It’s no secret that Mercedes-AMG is dabbling in the world of electrification, and the first result of this endeavour is the latest GLE 63 4Matic+, which makes its debut just over a year after the cooking V167 model was revealed. Like the 53 version, it too comes with the EQ Boost mild hybrid system, but here it’s strapped to a bigger, much more monstrous engine.

That engine is Affalterbach’s tried and tested M177 4.0 litre twin-turbocharged V8, in a specification lifted from the E 63. As standard, it makes 571 PS from 5,750 to 6,500 rpm and 750 Nm of torque between 2,250 and 5,000 rpm, which by itself is enough to get the SUV from zero to 100 km/h in four seconds flat.

But of course, that’s not the full story, because you can also get your GLE 63 in spicy S configuration, bumping the outputs up to a searing 612 PS and 850 Nm from 2,500 to 4,500 rpm. So equipped, this hulking leviathan accelerates in an almost comical fashion, reaching 100 km/h in a ridiculous 3.8 seconds. Both models get a nine-speed AMG Speedshift TCT 9G automatic transmission.

Also standard on both models is a 48-volt integrated starter-generator, which throws in an additional 22 PS and 250 Nm of temporary boost under acceleration; it can also recuperate kinetic energy, allow the car to coast with the engine off and smoothen the automatic engine start/stop function. For the first time, the electric motor also helps with idle speed control, further saving fuel.

Even with this and cylinder deactivation, however, the GLE 63 is no Toyota Prius, with fuel consumption rated at 11.4 litres per 100 km (11.5 for the GLE 63 S) on the combined NEDC cycle. Carbon dioxide emissions, meanwhile, is quoted at 261 grams per kilometre for the standard model and 262 for the S.

Power is sent to all four wheels via the AMG Performance 4Matic+ all-wheel drive system, which is usually rear-driven but can send torque variably to the front axle. There’s also an electronic locking rear differential as well as the Electronic Traction System (4ETS) torque vectoring by braking. The AMG speed-sensitive sports steering has Basic, Advanced, Pro and Master settings, delivering progressively more feedback.

As standard, the GLE 63 comes with AMG Ride Control+ air suspension with the Adaptive Damping System (ADS+), which drops the height by 10 mm at speeds of over 120 km/h (permanently in Sport, Sport+ and the S-only Race modes) and raises it by 55 mm in Trail and Sand modes. There’s also the 48-volt AMG Active Ride Control roll stabilisation, which the company says responds quicker than a hydraulic setup.

Design-wise, the GLE 63 carries over all the usual AMG hallmarks, including the trapezoidal Panamericana grille, a jet-wing design for the massive front air intakes and a large rear diffuser with the obligatory quad tailpipes. The alloy wheel options measure between 20 and 22 inches in diameter and hide composite brakes with six-piston front callipers (carbon ceramic discs optional).

Inside, you get AMG seats upholstered in Nappa leather, as is the three-spoke AMG Performance steering wheel with aluminium paddle shifters (with Dinamica microfibre grips on the S model). You also get alloy pedals, AMG-branded side sill plates and floor mats, along with options that include carbon fibre decorative trim and additional steering wheel controls for quick access to performance-related settings.

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