As far as beetle-crushers from Stuttgart go, this one's a sledgehammer - as are most of the vehicles that come out of the AMG skunk works at Affalterbach.
AMG has announced details of the 2013 GL63 AMG, which it describes with understated simplicity as a high-performance SUV. Yeah, right, like Airwolf was a helicopter.
The big bangs come courtesy of the proven M157 5.5-litre biturbo V8, tuned for 410kW at 5250rpm and and a take-no-prisoners 760Nm from 2000-5000rpm, thanks to spray-guided direct fuel-injection through piezo injectors, an air-water intercooler and four-valve technology with variable camshafts.
And, because the block, heads and pan are all aluminium, the engine weighs only 205kg.
In 'controlled efficiency' (C) mode, the idle stop function switches off the engine as soon as the vehicle comes to a standstill. A green ECO icon comes up on the instrument custer, throttle response is softened and gear-changes happen early - in fact the GL63 will usually pull away in second.
In the sport (S) and manual (M) modes, however, the idle stop is disabled, throttle and gearbox responses are tighter and a momentary retardation of both ignition and injection during upshift under full load delivers faster shift times “and a thrilling acoustic effect”.
AMG quotes a 0-100 sprint time of 4.9 seconds and an (electronically limited) top speed of 250km/h - which could be a recipe for disaster if it were not for AMG's Ride Control sports suspension and Active Curve System to keep the shiny side up and pointed in the right direction.
40:60 POWER SPLIT
Power delivery to all four permanently driven wheels is handled by a seven-speed automatic transmission with three modes and automatic double declutching for downshifting. A separate transfer box splits the drive 40:60 between front and rear axles.
AMG boss Ola Källenius put it like this: “With the GL63 AMG, our range of performance-oriented SUVs is now complete. Alongside the outstandingly versatile ML63 AMG and the recently launched G63 and G65 AMG, the GL63 combines the first-class comfort of the S-Class with the performance of an AMG sports sedan.”
All of which is controlled by AMG Ride Control air suspension with special struts, automatic self-leveling and adaptive damping, in tandem with the active curve system, which has active anti-roll bars on the front and rear axles to reduce body roll in cornering.
The anti-roll bars, springs and damping adapt automatically to the prevailing onditions; at the touch of a button, the GL63 AMG driver can choose between two suspension modes - 'Comfort' and 'Sport'. The air-suspension system is also speed sensitive and lowers the bodyshell at higher speeds to minimise drag and improve stability.
The speed-sensitive AMG electromechanical sports steering has variable power assistance, depending on which suspension mode you're in.
The GL63 AMG runs on machine polished, twin five-spoke 21” alloy rim shod with 295/40 rubber, over big, red Brembo callipers on drilled and ventilated discs all round - 390mm in front, 345mm at the rear.
LOOKING THE PART
The GL63's AMG body kit includes a special front valance with huge air intakes for effective airflow to the cooling modules. The lower air intake is shaped like a stylised letter A, with a narrow gap under a sharp black fin, through which air flows directly to the cooling modules, and a chrome trim element to create visual breadth and blend into the surrounds for the LED daytime running lamps incorporated into the outer air intakes.
Flared arches over the 295mm-wide alloys add almost 50mm to the overall width of the body, and blend into the special rear valance, over a distinctive black diffuser-type panel punctuated by dual chromed tailpipes on either side.
All seven seats are upholstered in premium leather, with double stitching in a contrasting color and AMG badges in the backrests of the front seats and the outer rear seats. The dashboard, armrests and door trim are finished in MB-Tex fabric with double stitching.
The four-spoke AMG steering wheel has perforated leather grips, a flattened bottom and aluminum shift paddles.
Standard kit includes:
AMG running boards in stainless steel.
AMG floor mats.
AMG sports pedals in stainless steel with rubber studs.
Active Parking Assist.
Active Curve System.
Comand System with Bluetooth and USB interface.
Collision Prevention Assist.
Easy-entry system for the rear seat on both sides.
Electrically operated tailgate.
Electric tilt/sliding glass roof.
Intelligent Light System.
Keyless entry and start.
Multi-contour seats with massage function for driver and front passenger.
Memory package, including electrically adjustable driver and front passenger seats, steering column and exterior mirrors with memory function, plus four-way lumbar support for driver and front passenger.
Three-zone automatic climate control.
The Mercedes-Benz GL63 AMG will go on sale on the world market from the first quarter of 2013; no decision has yet been made as to whether it will be released in South Africa.