Mercedes GLE 63 S – the maddest ‘SUC’ out there

A sports utility coupe – who came up with that idea? Perhaps BMW, with the ‘squashed’ X6 are to blame. The styling of that car is takes ugly to new limits, so what chance the GLE then?

Well, despite cursing the shape from every angle, it’s difficult not to find this top spec version crazily entertaining. It isn’t the bodywork but what lies under the bonnet that causes a fit of the giggles every time I press the start button.

Forget AMG’s new 4.0-litre V8, this is the old 5.5 with a tank full of torque (like 760 Nm). It’s quite simple the maddest SUV – or SUC – I’ve ever steered. A high-heeled coupe that overtakes everything with a rip-roaring soundtrack.

Wide 22-inch wheels help boost grip and in Sport+ mode it simply flies from the traffic lights.

Inside, there’s the standard issue Mercedes dash – ruined by the barnacle infotainment screen that won’t fold away – great visibility thanks to the extra height but poor rear vision, due to the tiny, tiny screen.

It’s a bit bling, a bit loud and occasionally a bit wild but is there a better way to annoy Range Rover drivers? I doubt it.

 

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What you really need to know about the Mercedes AMG GT S

So what do you really need to know about the Mercedes AMG GT S? Well, here’s my tick list of things that you might not discover from an hour-long test drive…

The seats are ridiculous hard! Trust me, I’ve had passengers of all shapes and sizes in the GT S. And NOBODY has got out without commenting on the silly, race-tuned seats. It’s supposed to be a grand tourer. My hips are aching as I write this. Top of your options list should be a couple of soft scatter cushions.

The upright infotainment screen really doesn’t disappear into the dashboard! You know it’s fixed in that upright position but trust me, you will still try and push it away. Yep, it’s that incongruous.

Mind the gap. The doors are very heavy. No surprise in a car this size and rather reassuring BUT they do need a good slam.

The auto dip/full-beam system is lazy. I know it’s been an Easter Bank holiday but why do they take so long to dip in the face of oncoming traffic? Wake up in there!

Luggage space is minimal. On top of that, the door pockets are virtually pointless because they are so narrow and made of stretch material. You need two hands to insert something – not advisable at speed.

On the up side – it’s way better looking that a Porsche 911, will win more admiring glances and sounds fantastic. As a driver’s car? Well, it still lags behind the user-friendly Porsche – and the brilliant McLaren 540 is only a few bucks more…

A nice problem to have.

Spoiler alert – the ugly Betty dashboard of the Mercedes AMG GT S

It’s almost Easter and I don’t want to upset you with a photograph of something very ugly indeed. The shocking thing is, the ‘something’ in question is inside the Mercedes AMG GT S.

They say that beauty is only skin deep and in this case, they might be right. Because although the Merc grand tourer is exceptionally pretty to behold, it isn’t so cute from the driver’s seat.

Yes, it’s another case of the ugly carbuncle of an infotainment system. Standing proud on the dashboard of the GT is a screen that looks like it was screwed on as an afterthought.

Now, I know some manufacturers of lesser cars can magically make a screen disappaear into the dash when not required. It makes for cleaner lines and a more pleasing design.

So please, can Mercedes do the same? The GT is such a gorgeous car that is deserves sp much better in the cabin….

Mercedes AMT GT S – take a soft cushion because the seats are made of rock

Staying in remote Irish lighthouses is fine – except there’s little chance to update a motoring blog. Internet coverage doesn’t exist and when it does, the moment is fleeting.

So after four days with the GT S I can tell you it is one hot car. Blistering pace, a raucous exhaust note and the sort of head-turning looks normaly reserved for a McLaren.

Park it next to a Porsche 911 Turbo and you will ALWAYS get the plaudits. Yep, it’s that smart.

On the road, the 911 is a more accomplished beast. The Merc feels (and is) big. It doesn’t inspire confidence like the Porsche and you could easily become unstuck on a wet, winding road.

Joyous to steer, my main complaint would be the ridiculously hard seats. A 40 minute test drive probably wouldn’t reveal the problem – besides you would be too in awe to notice.

However, any longer and believe me, for a Grand Tourer, you will suffer a very sore backside. On rough Irish roads the car can be a bloody nightmare after an hour. We had to stop for coffee.

My advice – take a soft cushion…

Time to pull on the right sunglasses – Mercedes AMG GT S

I have a collection of sunglasses. Mostly handed out as gifts at press events, I generally stick to my own bug-eyed Raybans.

The most expensive pair are made by Zegna. They’re beyond cool and for a gentleman ‘of a certain age’ you really have to be in the right place to wear them out.

Today is definitely a Zegna day, thanks to the AMG GT S. This is no AMG go-faster version of a Mercedes. This is an out and out sports car with brute force and incredible looks.

It’s all wrapped up in an aluminium body that makes the AMG irrestistable to drive.

We’re just off to catch a ferry to Ireland. Provided I can find some wifi in the west, we’ll be back with more tomorrow…

The best SUV all-rounder? The Mercedes GLC

If you must drive an SUV then you could do a lot worse than the Mercedes GLC. Sure, it’s not the cheapest model on the block but the mid-size GLC is the best all-rounder in this sector.

And I would try and stretch your budget to the 250D – an engine that’s a step above the 2.0D in the Jaguar F-Pace. The Mercedes doesn’t feel stretched when pushed hard.

Combined with a classy interior (apart from the carbuncle infotainment screen!), cool looks and decent handling, the GLC is a match for any other premium brand offering.

Just remember that you need extra long legs to avoid those annoying and rather pointless side steps…

The carbuncle that is a dashboard screen – Mercedes GLC

Mercedes won’t like me for pointing this out but the infotainment screen on the GLC is an absolute eyesore.

Somebody has gone to great effort to ensure the centre console is slick and smooth – somebody else decided to stick an ugly screen in the middle.

It’s like sitting in a beautiful lounge, with every seat facing an ugly black TV screen. What’s that all about?

I recently visited a hotel in Scotland with a large, gilt edged mirror in the bedroom. Turned out to be a TV when you found the on/off button. Brilliant.

It’s not just Mercedes, many cars have the carbuncle problem. Perhaps a unit that simply disappears into the top of the dash when not needed is the answer?