The 612hp V8 isn't found in many places now, but it's getting a stay of execution in the latest GLE SUVs
By Matt Bird / Tuesday, 31 January 2023 / Loading comments
All good things must come to an end, and that’s most certainly true for the AMG V8. Doesn’t seem that long ago (even if it actually was) that we all fondly bade farewell to the M156 6.2; now the emotional goodbyes are for that engine’s twin-turbo, 4.0-litre replacement. Already it’s gone from the C63 and E63, but for those desperate to get one last fix of AMG M177 in a new car, there’s some good news – you can still get it in a GLE 63.
The GLE SUV and Coupe range have been updated, with lots of worthy changes like better infotainment, improved towing – making it possible ‘to pull a horse trailer, a valuable classic car or a larger caravan’ – and entirely hybridised powertrains. But it’s the V8 flagship that’s of the most interest, along with its straight-six, GLE 53 understudy. Though both remain as powerful as before, with 435hp for the 53 and 612hp for the 63, there are changes throughout that ought to improve on where the GLE kicked off from in 2018.
AMG says it’s been through the software with a fine toothcomb, recalibrating and improving the 4Matic+ all-wheel drive, the limited-slip diff, the ESP, and the suspension control system for ‘a dynamic and superior driving experience’.
]This might seem like obsessive attention to detail on something so big and so heavy, but think where the SUV has come from since the V8 GLE first arrived five years ago: cars like the DBX 707 and Cayenne Turbo GT are so well sorted that advantages have to be sought wherever they can be found. Hardware isn’t likely to change for a car surely living on borrowed time, so an extensive software refresh it is.
The GLE 53 benefits from some additional torque thanks to – again – software, but also a larger turbo, the new 413lb ft peak (up from 384) able to sprint the AMG to 62mph in 5.0 seconds, down from 5.3. Apparently the 3.0-litre motor now responds with ‘extra spontaneity and added agility’. Buyers of this updated car can also opt for the 63’s AMG Active Ride Control anti-roll system as an option, which boasts a new setup along with the air suspension.
A nip here and a tuck there then, the AMG GLE package also enhanced with some extra kit – MBUX Augmented Reality, Multibeam LED lights, climate-controlled front seats – as well as interior details pinched from the S-Class and a new grille. Suffice it to say this facelift won’t be one to convert the haters, but you only need consider the popularity of comparable cars like the BMW X5 M and Audi RS Q8 to know effort invested in refreshing the GLE 63 is probably worth it. And when the V8s are gone from every AMG, they’re certainly not coming back…
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