Witness what the expansion of hybridization has wrought. There was a time when gas-electric hybrids like the first-generation Toyota Prius and Honda Insight told the world that gas-electrics were the future of efficiency, but what we didn’t know was that they’d be the future of performance. Indeed, instant electric torque is useful for filling in the inherent lag of a turbocharged engine, and the Mercedes-AMG GLE63 S is the automaker’s latest example of using electricity for fun as well as frugality.
It’s making its debut at the 2019 L.A. Auto Show alongside the one-size-larger GLS63; both new mega-SUVs feature the first integration of Mercedes’ EQ Boost mild-hybrid system with its hot-vee twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V-8. (The engine’s applications know no bounds—it also powers the manual-transmission-packing Aston Martin Vantage AMR.)
Here, output for the V-8 comes to 603 horsepower and 627 lb-ft of torque; the 48-volt mild-hybrid system can add up to 21 horsepower and 184 lb-ft for short periods of time. No word on performance yet, but figure on something like a quarter-mile in the middle to low twelves. Not just fast to respond, the EQ Boost system also acts as an integrated starter-generator and allows for the vehicle to “sail” while cruising by shutting off the engine and sustaining speed using electric power alone.
The powertrain works through with a nine-speed torque-converter automatic and AMG-tuned all-wheel-drive hardware. The all-wheel-drive system can send up to 100 percent of torque to the rear wheels; the default is 50/50 between the front and rear axles.
The GLE63 S is equipped with AMG Ride Control+, though it lacks the wacky off-road “bounce mode” of GLE and GLS models with Free Driving Assist. Working with the standard air suspension, the big-engine GLE AMG allows drivers to choose between Comfort, Sport, and Sport+ settings, which alter the stiffness of the dampers. AMG Dynamic Select offers the same modes plus Individual, Race, and Trail and Sand to customize engine and transmission programming, stability-control intervention, steering, and engine sound.
Like the majority of newer Mercedes models, the GLE63 S has MBUX digital-assistant functionality as standard. Driver-assist tech is also standard, including adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist, active brake assist, and preemptive procedures to protect the driver in the case of an unavoidable collision.
It has tech, it has performance, it has room for the whole family, and the Mercedes-AMG GLE63 S is yet another modern example that proves hybrids can be sledgehammers, too.
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