There’s no shortage of fast SUVs and crossovers, especially from Mercedes. In fact, the German automaker’s AMG crossovers have been so successful, they’re pushing out some of the sedans. And even if they’re not electric, the larger crossovers are quicker than many expect. The 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLS 63, for example, is a 7-seat crossover that can out-pace sports cars.
2021 Mercedes-AMG GLS 63 specs
Unlike the previous-gen, the 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLS 63 is a mild hybrid, the first in AMG’s history. Though admittedly, the integrated-starter motor attached to the engine doesn’t add much performance, Car and Driver reports. It does produce 21 hp and 184 lb-ft, but only to fill in gaps in the gasoline engine’s powerband.
Said engine is the star of the GLS 63 AMG’s performance. The crossover comes with a 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V8, making 603 hp and 627 lb-ft. Together with the standard all-wheel drive and 9-speed automatic, it lets the 5927-lb crossover go 0-60 in 3.6 seconds. In Car and Driver’s testing, the Mercedes-AMG GLS 63 also ran the ¼-mile in 12 seconds.
The C7 Chevy Corvette, in comparison, went 0-60 in 3.9 seconds and finished the ¼-mile in 12.2 seconds. It may have made about 140 hp less, but it was also about 1500 lbs lighter.
To be fair, part of that performance does come from the mild hybrid system, Motor1 reports. The ISG also powers the turbochargers’ electric compressors to reduce turbo lag. That’s on top of powering the GLS 63 AMG’s A/C, water pump, power steering pump, active anti-roll bars, and electrical accessories, Motor Trend reports.
The active anti-roll bars aren’t the only AMG-specific features. The AWD and transmission are also upgraded over the standard model, Automobile reports. So are the brakes and active air suspension. The crossover also comes with a limited-slip rear differential.
The GLS 63 AMG is about more than just acceleration
Speed isn’t the only thing the 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLS 63 offers. It’s a true 7-seat luxury crossover, with 3rd-row seats large enough for adults, Autoblog reports. It comes standard with dual 12.3” digital displays for the infotainment and gauge cluster. Navigation, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto are standard, as is a 4G WiFi hotspot and wireless charging pad. And you can control many of the crossover’s features with gesture or voice control.
The front-facing cameras can project road signs onto the optional heads-up display. Automatic emergency braking and lane-keeping assist are both standard features. Both the front and 2nd-row seats are heated; the cupholders are heated and cooled. You can also equip the GLS 63 AMG’s rear seats with heating, cooling, and massaging, as well as wireless charging. And of course, there’s plenty of high-quality leather, wood, and metal, though the optional carbon-fiber trim is a little tacky.
The 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLS 63 is also surprisingly capable handling-wise, both on- and off-road. The active anti-roll bars, plus the adjustable suspension, mean the crossover corners with minimal body roll. Drivers may be surprised at how much speed they can pick up in this almost-3-ton crossover. And in Comfort Mode, the ride is truly comfortable.
But it’s best to skip the optional larger wheels, Roadshow reports, as they introduce unwanted noise and ride harshness. And driving the GLS too quickly can make the brakes overheat.
While the GLS 63 AMG isn’t made for rock-crawling, it can venture somewhat off-pavement. The suspension does offer dedicated Trail and Sand modes, which also raise the ride height by 2.16”. However, it doesn’t look like the GLS 63 AMG offers the ‘bounce mode’ found in other GLS trims.
Pricing and alternative options
The 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLS 63 hasn’t quite hit dealers. Mercedes reports the crossover will be available in summer 2020. However, it won’t be cheap. The base GLS 450 starts at $75,950. The AMG trim, though, will start at $133,095.
That’s about $23,400 cheaper than the 2020 Mercedes-AMG G63. Which, admittedly, is down about 20 hp. But if you genuinely do go off-roading, it has 3 locking differentials and a low-range transfer case. And if you’re OK with giving up a bit of speed, the base G550 is actually about $3000 cheaper than the GLS 63 AMG. But neither G-Wagon offers a 3rd-row.
In fact, there aren’t very many high-performance 3-row luxury SUVs or crossovers on the market. There is the Alpina XB7, which comes with a 612-hp 4.4-liter twin-turbocharged V8. But it won’t be available until September 2020, and starts at $142,295. And although the Bentley Bentayga does offer a 3rd row, it’s noticeably smaller than the GLS’ 3rd row. Plus, the Bentayga is both slower and more expensive.
If you’re OK with giving up that 3rd row, though, there is the Porsche Cayenne. It’s a Car and Driver Editor’s Choice winner and handles even better than the GLS 63 AMG. The 541-hp Cayenne Turbo undercuts the Mercedes by about $6000, but can still go 0-60 in 3.5 seconds. You can’t get Android Auto, though.
Finally, Mercedes also offers an AMG version of the E-Class Wagon. It doesn’t ride as high, nor are its rear-facing 3rd-row seats quite as big. But it has the same 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V8 as the GLS 63 AMG. And it’s about $22,000 cheaper.
Follow more updates from MotorBiscuit on our Facebook page.