deafening roar off the start line.

The internal ‘catapult’ launched us down the track, accelerating from zero to 100kph in a quick 4.2 seconds, which is only 0.4 seconds slower than the GT S that we put through the paces at Yas Marina Circuit for our September issue. We crossed the quarter mile in 12.7 seconds and braked to slow down before we ran into the sand pit at the end of the run.

Trackwise, the front tyres - a set of 285/40-22s - are the same width as you’d find on the back end of a Chevrolet Corvette. The rear tyres of the GLE 63S are wider yet with a set of 325/35-22s.

With 585 horse-power being dispersed to this much traction area of the aforementioned Continental tyres, the only thing you can do is marvel at the quickness and be astonished that with this much rubber on the ground and race- inspired handling, the ride is still Mercedes- Benz plush.

Returning to Al Ain from Abu Dhabi, a long day of driving certainly began to take its toll on me. I wasn’t tired or uncomfortable, just overwhelmed at everything the GLE 63S could do. The massaging front seat, available on both driver and passenger sides, certainly helped ease the tension.

To utilise every feature of this SUV you would have to drive it for at least an entire week, because it doesn’t let you in on its ‘secrets’ right away! But one thing’s for sure - the world of SUVs has been advanced to a new level with the arrival of the GLE 63S 4MATIC Coupe?... and that’s no secret!

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