NEW YORK -- Mercedes-Benz quick addition of models to its Mercedes-AMG brand announced last year now includes the GLE63, a new SUV taking the stage at the 2015 New York auto show. This new model combines a powerful V-8 engine with handling tech designed to keep this big vehicle flat in the turns.
Under the hood sits a hand-built twin-turbo 5.5-liter V-8 engine, producing 550 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque, with acceleration from zero to 60 mph at 4.3 seconds. If that isn't enough, Mercedes-Benz will also offer an S model, bring horsepower up to 577 and torque to 561 pound-feet, shaving a tenth off the 60 mph acceleration time.
As a high-performance model, the GLE63 will come standard in high trim, featuring a full suite of cabin electronics such as navigation, app integration and hands-free phone system. The example on the New York auto show floor included a Bang & Olufsen audio system, with that company's signature acoustic lens speakers mounted on the A pillars. The Bang & Olufsen audio system is likely to be an option.
A five-passenger SUV, you would expect the GLE63 to be unwieldy, but Mercedes-Benz has taken measures to mitigate its weight and high center of gravity. A new air suspension design makes for individual damper control at all four wheels. All-wheel-drive comes standard with the GLE63, making for active torque distribution between front and rear axles, which should also help handling.
Mercedes-Benz's secret weapon for the GLE63 is its new Active Curve System, using active stabilizer bars to counteract roll in the corners, serving to keep all tires in full contact with the road.
The driver can choose between Comfort, Sport and Sport Plus settings using a dial on the console, and also individually set the suspension between Sport and Sport Plus models. Paddles on the steering wheel let the driver sequentially choose gears.
The Mercedes-AMG GLE63 will go head-to-head with the BMW X5 M when it hits production later this year. BMW enjoys a solid reputation as a high-performance brand, where most people think of luxury when considering a Mercedes-Benz. With the GLE63's performance tech and engine, it should make for an exhilarating ride and be an interesting alternative to the BMW. The GLE63 will certainly offer more passenger and cargo room than a typical sports car.