Thanks in part to a Lamborghini Urus-derived powertrain, the Audi RS Q8 is a genuinely quick luxury SUV. But if you’re looking for premium SUVs that accelerate like sports cars, Mercedes-AMG also has some options. For example, the Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S. But which is the one to get? YouTube team Throttle House decided to find out.
The 2021 Audi RS Q8 and 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S have brawn…
Saying the 2021 Audi RS Q8 has an ‘Urus engine’ isn’t really a stretch. Under the Audi’s hood is a 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V8, the same engine the Urus has. Though admittedly the RS Q8’s engine is a bit detuned compared to the Lamborghini version.
Still, with 591 hp and 590 lb-ft, standard all-wheel drive, and an 8-speed automatic, the Audi RS Q8 isn’t exactly slow. Officially, Audi claims it goes 0-60 mph in 3.8 seconds. However, MotorTrend estimates the real time is closer to 3.5 seconds.
But the 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S maybe even faster. Like the RS Q8, it has a 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V8. And like the Audi, it comes with a mild-hybrid system. However, while the RS Q8’s mild-hybrid system runs accessories and smooths the start-stop function, the GLE 63 S’s system also adds performance, Car and Driver reports.
On its own, the Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S’s V8 makes 603 hp and 627 lb-ft. But the 48-volt starter-generator can add up to 21 hp and 184 lb-ft during take-off, MT explains. Combined with standard AWD and a 9-speed automatic, the GLE 63 S goes 0-60 mph in 3.4 seconds, Car and Driver reports.
The Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S’s mild-hybrid system also powers the active anti-roll bars, though it doesn’t offer the standard model’s optional ‘bounce mode.’ However, both the Audi RS Q8 and the Mercedes come with height-adjustable air suspension and rear-wheel steering, The Drive reports. The GLE 63 S, though, one-ups the Audi with active engine mounts.
…as well as bling
Both the 2021 Audi RS Q8 and 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S cost comfortably in the 6-figure range. The RS Q8 starts at $114,500; the GLE 63 S starts at $113,950. And both SUVs offer luxury features befitting their price tags.
For example, both models come standard with leather upholstery, navigation, a WiFi hotspot, and multiple digital displays, Car and Driver reports. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard on both as well. But if you want ADAS features beyond blind-spot monitoring and automatic emergency braking, they cost extra.
Both the Audi RS Q8 and Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S come standard with heated and ventilated front seats. But only the GLE offers heated and cooled front cupholders as standard. However, unlike the Mercedes, the RS Q8 comes standard with a built-in tollbooth transponder. The GLE 63 S’s navigation, though, can be ordered with extra augmented-reality functions.
The Audi RS Q8 and Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S look at high-performance luxury differently
In terms of build quality, the 2021 Audi RS Q8 and 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S are fairly equal. The interior material quality is excellent, and both SUVs’ infotainment systems work well, Roadshow reports. Throttle House found the Audi’s system to be slightly more intuitive, though, and its seats slightly comfier. But the GLE 63 S’s larger dimensions give it more rear cargo space, Automobile reports.
However, it’s when the pace picks up that the Audi RS Q8 and Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S start to differentiate themselves. The RS Q8’s engine and transmission work smoothly, and the SUV handles surprisingly well given its dimensions, Roadshow reports. But it’s almost too subtle to be truly sporty.
In contrast, the GLE 63 S feels almost like a big hot hatch, Automobile reports. Its steering is sharper and offers more feedback than the Audi’s steering, Throttle House reports. And the SUV’s handling is almost car-like, which is a good thing. Plus, its exhaust delivers a richer, more exciting sound than the one in the RS Q8. Between the two, it’s the more exciting luxury performance SUV.
The handling prowess, though, comes at a price. The Audi RS Q8’s interior is quieter, and its ride isn’t quite as stiff or harsh. Both SUVs can serve as comfortable commuters, but the Audi has a slight edge in that regard.
Which is the one to buy?
You can’t really go wrong with either the 2021 Audi RS Q8 or 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S. Whether you’re dropping miles on the highway or exploring a backcountry road, they can both tackle such duties.
As such, choosing between them is largely a matter of personal preference. The AMG is more raucous and rides a bit more stiffly. The RS Q8, meanwhile, is more subdued and understated. If you want an SUV that focuses more on comfortable luxury, Throttle House recommends the Audi. But if you’re OK with the slight drawbacks, the GLE 63 S offers a bit more fun.
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