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Future models - Mercedes-Benz - GLE Coupe - AMG 63

Detroit show: AMG joins Mercedes GLE Coupe range

Niche warfare: BMW's forthcoming X6 M now has an arch rival in the form of the twin-turbocharged AMG GLE63 Coupe and almost identical performance.

Mercedes takes the fight to BMW X6 M with hot, high-riding AMG GLE63

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Mercedes-Benz logo12 Jan 2015

By DANIEL GARDNER

MERCEDES-BENZ has confirmed a fire-breathing AMG-badged option would be included in its recently announced GLE Coupe range, taking the fight to the high-performance end of BMW's new X6 line-up.

While the rest of the range goes after BMW's equivalent sloped-back variants, the newest twin-turbocharged V8 AMG version is also coming to Australia and has the next-gen M-Powered top-performing flagship in its sights.

With up to a whopping 430kW and 760Nm of torque, the Mercedes-AMG GLE63 S drags to 100km/h neck and neck with BMW's new X6 M in a sportscar-like 4.2 seconds.

In top-performing S-Model guise, the Merc's 5.5-litre V8 churns out seven more kilowatts and 10 extra Newton meters of torque compared with the high-riding BMW's smaller 4.4-litre engine of the same configuration.

The Mercedes rival does win in the efficiency stakes though, using 11.1 litres of petrol per 100km versus the 11.9 litres consumed by the new GLE.

A second GLE63 option winds the turbo-taps back a little, dropping the S from its name and the power output to 410/700Nm at a cost of 0.1 seconds added to the time taken accelerating to 100km/h.

Mercedes' AMG Speedshift Plus 7G-Tronic automatic transmission sends power to the road via the 4Matic four-wheel drive system with switchable Dynamic Select driving modes for varying terrain and surfaces.

Gear changes can be left up to the seven-speed transmission program in fully automatic modes or taken care of by the driver using the steering wheel paddles.

In the most involving setting the transmission will not kick-down or change gear even when at maximum engine speed, allowing the driver to utilise all of the engine's characteristics.

Power transmission is biased to the rear wheels for the most rewarding handling with more torque sent to the front end if rear-wheel grip is compromised during both on- and off-road conditions.

AMG Ride Control self-leveling air suspension increases the tall SUV's stability and safety, reducing body-roll, while enhancing transverse dynamics and driving pleasure, says the German car-maker.

A switchable setting is also incorporated in to the suspension system with a normal Comfort mode for day-to-day driving, while Sport Plus allows a firmer ride to be selected for more enthusiastic progress.

Even without commands from the driver, the GLE63 adapts its suspension according to driving conditions, lowering the ride height at higher speeds to reduce drag and increase stability, and dampeners are continuously adjusted as the driving style changes.

Monstrous 390mm front and 345mm drilled brake rotors slow the big SUV with silver painted (red for the S-Model) and AMG branded callipers.

AMG versions of the GLE are characterised from the front by the trademark 'A-wing' vent arrangement in the front bumper and LED headlights.

Its flared wheel arches house 10-spoke 21-inch wheels (or 22-inch for S-Models), slender tail-lights similar to the S-Class coupe highlight the back end, a boot spoiler provides downforce at speed, its rear apron is given a diffuser and fins, while V8 Biturbo badges complete the look.

Quad exhaust tailpipes are not just for show says Mercedes, and the four squared tips emit the AMG sound, which can be enhanced further still with the fitment of the optional performance exhaust system.

As a flagship Mercedes variant, both versions of the GLE 63 get lavishly appointed interiors with perforated Nappa leather covering the sports seats with contrasting stitching and AMG badging.

The three-spoke flat-bottomed sports steering wheel is clad in more nappa leather with synthetic suede Dinamica covering half of the upgraded S-Model wheel.

Synthetic leather covers the dashboard and instrument cluster.

Stepping up to the faster GLE 63 S adds red highlighting to the instruments, higher-grade leather and contrasting grey seatbelts.

Options include cabin sound taken care of by either hi-fi authorities Harman Kardon or Bang & Olufsen, Distronic Plus adaptive cruise control, heated and cooled front seats, and a range of carbon-fibre trims including an engine cover.

Below the newly announced AMG variants, Mercedes offers the GLE Coupe in entry level GLE350 V6 diesel, GLE400 turbo V6 petrol or GLE450 AMG with an uprated version of the base diesel engine.

The first GLE Coupe variants including the flagship AMG and AMG S-Model will arrive on Australian soil during the third quarter of this year.

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