Tag: AMG

The Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S: The Pick of the Bunch!

In the last few decades, the car world has seen seismic changes in consumer tastes. From the traditional box shape saloons reigning supreme, to the awkward stage of MPVs, and now we’re faced with a sea of SUVs. Everything these days seems to be an SUV/crossover of some flavour and distinguishing your vehicle from not only your competitors, but within your own stable, has become increasingly difficult.

For instance, the Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S on tests costs R2.9 million without options. The Coupe version will set you back another R70 000.For R3.2 million you can jump into the larger GLS 63 and for R100 000 on top of that your bum will be in the seat of a G63.
Now, a R400 000 difference for you and I may seem like quite a lot of money but when we’re talking sums as large as this, it’s a little less significant.


It’s also important to the note that all models mentioned above use the same engine – a 4.0-litre biturbo V8. So, my question is where exactly does the GLE 63 S actually fit in? If we’re looking at size and looks, then sure there’s a notable difference. But when we’re talking performance alone, is there a need for the GLE 63 seeming you’ll get similar performance elsewhere in the range?

The short and sweet of that is yes! In fact, it would probably be the one I’d most recommend to anyone shopping in this segment. Or rather, it’s the one that speaks to me most of all.
You see, the GLS is a larger and heavier vehicle and as such the dynamics are compromised. The sprint time of 4.2 seconds is quite off the GLE’s time of 3.8 seconds even though they produce the same amount of power. Sure, if you need the additional space then the former is the right option, albeit with less gusto.
The G63 might be a cult classic and probably the ‘coolest’ car of the lot but it is the least powerful and has the slowest sprint time of 4.5 seconds. It’s 20kW down in comparison to the other two and has the slowest top speed of 240km/h. So, in essence, the GLE 63 seems to be the true performance bang for your buck in the Mercedes-AMG SUV line-up.

If I do have one reservation about the GLE 63, it’s that it looks a bit demure, particularly in the specification we tested. The Panamericana grille and massive vents are distinctively AMG and assert the domineering presence of the GLE, but it may be mistaken for the lesser 53 variant. While some may appreciate the more reserved exterior, there is an extensive option list where you’re able to build your perfect specification. The 22” cross-spoke alloys are a must for me!

While we’re on the topic of tailoring your GLE, the cabin has a plethora of technology and luxury amenities that you’re able to configure to your exact liking. The MBUX infotainment system that includes two 12.3” screens that span across the dashboard should be familiar to most Mercedes owners, but it is still one of the most standout aspects of this interior. The latest system fitted is easy to navigate and very responsive, while the digital display behind the driver has multiple design configurations and can display any vital information for the driver. Although Mercedes-Benz has introduced a new steering wheel design featured on the latest E-Class, I must admit that I prefer this current design. The touch-sensitive pads are easier to use and the alcantara finish is certainly a nice touch.

On the road, the ride quality is slightly firmer than what I would like it to be, but the saving grace is the 21” rims fitted to our press unit which provide a bit more cushioning. The 22” cross-spoke alloys will result in an even harsher ride. The AMG Active Ride Control air suspension, which is standard on the GLE 63 and an option on the 53, does provide some suppleness over more jarring surfaces but you will feel the harsher imperfections. In saying that, I do feel that competitors like the BMW X5 M Competition ride slightly harder than the GLE 63.

The biggest drawcard of the GLE 63 is its 4.0-litre V8. Generally, that engine is phenomenal with linear power delivery that doesn’t seem to plateau, and a soundtrack like none other. Power on offer is 450kw and 850Nm, plus the addition of AMG’s mild-hybrid EQ Boost assist which provides an additional 16kW and 250Nm temporarily. As mentioned previously, the 100km/h sprint time comes up in a mere 3.8 seconds and at no point did the engine feel like it was waning for power. In fact, I suspect Mercedes-AMG were quite conservative with those sprint time figures. The 9-speed transmission is somewhat lazy in its calibration where it would be slightly sluggish on the downshifts and over eager on the upshifts, particularly when approaching corners. While the changes are crisp and responsive, the calibration needs to be worked on slightly to ensure that you are always in the optimal gear.

When tackling corners, the GLE 63 truly outshines its stablemates and where you notice the advantage of having a stiffer suspension set up. The front-end bites well into the corners and body rolls remains very composed and stable. Compared to the larger GLS 63, you certainly have more confidence in tackling corners as you are able to gauge the heft of the car with better accuracy, meaning you have more ability to take corners at a higher speed.

All-in-all, the GLE 63 S is a highly competent high-performance SUV that, in my opinion, is the pick of the bunch in terms of Mercedes-AMG’s line-up but is also right up there in terms of its competitors. You get the most amount of performance without sacrificing anything in terms of luxury and refinement. You also save yourself a fair amount of money, if that matters to you.

It’s an AMG Onslaught!

Mercedes-Benz South Africa debuted their new range of AMG SUVs and we attended the local launch to bring you more.

By now I’m sure you’ve all heard the news that Mercedes-AMG will introduce a 2.0-litre hybrid engine into their historically bonkers, V8-powered C 63. And while many may have been left dumbstruck at the death of an engine that has become so endearing to the brand, the times are indeed changing. While we’re at it, here’s another healthy dose of a reality check: that engine will probably at some stage filter into the remaining AMG cars and before you know it, goodbye V8.   

But the purpose of this review is not to instill a morbid outlook on the future, but a gentle reminder that if you want an AMG with a V8 engine then best you snap one up quickly.

Which neatly brings me onto the range of cars that we had at our disposal last week when Mercedes-Benz South Africa hosted us at their Advanced Drivers Academy at Zwartkops Raceway.

Mercedes-AMG GLS 63 4MATIC+

First things first, this is a very, very large car. Just over 1.8m tall and under 2.0m wide. In comparison to the recently launched EQS with its near-perfect drag coefficient, the GLS is the aerodynamic equivalent of a 5-bedroom house. So, it’s even more surprising to note that the GLS can sprint to 100km/h in just a mere 4.2 seconds! There’s a remarkable 450kW and 850Nm on tap from its 4.0-litre V8 with a soundtrack that is distinctively AMG. It’s wonderful!

Our route involved a mixture of mountain passes, highway cruising and a final bashing around Gerotek testing facility near Hartebeesport. No matter the road, speed or driving mode you’re in, the GLS 63 remains impeccably comfortable and effortlessly quick. Air suspension with special spring/damper set-up and adaptive adjustable damping all contribute towards a very special drive.

Around the high-speed bowl at Gerotek, I was able to push the car to a maximum speed of 220km/h before I realized I am not Max Verstappen and my talent will eventually run out. Even then, the GLS 63 never felt spooked by the conditions and behaved exactly as you would expect from any other AMG.

It’s a fantastic balance of luxury and performance but that does come with a hefty price tag. You’ll need to part with just short of R3.2 million to get into one and the options list is exorbitant. Oh, and if you want the Monoblock rims as pictured above, you will have to part with an additional R80 000. Although it received a mixed reaction from local media, I think it will work well with Mercedes-Benz’s clientele.

Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S SUV/Coupe

The fourth generation GLE made its debut back in 2019 and remained one of Mercedes best-selling models. Although, it is interesting to note that global sales figures from Q1 of 2021 reported that BMW outsold Mercedes-Benz by 45 000 units, with the former reaching 636 606, while the latter came in with 590 999 units.

So then, apples for apples, is the GLE 63 short in terms of power to chief rival BMW and their X5 M Competition? Well, no. The BMW produces 460kW and 750Nm while the Mercedes, fitted with the same engine as the GLS 63, produces a mighty 450kW and 850Nm, plus an additional 16kW and 250Nm provided through electrical assistance that can be used temporarily.

The 9-speed transmission, which is also fitted to the GLS, made easy work of rapid shifts during our time at Gerotek where we were able test the cars acceleration. 100km/h comes up in 3.8 seconds, so it surprisingly made easy work of the heftier GLS in the drag races.

In terms of pricing, the standard GLE 63 S retails for R2 885 000 while the coupe variant is slightly more expensive at R2 948 000. BMW retails their X5 M Competition for slightly cheaper, give or take R50 000, which when you’re spending this amount of money is irrelevant. So, which one should you pick? Well, that’s entirely up to you but if we’re talking just Mercedes, the Coupe is certainly the head turner out of the lot and that’s where I would spend my hypothetical money.

Mercedes-AMG GLE 53 S SUV/Coupe

Not all models that we tested at the local launch were fitted with the 4.0-litre V8. The 53 models are fitted with a 3.0-litre six-cylinder in-line engine that again is aided by electrical assistance. Power figures are healthy at 320kW and 520Nm plus an additional 16kW and 250Nm is available from the batteries and alternators fitted.

For the average man or woman, those figures are more than sufficient and it’s only when you pit the 53 variants against the more powerful 63’s, do you really notice a power deficit. But in saying that, a 0-100km/h sprint time of 5.3 seconds is still commendable and it’s worth noting that in all instances that I was in or against a 53 model, it was the quickest off the line, until the inevitable power advantage of the V8 comes into play.

The GLE 53 manages to strike a comfortable balance of everyday liveability with exhilarating performance. Pricing for the standard GLE 53 is R1 837 000 while the Coupe will set you back R1 925 000. So, that’s roughly a R1 million saving over the more powerful 63 model but you are not being short-changed. Regardless of the model, the 53 variants are often the sweet spot in the range and in my opinion, it’s the same case here.

You can’t reasonably use all that power, all the time. In fact, there are very few instances where you would need the additional power of the V8. And dare I say it, Mercedes-Benz currently makes a better 3.0 inline six cylinder than BMW. I’ll probably be shot at dawn for uttering this but it is all in the name of good journalism!

The Performance Car Buyer’s Guide

Audi enters the arena with a whopping 15 new models! We see how they stack up

You’re thinking to yourself times are tough, right? Here we are giving you a buyer’s guide on vehicles that cost the equivalent of houses in upmarket areas. You must be thinking we’ve gone nuts? Well, no. In reality, it’s you that are the ones that have gone nuts!

South Africans have quite a sizeable appetite for performance cars – we often account for large percentages of manufacturers performance brands global sales. We have every M derivative from BMW; the same from Mercedes-AMG and now of course Audi Sport has joined the party.

They are a bit late to the party, to be quite honest. Some models mentioned below have been on sale in global markets for a few years now while others will only arrive later on in the year. Audi South Africa says homologation issues and a supply chain backlog caused by Covid-19 was the reason for this delay.

We are a unique market and other countries around the world don’t have the pleasure of experiencing the breadth of performance cars that we do. Imagine being a petrolhead in Sweden? Shame! So, let’s ignore their tardy entrance and focus on what’s on offer:

Audi RS Q3/ RS Q3 Sportback

Audi RS Q3, Static photo, Color: Tango red Audi RS Q3 Sportback, Static photo, Color: Kyalami green

The most affordable offering here and likely to be a top seller for the Ingolstadt brand. The RS Q3 comes in two body styles, including a Sportback version if less head room is your thing. Powered by the familiar 2.5-litre 5-cylinder engine producing 294kW and 480Nm with 100km/h sprint time of 4.5 seconds, the new RS Q3 should prove to be ferocious machine.

So, where else can you park your money? Well, Mercedes-AMG are yet to offer the GLA 45 to our market, so like-for-like competitors will be the BMW X2 M35i which serves up 225kW and 450Nm. Although it is down on power, it is also a bit cheaper retailing for R929 400 as opposed to the Audi’s base price R1 094, 000. Add another R30 000 to get into the Sportback version.

On the opposite end of the scale, you have the Porsche Macan S, which comes with a lovely V6 engine producing 260kW and 480Nm. But it does start at R1 250 000 so pound-for-pound, it seems the RS Q3 represents good value for money.

Audi TT RS Coupe and Roadster

Static photo Colour: Turbo blue

If you want all of that fire-breathing goodness of the RS Q3 but in a hunkered-down, coupe body style, then TT RS is the one for you!

Utilizing the exact same engine as the RS Q3, the TT RS can sprint to 100km/h in just a mere 3.7 seconds! It’s often referred to as the ‘Supercar Slayer’ and you can see why! Although, the convertible will achieve that same time 0.2 seconds slower.

The TT RS retails for roughly the same amount of money as the RS Q3 and produces identical power and torque figures. It is worth noting that the TT RS makes use of 7-speed-tiptronic gearbox while the RS Q3 gets a S tronic with the same number of gears.

This is a tough segment to be competing in. Enemy number one is the BMW M2 Competition which has a retail sticker of R1 139 464 and produces a whopping 302kW and 550Nm (8kw/70Nm more) and is rear wheel driven. Because of that, it can’t beat the Audi with its all-wheel drive system to 100km/h, coming in 0.5 seconds slower at 4.2 seconds.

You can also consider a Mercedes-AMG A45 S, which retails for R1 156 840 and has a mightily impressive 2.0-litre turbocharged engine. Figures are eye-watering at 310kW and 500Nm for such a small powerplant. But if you’re looking for the fastest sprinter, then TT RS is still quicker with the Mercedes getting across the line in a close 3.9 seconds.

Audi RS 5 Coupe and Sportback

Static photo; Colour: Glacier white

While we’re on the topic of coupes, the updated RS 5 Coupe and Sportback have finally touched down. These models are just mid-life refreshes (likewise for the TT RS), so don’t expect significant changes. You still have the familiar 3.0-litre V6 churning out 331kW and 600Nm with a highly respectable 100km/h dash in 3.9 seconds. Minor exterior changes have made the RS 5 more aggressive while you can also expect some tech updates on the inside.

The Coupe retails for just a smidge under the R1.4 million mark, while the 4-door Sportback is just slightly over that amount.

Audi’s chief rivals from Munich and Stuttgart come in at almost R2 million for their M3/M4 and C63 respectively, so they’re out of the equation. A left-field contender could be the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio which comes with almost the same sticker price but 44kw more power at 375kW and 600Nm. It is a tough sell considering their embattled reputation in the country but take nothing away from an outstanding product!

For another left-field contender, we can look to Porsche again and this time their 718 Cayman GTS 4.0. It is almost R100k more expensive and can’t compete in the power stakes, only offering up 294kW and 430Nm, but it does offer a completely different driving experience and you’re sure to get the same, if not more thrills than the Audi.

Audi RS 4 Avant

Static photo Color: Tango red

Let’s first start with thanking Audi for continuing to bring in these beloved but neglected cars. The steer towards SUVs will always mean that station wagons will remain a niche segment, but one that Audi has full control over.

The RS 4 Avant carries over the same engine as the RS 5, so power and torque figures are identical. The additional weight at the rear means that the sprint time has been cut down by 0.2 seconds to 4.1 seconds.

Again, this is just an updated model so there isn’t much to talk about in terms major changes – just small updates that bring it into line with other Audi models.

So then, where else should you park your R1.3 million? Well, nowhere else really because there are no natural competitors in our market for the RS 4 Avant. So instead, we’ll just amiably ask that you go out and buy one so Audi can make a business case to continue bringing them in. Please!

Audi RS 6 Avant

Static photo, Color: daytonagray matt

This is the big daddy station wagon, and rearing its head over the R2 million mark, it certainly should be. The RS 6 Avant ditches the V6 of its lesser sibling and upgrades to a mighty V8. 441kW and 800Nm is nothing to sneeze at, in fact this all-encompassing family runabout can get you to 100km/h in just 3.6 seconds. While 22-inch rims and the optional carbon ceramic brakes should do a good job in making sure you can stop equally as fast.

There is only one natural competitor to the RS 6 Avant and that’s the Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo. However, in order to get into the V8 model, you’ll have to opt for the GTS which retails for a hefty R2.4 million and there’s quite a power shortage with 353kW and 620Nm on top. To get near the RS 6 Avant’s power figures, you’ll have to opt Turbo S model which is almost another R1 million on top of the price of the GTS.

Audi seems to win another round of value for money!

Audi RS 7 Sportback

Static photo, Colour: tango red

If you’re not a fan of station wagons, which it seems many of you sadly aren’t, then the swoopier, coupe-like RS 7 Sportback is for you. Identical to the RS 6 Avant in most aspects apart from looks but it will cost you an extra R100k, with a sum total of R2.17 million.

Regardless whether you prefer a sedan or station wagon, both are jaw-droppingly beautiful. This is probably Audi’s best effort yet in the styling department, and that’s a big statement seeming they’ve produced a few lookers in their current stable.

Buyers in this segment do have a few choices, you can look at Porsche again with their Panamera, but I think the RS 7’s biggest rival will be the BMW 8 Series Gran Coupe. At almost the exact same starting price, the M850i is down on power in comparison to the Audi, with 390kW and 750Nm in comparison to 441kW and 800Nm. The more closely matched competitor in terms of power is the M8 Competition but that sits at a healthy R3.4 million. Ouch!

It’s the same story over at Mercedes-Benz. If you want a V8 model, then you have to opt for AMG GT63 S 4 Door, which has the same price as the BMW M8 Competition but it does produce a lot more power at 470kW and 900Nm. More in line with the RS 7’s pricing is the AMG GT53 4 Door, which utilizes a 3.0-litre 6-cylinder with electric support. Figures of 336kW and 520Nm are well short of the Audi.

In essence, V8 power for V6 money – good job, Audi!

Audi S8

This is Audi’s answer to the perennial Mercedes-Benz S-Class and BMW 7 Series. The A8 does live in the shadows of the other two but Audi hopes to change that with a suite of systems that should rival the best. Dynamic all-wheel steering, predictive active suspension management and a Quattro system with a sport differential should mean the new S8 will be enjoyable and luxurious. This is another Audi packing V8 power and 420kW and 800Nm should be more than handy!

We mentioned the two chief rivals earlier to the S8 so let’s start with the one everybody seems to love. Mercedes-Benz have yet to officially launch the new S-Class that debuted internationally last year, but we do have some figures. For the time being, we will be getting the S400d and S500 with both models falling between the R2.4 million mark. You only have the choice of a 3.0-litre 6-cylinder producing 336kW and 520Nm for S500 and 243kW and 700Nm for the oil-burner.

BMW has a variety of options in their 7 Series range, from a 3.0-litre 6-cylinder all the way up to a 6.6-litre V12! Best snag one of those before they’re all gone!

The 750Li xDrive would be the Audi’s closest competitor in terms of price with a 4.4-litre V8 and costing R2.5 million, but there is a significant power difference (I sound like I’m stuck on repeat) with outputs of 390kW and 750Nm.

Audi SQ 7

Static photo, Colour:Daytona grey

The Q7 went under the knife last year which saw mild styling tweaks on the exterior and some welcomed goodies on the inside. The Q7 range is only offered in diesel derivatives and the SQ7 is no different – but now with Audi’s most powerful diesel engine! 310kW and 900Nm would’ve done the trick in freeing the Ever Given ship blocking the Suez Canal! And you would’ve had room to fit any stranded sailors with all 7 seats in place.

When it comes to powerful diesel powertrains, Audi has this corner of the market well covered as many manufacturers have opted against bringing in new diesel engines. Mercedes-Benz provides the SQ7 with its sternest challenge in form the GLE 400d but power figures can’t match the Audi with only 243kW and 700Nm available.

There is of course another competitor that I think is massively underrated and an equally brilliant, if not a better choice than the Audi and it comes from their own stable. The Volkswagen Touareg is hugely accomplished vehicle, and yes it can’t compete with the Audi in terms of power (nothing can, to be honest) but it rides on the Volkswagen Groups latest platform that underpins their newer models like the Q8 and even extending into brands like Porsche, Bentley and Lamborghini. The best bit? You save almost R170k with a retail sticker of R1.5 million.

Audi SQ 8 and RS Q8

Dynamic photo, Color: Florett silver

While the bonkers RS Q8 makes use of a monstrous petrol-powered V8, the SQ 8 follows the same path as the SQ 7 with its diesel engine. Power figures are identical to the latter but like we mentioned earlier, it does benefit from the Volkswagen Groups latest modular platform which comes with a raft of benefits over the previous iteration.

But the big talking point here is the RS Q8 which produces a phenomenal 441kW and 800Nm, while this large lump of metal can achieve 100km/h in just a mere 3.8 seconds. No wonder then that it claimed the title of the fastest SUV around the famed Nürburgring.

While the SQ 8 retails for around R1.8 million you will have to shell out a fair bit more to get into the RS Q8 with a price R2.3 million.

For around R300k more, the Range Rover Sport SVR offers a decent alternative to the RS Q8 with its absolutely raucous supercharged V8 churning out 423kW and 700Nm. Although, it is an ageing product, and the Audi will outperform it in many areas in terms of power, tech and refinement. And if a coupe-SUV is your thing, then the Range Rover doesn’t quite fit the bill.

The Mercedes-AMG GLE63 S Coupe is a more worthy alternative in the segment with figures of 466kW and 850Nm, plus it is provided with some electric assistance to achieve a 100km/h sprint in just 3.8 seconds – matching the Audi. Pricing is well north of the Audi, however, coming it at an extraordinary R2.9 million; and if you’re wondering, the BMW X6 M Competition is priced similarly.

Audi R8 Coupe and Spyder

Static photo, Colour: Ascari Blue metallic

We’ve saved the best for last and with a screaming mid-mounted naturally aspirated V10 and the fastest acceleration time of all with 3.2 seconds, you can see why!

With 449kW and 560Nm readily available, this is Audi’s performance halo car and comes with a price tag to match with the Coupe costing you R3.3 million and the Spyder going for R3.6 million. The latter does weigh slightly more thanks to the retractable roof so it’s 0.1 second down compared to its hardtop sibling.

While the near-identical Lamborghini Huracan would be a natural rival to the R8, its R5 million price tag blows it well out of the water!

So, let’s turn to Britain for an alternative in the form of their Aston Martin Vantage. Power figures from its AMG-sourced V8 are respectable at 375kW and 685Nm and it does cost a healthy sum less at R3 million.

One of the fastest accelerating cars that I have ever had the pleasure of driving is the Porsche 911 Turbo S and even though it’s quite a bit more expensive sitting at R3.8 million, it does break that 3.0 second barrier with 100km/h coming up in just 2.9 seconds. Power figures of 478kW and 800Nm outshine the Audi’s by quite some margin.

What are your favourites? Leave us a comment below!

The Mercedes-Benz GLC Goes 63

The Mercedes-Benz GLC Gets The 63 Treatment

Do you remember that one tough guy at school? Yes him. The one that had six or seven brothers and all of them were untouchable! The brothers that were tighter than industrial super glue and if one of them got into trouble, you had to deal with all of them.

Well in a modern sense, that is what has happened to the Mercedes AMG brothers. All of them are a force to be reckoned with but together, they form the vehicular equivalent of the Avengers. The latest of the Mercedes brothers to get the in-house horse power treatment is the GLC and before you say, “but hang on we know that this variant has the uber smooth V6 270K 520 NM 43 version”, you would be mistaken! Mercedes AMG has now come out with a 63 version of the GLC. Yes, the motor that sounds like Zeus coming down from Mount Olympus, has now being shoehorned into this this Midrange Mercedes SUV. Claimed figures from the 4.0 liter V8 twin turbo is quicker that your five-year-old daughter asking, “Daddy (mommy in my household) is that a Ferrari?” That’s four seconds just FYI.

The “regular” version will get the “standard” 350 KW and 650NM and the S version will get then 375KW 700NM upgrade. In this vehicle, little Hannah won’t even get to finish her sentence at 3.8 seconds. This torrent of power and torque will be send through the familiar 4Matic system, aided by a rear limited slip differential, guaranteed to make those trips to the shop VERY entertaining.


With the GLC 43 starting at R 1 070 900.00, we estimate that you won’t get much change for your R1.7M. Competition will be tough with direct opposition from the Porsche Macan Turbo, Jaguar SVR and the upcoming Zebra stripe wearing BMW X3M. With SA’s economy hitting junk status, the older brother GLE might be out of range so this will be a steal under R2M!!