2021 Mercedes GLE 63 S review

The GLE 63 S is a fine SUV, so why dream of a G-Wagen?

2021 Mercedes GLE 63 S rear
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I’m not defending them, but if you were minded to buy a truly profligate Mercedes SUV, it is kind enough to give you a choice, all powered by its monster 4-litre twin-turbo V8 motor. You can have this GLE 63 S (or its stretched seven-seat GLS sister) or, and this is the interesting bit, a G-Class, better known to most as the G-Wagen or even Geländewagen.

And having spent time recently in both the GLE and G, I can confirm that not only is the GLE over £30,000 cheaper, it’s better in almost every way. It is faster, more stable, more spacious for passengers, more frugal (as if such things mattered to customers of cars such as these), it has a much better ride quality, is quieter and has more up-to-date tech. Just plain better in other words. You’d be an idiot to spend more on the inferior G-Wagen.

An idiot like me. The GLE 63 S is a fine example of its kind, if that’s the sort of car you’re after, but it’s not long before it becomes just another device for doing a particular job quite well and rather rapidly. The G-Wagen never lets that happen. Every single journey, however short or long, is an occasion. Its noise alone makes you laugh, its shape and unique approach to the open road a novelty that never wears off. I quite liked the GLE but it does not stand proud in my memory. The less capable but infinitely more charming G-Wagen does. And if that’s not why you’re spending a six-figure sum on an SUV, it’s hard to see why else you might.

Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S statistics

Price £110,533
Engine 4 litres, 8 cylinders, turbocharged, petrol
Power 603bhp
Torque 626lb ft
Weight 2420kg
Power to weight 249bhp per tonne
Transmission Nine-speed automatic, four-wheel drive
0-60mph 3.8sec
Top speed 175mph
Economy 22.8mph
CO2 281g/km
Verdict Class act, but no G-Class.