New platform and 4.0-liter V-8 engine

Introduced in 2006 as the company’s first full-size SUV, the Mercedes-Benz GL developed from a longer version of the ML into a model of its own with unique features and an AMG version. Just like the ML, which became the GLE, the GL was renamed to GLS in 2016. Part of the brand’s revised nomenclature, the GLS badge signals that this vehicle is the SUV equivalent to the S-Class. On the market since 2012 in its second-generation, the GLS is about to get a big overhaul for the 2019 model year. Alongside the redesigned SUV, Mercedes will also launch a brand-new version of the AMG GLS63. Already spotted on public roads, the performance SUV will arrive sometime in 2019.

While the standard GLS has plenty of competition to go against, including the Cadillac Escalade, Lincoln Navigator, Lexus LX, and the Land Rover Range Rover, the AMG version is almost alone on the market. The Range Rover is the only SUV available with a high-performance drivetrain, and it will remain the only option until BMW launches the X7 and its M version. From this standpoint, the AMG GLS63 will remain a unique full-size SUV on the market and will enable Mercedes-Benz to dominate the niche in the high-performance realm. Let’s see what the upcoming AMG GLS63 might have in store for us.

Continue reading to learn more about the Mercedes-AMG GLS63.

Mercedes-AMG GLS63 Exterior

  • Panamericana grille
  • Aggressive bumper design
  • Large air vents
  • Sportier styling
  • Wide, lightweight wheels
2019 Mercedes-AMG GLS63
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The biggest telltale is the Panamericana grille borrowed from other AMG models

With so much camo and cladding on the body, it may seem difficult to tell the AMG version apart from the standard GLS we’ve seen testing recently, but the hints are there if you look close enough. The biggest telltale sign is the front grille, which looks a lot like the Panamericana element seen on all recently unveiled AMG models. The bumper is also significantly more aggressive than the regular model, with larger intakes on the sides and more muscular features.

2019 Mercedes-AMG GLS63
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The new SUV is also longer and wider than its predecessor

The camouflaged profile also hides a few hints in the wheel area. While the SUV uses different rims for the front and rear wheels, the tires are wider than usual, which suggests there’s more power than usual to be put on the road. The brake calipers are larger too, while the discs are cross-drilled for enhanced performance. The rear, on the other hand, has nothing to show. The taillights are still in prototype form, while the bumper is obviously shared with the standard GLS. A diffuser-like element and a quad exhaust pipe layout will find their way onto the vehicle at some point for a more aggressive look.

AMG-specific features aside, the SUV looks a bit more aerodynamic than its predecessor. It’s also a bit longer and wider.

Mercedes-AMG GLS63 Interior

  • Based on S-Class
  • Sports steering wheel
  • Large 12.3-inch displays
  • Drive Pilot feature
  • AMG Track Pace app
  • Loads of leather and Alcantara
  • Carbon-fiber trim
2017 Mercedes-AMG GLS63 – Driven High Resolution Interior
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Note: current Mercedes-AMG GLS63 pictured here.

Both the instrument cluster and infotainment display will have a 12.3-inch diagonal screen

We don’t have spy shots of the interior yet, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see a layout similar to the S-Class sedan. Of course, the SUV will have a revised dashboard design and a taller and wider center console, but many features should feel familiar. Both the instrument cluster and infotainment displays will have a 12.3 inch diagonal and will be placed under the same hood, as seen in the full-size sedan. This will create the impression that the GLS has a massive screen stretching over half of the dashboard width. The center stack will probably have the four-vent A/C layout and an analog clock for a dash of style.

The tech package will include the Drive Pilot feature

The sporty steering wheel wrapped in leather and Alcantara will include all driving features for better control. The new unit will also detect horizontal and vertical swipes just like the screen of a smartphone. The tech package will include the Drive Pilot feature. Introduced with the latest E-Class and then added to the S-Class facelift, the system enables the vehicle to follow the car in front at speeds of up to 130 mph. It also uses automatic braking and accelerating, as well as the Steering Pilot to handle moderate bends. All told, it will give the AMG GLS63 semi-autonomous capability.

The AMG S63 sedan also comes with the AMG Track Pace, an app that records vehicle data and lap time on the race track. This isn’t the kind of feature I’d expect to find in an SUV, but Merc might add it to the AMG GLS63 for customers who want to give it a go on the Nurburgring track.

Of course, almost every surface will be covered in leather and Alcantara in this model, with trim in either aluminum or carbon-fiber. There’s no doubt that the AMG GLS63 will be one of the most luxurious vehicles on the market.

Mercedes-AMG GLS63 Performance

  • 4.0-liter V-8 engine
  • 603 horsepower
  • 664 pound-feet of torque
  • S65 model with V-12 possible
  • EQ Boost version also likely
  • Eight-speed automatic transmission
  • 4Matic all-wheel drive
2019 Mercedes-AMG GLS63
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The twin-turbo unit will probably crank out the same 603 horsepower and 664 pound-feet of torque as in the AMG S63 sedan

The current GLS63 AMG is one of the last AMG models to still use the old 5.5-liter V-8 engine, and this will change for the new generation. The big mill will be replaced with the already familiar 4.0-liter V-8 that debuted in the AMG GT sports car and spread to almost every other AMG model so far. The twin-turbo unit will probably crank out the same 603 horsepower and 664 pound-feet of torque as in the S63 version of the S-Class sedan. If this is true, the new GLS S63 will get an extra 26 horsepower and 103 pound-feet over its predecessor.

Whether AMG will offer a more powerful S65 version with the big 6.0-liter V-12 engine remains a mystery for now. If it happens, the GLS S65 could arrive with 621 horsepower and a whopping 740 pound-feet of torque.

2019 Mercedes-AMG GLS63
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Mercedes is also considering an AMG GLS73 version, in which the 4.0-liter V-8 would be paired with an electric motor

Word has it Mercedes is also considering an AMG GLS73 model, in which the 4.0-liter V-8 would be paired with an electric motor. This model would be similar to EQ Boost models wearing the "53" badge, but with a lot more power due to the 3.0-liter six-cylinder being replaced with the V-8. While the six-cylinder EQ Boost drivetrain in the AMG CLS63 and the base AMG GT 4-Door delivers 429 horsepower and 384 pound-feet, the V-8 EQ Boost system is said to offer around 800 horsepower. It may sound ludicrous, but this drivetrain already exists, as it has been showcased in the Mercedes-AMG GT Concept in 2017.

All drivetrains will mate to the latest AMG-prepped nine-speed automatic transmission, while the 4Matic all-wheel-drive system will be standard on the GLS63 model. The latter should be able to hit 60 mph from a standing start in less than four seconds. Towing capacity should be in excess of 7,500 pounds.

Mercedes-AMG GLS63 Prices

Pricing for the next-generation AMG GLS63 will increase compared to the outgoing model. The latter retails for $125,300, so expect the new performance SUV to fetch close to $130,000 before options.

Mercedes-AMG GLS63 Competition

Land Rover Range Rover SVAutobiography

2018 Land Rover Range Rover SVAutobiography Exterior Wallpaper quality
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There’s no doubt that Range Rover models are just as luxurious as their Mercedes-Benz counterparts, but the British SUV is also the only one that can deliver similar performance. While Land Rover offers gasoline and diesel V-6 engines on lower-priced models, the top trims use supercharged, 5.0-liter, V-8 powerplants. The SVAutobiography is the most powerful option, as the V-8 cranks out a solid 557 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque. Sure, it’s not as powerful as the GLS S63, and it’s definitely slower to 60 mph with a 5.1-second benchmark, but that’s the best option you have right now. Unfortunately, this model is a lot more expensive than the Merc, retailing from $177,200. Go with the long-wheelbase model and the sticker jumps to a whopping $207,900.

Read our full review of the 2018 Land Rover Range Rover SVAutobiography.

BMW X7 M

2017 BMW X7 Computer Renderings and Photoshop
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The trouble with the X7 M is that it doesn’t exist yet. Actually, the X7 has yet to be released either. Although the GLS is often compared to the X5, the truth is that BMW’s current flagship SUV is significantly smaller than the Merc. The Munich-based firm will finally have a proper competitor when the X7 arrives by the end of 2018, but an M version has yet to be announced. Sure, BMW would be mad not to build one, but given the fact that there isn’t an M7 to go against the Mercedes-AMG S63, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the X7 M left out of the equation. But, there’s a big chance it will happen, and the X7 M should be more than capable of giving the GLS63 a run for its money. Power should come from the company’s twin-turbo, 4.4-liter, V-8 engine and output will probably be rated at around 600 horsepower and 600 pound-feet of torque. This model won’t be unveiled before the 2020 model year though. The performance SUV should cost at least $125,000.

Read our speculative review of the 2019 BMW X7.

Conclusion

2019 Mercedes-AMG GLS63
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There’s still a lot of mystery surrounding the upcoming GLS63, but it’s pretty clear that Mercedes-Benz still rules this niche on the performance front. The outgoing GLS63 is already well ahead of the Range Roger SVAutobiography performance-wise, and it looks as if nothing will stop the Merc until BMW launched the X7 M. This is good for business, but things could go wrong if Mercedes doesn’t play its cards right. The Germans need to keep in mind that BMW might develop the X7 M and that maybe Range Rover will launch an SVR version of its full-size SUV. In order to succeed, the AMG GLS63 needs to remain on top when the competition arrives.

  • Leave it
    • * Too heavy for track use?
    • * BMW X7 M likely underway

References

2017 Mercedes-AMG GLS63 – Driven High Resolution Exterior
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Read our full driven review on the 2017 Mercedes-AMG GLS63.

2017 Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class High Resolution Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2017 Mercedes-Benz GLS.

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Read more Mercedes-Benz news.

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