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With the new Performance models based on the GLE, Mercedes-AMG is continuing a precisely 20 year-old tradition: in 1999 the ML55 as the progenitor based on the then M-Class was the top model in the range with its 255 kW (347 hp) V8 engine. The same applies to its current successor in the guise of the Mercedes-AMG GLE63 4MATIC+. The top-of-the-line performer of the model series is naturally taking to the starting line with state-of-the-art engine technology: the AMG 4.0-litre V8 biturbo engine generating 420 kW (571 hp) in the GLE model series and 450 kW (612 hp) in the S version is combined for the first time with the EQ Boost starter-alternator. This is accompanied by an additional electric output of 16 kW (22 hp), a 48-volt on-board electrical system, cylinder shut-off and petrol particulate filter for optimum efficiency. Furthermore, the fully variable all-wheel drive, the air suspension with adaptive damping adjustment and active roll stabilisation and the extremely fast-shifting TCT 9G transmission further move the limits of vehicle dynamics upwards. On top of this there are the advantages of a luxury SUV: good all-round visibility, plenty of space for passengers and luggage, high-quality materials and the brand's very latest driving assistance, infotainment and connectivity functions. Even more versatility is provided by the improved off-road capabilities with the two additional drive programs "Trail" and "Sand", as well as the variable vehicle level. This is where extreme sportiness, first-class off-road characteristics and absolute day-to-day suitability come together.
"With our new GLE Performance models we are transforming a 20-year tradition into the future. For the first time we are electrifying our well-proven 4.0-litre V8 biturbo engine with an EQ Boost starter-alternator and a 48-volt on-board electrical system. As such we are embarking on another new chapter of our drive technology, which we are also successively extending further to other model series as we move towards electrification and hybridisation. With our new premium SUVs, our customers can look forward to an unrivalled package of Driving Performance, high day-to-day suitability, optimum traction on practically all surfaces and also comfort on long journeys with high levels of efficiency," says Tobias Moers, Chairman of the Board of Management of Mercedes-AMG GmbH.
With the EQ Boost starter-alternator for the first time: the AMG 4.0-litre V8 biturbo engine
The 4.0-litre V8 biturbo engine in the new GLE63 is fitted for the first time in both output variants (420 kW/571 hp and 450 kW/612 hp) with an integrated EQ Boost starter-alternator. It combines a starter motor and an alternator in a single, powerful electric motor and is integrated between the engine and the transmission to save space. The additional 16 kW (22 hp) of output plus 250 Nm of torque which can be called upon temporarily, does not only enable more spontaneous moving-off characteristics. This is because moreover, this innovative component supplies the 48-volt on-board electrical system, is used as a power generator and also performs hybrid functions. These include boost, recuperate, load point shift, gliding and the virtually imperceptible restarting of the engine with the start/stop function. For the first time, the EQ Boost starter-alternator is also responsible for idle speed control. This allows fuel savings that were previously reserved for high-voltage hybrid technology.
The AMG 4.0-litre V8 engine works with the well-proven twin turbocharging, where the two exhaust-gas turbochargers are arranged not on the exterior, but between the cylinder banks. The advantages of the "hot inside V" are the compact engine design and the immediate response of the exhaust-gas turbochargers. These are implemented using twin-scroll technology to make optimum use of the exhaust gas flow and improve the response even further.
Spray-guided direct petrol injection with piezo injectors, the all-aluminium crankcase, the four-valve-per-cylinder design with camshaft adjustment, air-water charge air cooling, alternator management, the ECO start/stop function and the gliding mode have all been retained.
Improved efficiency: the intelligent AMG Cylinder Management
For increased efficiency, Mercedes-AMG has also equipped the V8 engines with cylinder shut-off. In the partial-load range, cylinders two, three, five and eight are deactivated, which crucially reduces the fuel consumption. When the driver has selected the "Comfort" drive program, the cylinder deactivation system is available in the wide engine speed range from 1000 to 3250 rpm. A special display in the instrument cluster indicates whether the cylinder deactivation system is in use and whether the engine is presently operating in four or eight-cylinder mode. The transition between these two operating states is immediate, fast and torque-neutral, so the passengers do not have to relinquish any comfort.
In the most powerful AMG GT S variant, the eight-cylinder has active engine mounts. They resolve the conflicting aims of achieving as soft a connection as possible to the powertrain for high comfort, and as rigid a connection as possible for optimum driving dynamics, by steplessly and quickly adapting their rigidity to the respective driving conditions.
For heightened sportiness: air suspension with continuously adjustable damping
The standard AMG RIDE CONTROL+ air suspension and the adaptively adjustable ADS+ (Adaptive Damping System) configured for the characteristics of an SUV combine outstanding agility and excellent vehicle dynamics with maximum traction and superb day-to-day comfort. The damping characteristics can be preselected in three stages - "Comfort", "Sport" and "Sport+", allowing a much more obvious distinction between high long-distance comfort and sporty vehicle dynamics.
Thanks to pneumatic self-levelling, the new GLE63 4MATIC+ maintains a constant ride height regardless of the vehicle load. This can be adjusted depending on the driving mode, or manually using a rocker switch in the centre console. The vehicle level is generally lowered by 10 mm in the AMG DYNAMIC SELECT drive programs "Sport", "Sport+" and "RACE" (S variant only). In the "Comfort" driving mode, the vehicle is lowered by 10 mm from a speed of 120 km/h, and raised back to normal level when the speed falls below 70 km/h. This reduces aerodynamic drag and therefore fuel consumption. In addition, handling stability is improved thanks to a lower centre of gravity.
In the drive programs "Trail" and "Sand", the suspension is raised by 55 mm to increase ground clearance on poor surfaces, and automatically lowered to normal level when the speed reaches 70 km/h. This function can also be controlled using the rocker switch.
Agile and precise: AMG ACTIVE RIDE CONTROL roll stabilisation
The AMG-specific configuration for high vehicle dynamics is greatly assisted by the active roll stabilisation system ACTIVE RIDE CONTROL on a 48-volt basis. This precisely compensates for body movements. This ensures that even in sporty situations near the limits, the handling remains precisely controllable and extremely direct. The system uses two independently operating, electromechanical actuators at the front and rear axles, each with an integrated planetary gear. This means that the stabilisation system not only reduces body roll when cornering, but also allows more precise tuning of the cornering and load cycle properties. In addition, it increases ride comfort when driving in a straight line because stimuli by one-sided road bumps are balanced out, for example. Body movements can be actively and optimally adapted to the driving status, which intensifies the driving experience.
Another benefit compared with the usual hydraulic-based systems is the significantly faster response. The AMG control system can adapt the driving status to the conditions within milliseconds. There is also the low weight of the components compared with the usual solutions.
AMG Performance 4MATIC+ all-wheel drive with fully variable torque distribution
The performance-oriented all-wheel drive system continuously ensures the best possible ratio of dynamism, traction and efficiency. An electromechanically controlled clutch connects the permanently driven rear axle variably to the front axle. The best possible torque split is continuously computed according to the driving conditions and driver's input. The transition from rear-wheel to all-wheel drive and vice versa is seamless, as the intelligent control is integrated into the overall vehicle system architecture. Alongside traction and lateral dynamics, the all-wheel drive also improves the longitudinal dynamics for even more powerful acceleration. The influencing factors for torque distribution are not only the driving speed, the lateral and longitudinal acceleration and the steering angle, but also the difference in rotational speed between the individual wheels and the gear selected.
The all-wheel drive is controlled depending on the selected stage of the 3-stage Electronic Stability Program ESP® - from sporty with a focus on safety to highly dynamic. The 4ETS dynamic handling control system further enhances handling safety and agility, in particular on slippery surfaces or on surfaces with different friction coefficients. It uses brake interventions to keep individual driven wheels from spinning when starting off or accelerating. At the same time the differential locking effect enables the drive torque to be shifted to the wheels that are not spinning.
More traction and dynamism: the locking differential
To further improve traction and dynamism, the GLE63 and GLE63 S have an electronically controlled locking differential at the rear axle as standard. The slip is thus suppressed at the inner wheel on bends, ensuring optimum grip and maximum handling safety. The driver is therefore able to accelerate out of corners earlier and with more power thanks to the improved traction. The vehicle remains more stable when braking from high speed, while the limited-slip differential also improves traction when accelerating from a standstill.
Direct and immediate: AMG speed-sensitive sports steering
The electromechanical speed-sensitive power steering has a variable ratio. It impresses with its precise feedback thanks to the AMG-specific rack-and-pinion steering with a variable ratio. The steering assistance is assigned to the various stages of the AMG DYNAMICS system. The configuration in "Basic" and "Advanced" is comfort-oriented. In "Pro" and "Master", a configuration is programmed that supports a sporty driving style and ensures more road feedback.
Good control and fade-resistant: the AMG high-performance braking systems
In line with the high output values and their associated performance, the new GLE63 models have a large-dimensioned high-performance brake system with 6-piston fixed brake callipers and 400 x 38 mm brake discs at the front, plus single-piston floating brake callipers and 370 x 32 mm discs at the rear. The S variant is characterised by red brake callipers, while the base variant has grey brake callipers.
As an option a high-performance ceramic brake system with bronze-coloured 6-piston fixed callipers at the front and single-piston floating brake callipers at the rear can be ordered, saving weight compared with the compound discs and thus reducing the unsprung masses. Further advantages are their high overall and fading stability under high stress. The brake system also scores highly with a long operating life and particularly fast responses.
Fast and agile: the AMG SPEEDSHIFT TCT 9G transmission
The AMG SPEEDSHIFT TCT 9G transmission is specially tuned to the requirements of the eight-cylinder engine in the GLE63. The systematic further development of hardware and software has made it possible to further optimise the reaction times. This means that automatic and manual shift commands can be implemented more quickly than ever before. Various reinforcement measures also ensure durability and performance with the high torque generated by the V8 engine. A wet start-off clutch is used rather than a torque converter. This saves weight, reduces inertia and thus optimises responsiveness.
The extensively tailored software enables extremely short shift times and fast multiple downshifts and delivers an especially emotive gearshifting experience thanks to the double-declutching function. Gear changes are performed with no interruption in tractive power. Dynamic acceleration and very short shift times are just as available as a fuel-efficient driving style - depending on the selected mode.
Highlights of the transmission:
Driving pleasure to the power of seven: AMG DYNAMIC SELECT and AMG DYNAMICS
The seven DYNAMIC SELECT drive programs Comfort, Sport, Sport+, Individual, RACE (S variant only), Trail and Sand allow a very varied driving experience with a wide spread between maximum comfort and agile sportiness. The modes modify key parameters, such as the response of the engine, transmission, suspension and steering.
The drive modes are linked to the AMG DYNAMICS agility control, which means that the handling characteristics can be even more closely matched with different requirements and driving conditions. Behind the umbrella term AMG DYNAMICS are the agility functions "Basic", "Advanced", "Pro" and "Master", whose functions are automatically selected by the respective drive program. Additionally there are the "Traction" and "Slide" levels in the off-road "Trail" and "Sand" drive programs when the ESP® is deactivated.
Parameters relevant to driving, such as the response of the engine and suspension or the control thresholds of the completely redeveloped ESP®, are intelligently adapted according to the drive program. The spectrum ranges from extremely safety-oriented to highly dynamic. The "Master" mode stored in the RACE drive program ensures optimum agility and brings out the high driving dynamics potential to optimum effect - for example through higher yaw rates and a faster response from the accelerator pedal, gearshift system, rear axle steering, electronically controlled rear axle locking differential or brake force distribution of the all-wheel drive system.
Irrespective of the drive program, the driver can use the buttons in the centre console or the steering wheel buttons to directly select manual transmission mode, the favoured suspension level and also the exhaust system, for instance.
Exterior design - muscular and distinctive
The design idiom of the exterior embodies sheer energy and Performance Luxury. The AMG-specific radiator grille with vertical louvres reaffirms membership of the AMG model family, while the dynamic arrow-shape of the front section with its smaller angle of approach emphasises the distinctive proportions. As a typical feature of the Performance models, the front apron in a dynamic jet-wing design is painted in the vehicle colour and has black air intakes. Imposing powerdomes in the bonnet and the front splitter in silver chrome emphasise the sharper all-round design.
The side skirts, exterior mirror housings and flared wheel arches are painted in the vehicle colour, and seamlessly blend into the muscular overall look. Different wheel/tyre combinations cover all on and off-road requirements. The base model is shod with 20-inch light-alloy wheels with AMG lettering as standard, while the S variant comes with 21-inch wheels ex-factory. Other wheel variants with diameters from 21 to 22 inches are optionally available.
The newly designed rear apron with AMG-specific details such as a striking diffuser and a trim strip in silver shadow visually accentuate the vehicle's width. The special AMG exhaust system with two rectangular twin tailpipe trim elements (with characteristic corrugation for the GLE63 S) and the roof edge spoiler round off the sporty look.
Further individualisation options are available in the AMG Night package. This includes heat-insulating, dark-tinted windows and also the front splitter, front and rear apron trim, inserts in the side skirts, mirror caps and window frames in dignified black. Plus the twin tailpipe trim elements are finished in black chrome.
Interior design - progressive elegance and robust ambience
The high-quality interior is characterised by a systematically sporty ambience with a dynamic and exclusive touch. The standard AMG seats are upholstered in nappa leather, provide optimum lateral support and have an AMG-specific seat pattern layout with an "AMG" badge in the front backrests. Other leather variants are optionally available. Individually adjustable ambient lighting comes as standard. The second seat row is optionally available with full electric adjustment.
AMG-specific interior appointments and controls lend the cockpit a hallmark AMG atmosphere and support sporty, precise handling. The latest generation, three-spoke AMG Performance steering wheel with aluminium shift paddles impresses with its optimum driver-oriented ergonomics. In the base model the steering wheel rim is lined in black nappa leather, and in the S variant in nappa leather/DINAMICA microfibre, in each case with a black 12-o'clock marking. Further options include AMG steering wheel buttons for particularly fast operation of dynamically relevant parameters.
The centre console has an AMG-specific control panel with additional switches with which the 3-stage ESP®, manual transmission mode, the adaptive damping adjustment, the optional AMG Performance exhaust system and the suspension level can be controlled.
Alongside the AMG brushed stainless steel sports pedals with rubber studs, door sill panels and black floor mats with "AMG" lettering accentuate the sporty look. A wide range of high-quality interior trim elements is available for further individualisation of the interior. AMG trim elements in carbon fibre lend a particularly sporty touch to the interior.
With AMG-specific displays: the MBUX infotainment system
The innovative MBUX control and display concept in the new Performance SUVs creates an even closer bond between the vehicle, driver and passengers. At the same time, the latest version of the infotainment system contributes to the great day-to-day practicality. Emotive displays such as the particularly striking Supersport mode with a central rev counter and 3D-look scales lend visual depth to the instrument and accentuate the exclusivity.
Whether it's operated with the touchpad, Touch Control buttons on the steering wheel, by voice control or gesture control: the control concept is both versatile and flexible. Thanks to the innovative voice control - activated with the keyword "Hey Mercedes" - the AI software recognises and understands practically all commands common in infotainment and vehicle control - even when spoken indirectly.
With the four AMG-specific display styles "Modern Classic", "Sporty", "Discreet" or "Supersport", the vehicle functions are directly visualised on the instrument cluster on the left side and on the touchscreen display on the right. Visually, the two displays under one shared glass cover blend into a Widescreen Cockpit and as a central element consequently emphasise the horizontal orientation of the interior design.
In the "Supersport" mode, there is also extensive additional information specific to AMG, such as a prompt borrowed from motorsport to shift up in manual transmission mode. Via the AMG menu, the driver can call up various special displays:
The newly designed visualisations in the multimedia display enable further vehicle functions to be experienced even better, e.g. with an animated presentation of the driving assistance, vehicle and communication systems, and the drive programs. When the AMG-specific DYNAMIC SELECT drive programs "Trail" and "Sand" are activated, off-road-specific settings such as gradient, incline and differential lock can be selected and displayed in the media display.
Increased comfort is assured by the optional ENERGIZING package Plus. It bundles many of the premium equipment items and includes multi-contour seats for driver and front passenger, seat climate control for driver and front passenger (with seat heating and seat ventilation), the Warmth Comfort package, the AIR-BALANCE package (fragrancing, ionisation and cleaning the air) and six ENERGIZING Comfort programmes as well as the ENERGIZING COACH for intelligent pre-selection of ENERGIZING Comfort programmes that suit the driving situation and the driver's condition. Also on board: the ambient lighting with program-specific lighting moods.
Comfort and support while driving: something for all purposes
The optional Driving Assistance package supports the driver on a situational basis, with speed adaptation, steering, lane changes and even when there is a risk of collision. Components include Active Distance Assist DISTRONIC, Active Speed Limit Assist, extended automatic restart on motorways, speed adjustment based on the route with End of Tailback Function, Active Steering Assist, Active Lane Change Assist, Active Emergency Stop Assist, Emergency Lane Function; Active Brake Assist, Cornering and Cross-Traffic Function, End of Tailback Emergency Brake Function, Evasive Steering Assist; Active Lane Keeping Assist, Active Blind Spot Assist, Exit Warning Function; PRE-SAFE® PLUS and Traffic Sign Assist.
The Driving Assistance package Plus offers an exceptionally high level of comfort and safety. It additionally includes Active Stop-and-Go Assist, which provides support when driving in traffic, while in the event of a side collision, PRE-SAFE® Impulse Side can offer additional protection.