The SUV has all but taken over the auto market over the last few years. With the addition of marques like Porsche, Maserati, Bentley, Lamborghini (excluding the LM002), and the AMG division of Mercedes, what was once a category that heavily emphasized the “U” part of the SUV acronym, has shifted focus to the “S,” and the Porsche Cayenne Turbo and the Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S are two premier examples.
Although Mercedes-Benz has been a player in the luxury SUV game for quite a while longer than Porsche, Porsche made quite the ripple in 2003 with the introduction of the Cayenne. An SUV that is sporty on the blacktop was an exciting concept for a lot of people, but Mercedes isn’t without a hit luxury SUV either.
The Mercedes-Benz GLE isn’t quite comparable to the Cayenne, but it has received a pile of praise as well. Now, consider giving it the AMG treatment and we’ve got a ball game. So, what are we to make of the newest iterations of these hot SUVs?
Porsche Cayenne Turbo S and Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S specs
The 2020 Porsche Cayenne’s 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 is making an impressive 541 hp and 567 lb-ft of torque, as reported by MotorTrend. Those are some pretty heavy numbers for an SUV that clocks in at 5,500 lbs. The Cayenne has all-wheel drive and sports an eight-speed automatic transmission. To further show that Porsche means business, it fitted the Cayenne with Pirelli P-Zeros, as reported by MotorTrend. The Porsche Cayenne, as tested, costs $158,460.
The AMG-powered Mercedes came correct in the power department. According to MotorTrend, the 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S also comes roaring from the factory with a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8, except AMG jammed a few more ponies and torques in there – 62 hp and 60-lb-ft extra, to be exact – bringing the total to a whopping 603 hp and 627 lb-ft of torque.
The GLE 63 S has all-wheel drive with a nine-speed transmission. There is also a 21-hp battery hybrid system that adds some snap to the V8 while also allowing it to shut down while cruising for eco-friendly efficiency. This model, as tested, runs at about $133,075.
On the road
The editors at MotorTrend ran both the Porsche Cayenne and the Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S through their paces up and down the Angles Crest Highway. Long straits and corners abound throughout this stretch of asphalt.
Jonny Liberman of Motortrend reports the GLE 63 S as, maybe predictably, “power and torque and then more power and more torque.” A slight discrepancy in hp would likely go unnoticed in 5,000-lb+ vehicles, but it would seem the 62-hp and 60-lb-ft torque addition is clearly felt in the AMG. The steering was reported to be of nice weight and feel, reminiscent of the Mercedes-AMG GT. The air suspension was highly praised for adjusting to counter body roll and road surface.
The two testers at MotorTrend reported some computer glitches resulting in the stability control kicking in unnecessarily in the corners and applying brakes as well as it needing a transmission recalibration. The auto transmission would downshift late and upshift early regardless of driving mode, as reported by the testers. The driving experience was summed up by features editor Christian Seabaugh when he said, “The Mercedes is technically capable but ultimately soulless.”
The Porsche Cayenne, on the other hand, seems to be a wholly different machine. Although light the testers didn’t seem to care all that much. The usual praise of Porsche handling is highlighted early.
“The ride is incongruously good, all the way up to Sport+,” roadtest editor Chris Walton said. Seabaugh quickly follows with, “It’s engaging, it challenges, it pushes you—it’s a Porsche through and through.”
This is all par for the Porsche course, but this language for a four-door SUV is high praise indeed. The testers also agreed that the Transmission feels like a PDK even though it isn’t — high praise, indeed.
It’s easy to only talk driving feel with marques like AMG and Porsche, but these are luxury SUVs after all.
The Mercedes AMG GLE 63 S is unsurprisingly reported to be the more well-equipped cabin between the two. Mercedes won out due to more attention to detail in button layout, real wood, a larger touchscreen, and two-tone beige and black leather.
The Porsche Cayenne button layout isn’t as neatly laid out, and the upholstery only comes in black leather. Although the infotainment screen isn’t as big as the Benz, MT did prefer the VW system to Mercedes’, but overall the Porsche still has a plenty comfortable cabin.
Porsche Cayenne Turbo and the Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S – the winner
The Porsche Cayenne and Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S both enjoy a long, prestigious history of both fast and luxurious cars. We have arrived at a point where both things can exist within a car without having to sacrifice much from either category. Although both vehicles have strong cases to be made, it is clear the Porsche is the German “S”UV victor.