When the original Mercedes M-Class was first given the hi-po AMG treatment, the suits that be weren't entirely sure the world would embrace this new idea of performance.    

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Fast-forward more than two decades and 50% of AMG vehicles leaving dealerships are SUVs.     

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This trailblazer has hardly rested on its laurels at any point, and for the 2021 model year, things are shaping up to be as righteous as ever.    

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At the heart of the matter is a 4.0-liter, twin-turbocharged V8 producing 603 horsepower and 627 pound-feet of torque.   

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That power heads to all four wheels through a nine-speed automatic transmission, and sandwiched in the driveline is the same EQ Boost mild-hybrid system found on AMG's -53 models.    

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It can add up to 21 horsepower and 184 lb-ft, in addition to extending stop-start use.    

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The car wants to be driven hard as often as possible, and I found doing so very rewarding, but the fact that it's still serene at lower speeds highlights the hard work AMG's engineers undertook to ensure the GLE63 S is producing quality in every situation.

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It's easy to just give something 600 horsepower and call it a day while owners struggle to figure out what to do with all that power.     

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It's much harder, but far more rewarding, to create something that is perfectly fine to putt around in but immediately ready to jump into action at a moment's notice with a character shift that almost makes the SUV feel like two cars in one.      

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Keep scrolling or clicking to check out even more pictures of the 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLE63 S.

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