Merc adds acreage and punch to high-flying AMG GLS63

It seems as though the high-end SUV market sector knows no bounds, reports Iain Robertson, as Mercedes-Benz enters the fray with its latest, high-power, high-luxury semi-off-roader, providing seats for up to seven and technology in abundance.

Merc is joining the ‘big gob’ club that seems to have grown the radiator grilles of the latest German newcomers (mainly from BMW) in the new Mercedes-AMG GLS 63 4MATIC+, which signposts the vibrant potency of the firm’s Performance model. Together with its heavily contoured bonnet and the LED matrix headlamp display, the AMG addenda include a front apron with an integrated front splitter, silver chrome highlights and sporty side air inlets.

Flared wheel arches, side skirts and exterior mirror housings are painted in the vehicle colour, while the window surrounds are in high-gloss chrome. The newly designed, width-emphasising AMG rear apron, with a sporty diffuser, dominates the rear view in conjunction with the AMG exhaust system complete with twin rectangular, corrugated tailpipes. It is all a bit ‘teenagerish’ really.

The GLS 63 is shod as standard with huge 21.0-inch diameter, 10-spoke light-alloy wheels finished in dark grey, with a high-sheen finish. For further personalisation, six optional wheel variants, with diameters of up to 23.0-inches are also available, as long as you possess deep pockets. Powered by a 4.0-litre V8 biturbo petrol engine that develops a mildly scary 612bhp but also integrates an EQ Boost starter-alternator, the two-tonner can accelerate raucously from 0-60mph in a faintly ridiculous 3.9s, topping out at 155mph (or around 170mph with the optional AMG Driver’s package). CO2 emissions are posted at 273g/km. 

The 16kW (22bhp) ancillary electric unit supplies the 48-volt electrical system, with a boost function that provides extra assistance at low engine speeds. The big GLS 63 also meets higher dynamic expectations, thanks to its fully variable AMG Performance 4MATIC+ all-wheel drive, the AMG Speedshift (twin-clutch, automated) 9-speed gearbox and the AMG air suspension with active ride and roll stabilisation. There are no less than six driving modes that cater for all terrains and most environmental conditions.

The cabin of the latest GLS is truly spacious, displays phenomenal build quality and has plenty of space for up to seven occupants. The AMG ‘thing’ is supported with foot-pedals in brushed stainless steel with rubber studs, illuminated door sill panels with ‘AMG’ lettering, black floor mats carrying the logo and adjustable ambient lighting. High-quality materials for the dashboard and door beltlines in faux leather, plus high-gloss, anthracite coloured, limewood trim elements, accentuate the high-end ambience.

A ‘panoramic’ digital instrument and multi-media display dominate the dashboard. The AMG instrument cluster also carries a ‘race timer’ and the start-up menu has a choice of four display styles: Modern Classic, Sport, Discreet and AMG-specific Supersport. Supremely comfortable AMG seats for the driver and front passenger provide optimised support and are finished in black AMG Nappa hide as standard, although seven further colour and material choices are available. The front seats also feature a climate control and memory package. The second-row seats are heated as standard, which is available optionally for the third row.

FCD Summary

Due in early-2020, when its high prices will be announced, Merc is unabashed in describing its latest GLS as an ‘S-Class for the rough road set’ but it is also a high performer in the typical AMG style.

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