After the muscle car era, automakers turned their attention to over-fluffed personal luxury coupes. Mercedes-Benz took an understated approach by putting E- and S-Class coupes against Continentals and Eldorados until tastes and regulations killed them too. Proportions are changing again as personal luxury coupes, stoked with performance that would blush 1960s icons, are more likely derived from crossovers and sport four doors…just like the 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S.
Fortunately for us, the National Studebaker Museum was hosting a “Disco Era” autos display that included the Lincoln Mark IV, AMC Pacer Bricklin, Pontiac Firebird, Ford Mustang II, and Pontiac Grand Ville Convertible – all swanky plushmobiles evocative of their era. The GLE 63 proved a rapid ride for my family to make a quick visit.
When slowpokes spot the AMG grille with vertical slats, angry lower facia with giant snorkels, and twin hood bumps from the classic 300SL gullwing, they tend to move in your favor. It looks like it could chew up a Smart car and spit out its carcass. Check the quad headlamps with LED eyebrows too. Moving from front to side, you see the muscular fenders swallowing 22-inch wheels and supporting a fastback roofline that looks more E-Class coupe than mid-size crossover. Quad exhausts and carbon fiber trim reaffirm this is an AMG.
Just because there isn’t a full-length roof doesn’t mean you have to pack like a pauper. Though cozier, it’s still a mid-size crossover with a very deep luggage compartment under that power rear hatch. Flip down the rear seats and toss in a bicycle – there’s plenty of space. It makes the gigantic Continental feel cramped. Four passengers travel divinely.
Glossy carbon fiber and stitched leather grace the dash, doors, and steering wheel. Leather and suede seats are heated/ventilated up front, heated in back, and feature an array of massage functions that include hot stone for those in the penthouse. Front armrests are even heated. Crank the Bermester High End Surround Sound system before settling beneath the power-opening panoramic sunroof. We’re way beyond the 8-track players and bench seats that once parked beneath split-level homes.
Devices connect via Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and wireless charging in the console. Control infotainment via twin screens in the dash, touch-sensitive pads on the steering wheel, or via mouse-style touchpad in the console. I wish our vehicle had a head-up display like the last GLE 63 I drove, but we stayed safe with adaptive cruise, lane centering steering, active lane change assist, and blind spot warning. Rear cross path detection and automatic emergency braking do their parts too.
Unlike the malaise era luxury coupes, this one has can move out of its own way as the 4.0-liter biturbo V8 lays down 603 horsepower and 627 lb.-ft. of torque through a nine-speed automatic transmission. Mercedes’ 4MATIC all-wheel-drive and EQ Boost light hybrid system gets you off the line smartly. Keep your courage to dispatch 0-60 mph in just 3.7 seconds. Most owners won’t care, but fuel economy is rated an abysmal 15/19-MPG city/highway.
While fuel economy belongs in the ‘70s, this car is considerably more sophisticated. With buttons in the console and dials on the steering wheel, steering, throttle response, exhaust tone, and air suspension can be configured for touring or track assaults. We cruised in Comfort mode most of the time for a surprisingly compliant ride, but clicked into Sport mode when the road turned curvy. How this big heavy crossover transforms from a luxury sedan to an Autobahn maestro is impressive. You can even raise it up for off-roading if that’s your kink.
I used to think crossover coupes were ridiculous, but after many hours on-road to see luxury coupes of another era, I get it. It looks menacing, cossets passengers, and lays waste to very serious performance cars. It is today’s ultimate personal luxury car, but comes at a price. The GLE 63 S Coupe starts at $116,000, but came to an even loftier $134,000 as tested. If you can afford it, enjoy a blast before this era passes.
Send comments to Casey at AutoCasey@aol.com; follow him on YouTube @AutoCasey.