Detroit Motor Show: Mercedes-AMG GLE 63

THIS – the Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 – is what will keep BMW X6M owners awake at night.

It’s taken six long years for a rival to the almighty BMW SUV to arrive but now the Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 has cut its German rival’s lunch with a 4.2sec 0-100km/h sprint. Accelerating two tonnes that rapidly calls for 430kW and 760Nm, making this the world’s most powerful SUV.

The GLE 63 coupe’s grunt comes from the same 5.5-litre twin-turbo V8 that was introduced to the AMG range in 2012. That replaced the naturally aspirated 6208cc V8 that was badged as a 6.3-litre and accounts for the ‘63’ in the name. While the S model packs the full 430kW – easily overshadowing the X6’s 408kW 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 – the base model GLE 63 makes do with 410kW. The stonking V8 is hooked up to a seven-speed automatic transmission that sends power to a rear-biased all-wheel-drive system.

As shown in Wheels spy images last year, the hunched-over GLE 63 is essentially the coupe version of the new M-Class. That range has had a name-change to GL, so think of the GL as the X5 rival, with the GLE the X6’s nemesis.

Hitting the muscular, bold X5 with the ugly stick to create the X6 worked for BMW, and while motoring journalists scoffed at the gawky styling and interior compromise of the BMW behemoth, the X6 quickly became a cash cow to vindicate Munich’s product planners.

Now the GLE 63 AMG packs an even bigger punch under an almost carbon-copy of the X6’s swooping rear roofline. The S model’s 22-inch alloys, front grille bling and buffed-up guards and bumpers scream for attention, but though it blatantly copies the BMW formula, the Mercedes has one crucial advantage – while the X6 is a 2+2, the GLE is a comfy five-seater. Making it even more cosseting, despite the huge wheels, air suspension is standard.

That gives the GLE a practical advantage over the X6, and makes it a strong competitor to the recently updated Porsche Cayenne.

The Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 will go on sale in Australia in spring 2015 and is expected to start from around $190,000.

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