Now here’s a car for the COVID era: the 2021 N Mercedes-AMG GLS 63, a jacked-up, three-row monolith with sports-car speed and limousine excess. It’s like a panic room on wheels. Touch the accelerator and you and your family are transported from months of homebound boredom, far and fast and into the great wide open. A monstrous new 4-liter biturbo V8 engine hurtles the GLS 63 at a higher velocity than a hedge funder’s track toy, while its SUV ride height allows you to grab drinks from the Starbucks drive-thru without straining a tricep like you would in some ground-adjacent two-seater.
Not that you would need the caffeine. The GLS 63 can provide as much on-road stimulation as you can take (and your driving record permits). Does it slurp fuel? Not as much as its gurgling exhaust note would suggest: We managed 22 miles per gallon over a week-long drive. Still, should your sport sandal-wearing neighbors give your new ride the side-eye, tell them it’s a hybrid (just not in the way they’re thinking). The GLS 63’s integrated starter generator and 48-volt electrical system recuperates energy, expending it during red lights (when the engine is shut off ) or when you need its additional 21-horsepower boost during a quick getaway. The electrical system also plays a part in the vehicle’s air-and-hydropneumatic suspension trickery, which makes the vehicle lean into turns, as you would on a motorcycle. Turn up the Burmester sound system and you can get carried away out there.
Our test vehicle came loaded with questionable options: a carbon-fiber engine cover ($1,500), 23-inch matte black wheels that looked like they’d been grabbed from a decommissioned stormtrooper transport vehicle ($4,950); an “air balance” package that spritzed the cabin with an “energizing” fragrance ($550). Excessive, sure. But the buyer of this beast likely isn’t doing much looking back: It’s difficult to turn your neck at these speeds, anyway.
By the Numbers
- MSRP: From $132,100
- HORSEPOWER: 605
- 0-60: 4.1 sec.
- TOP SPEED: 174 mph
- MAX CARGO: 84.7 cu. ft.