New platform and 4.0-liter V-8 engine with more than 600 horsepower

The 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLS 63 is an upcoming high-performance version of the third-generation GLS. Just like its predecessor, the AMG-prepped GLS boasts a sportier exterior, unique features inside the cabin, and a more powerful drivetrain built around a turbocharged V-8 engine. The AMG-tuned mill cranks out 603 horsepower, which makes one of the most powerful premium SUVs on the market. While the standard GLS has plenty of competition to go against, including the BMW X7, Cadillac Escalade, and Lincoln Navigator, 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 an M version of the X7. From this standpoint, the 2021 AMG GLS 63 is a unique full-size SUV on the market and enables Mercedes-Benz to continue to dominate the niche in the high-performance realm. Let’s see what the new AMG GLS 63 has in store for us.

  • 2020 Mercedes-AMG GLS 63
  • Year:
    2020
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    V8
  • Horsepower @ RPM:
    603
  • Torque @ RPM:
    627
  • Displacement:
    4.0 L
  • 0-60 time:
    4.1 sec.
  • Top Speed:
    174 mph
  • Price:
  • car segment:
  • size:
  • Purpose:
  • body style:

Mercedes-AMG GLS63 Exterior

  • Borrows from the standard GLS
  • Panamericana grille
  • Aggressive bumper design
  • Large air vents
  • Sportier styling
  • Wide, lightweight wheels
  • New paint options
  • Sporty rear diffuser
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Just like its predecessor, the AMG GLS63 stands out through a series of sportier design elements and a handful of extra standard features that you can’t get with the regular GLS. The most distinctive feature is the AMG front grille with vertical slats in chrome. Inspired by the Panamericana grille, it’s larger than grilles on other AMG models.

The bumper is also sportier than the regular GLS, thanks to larger side vents with deeper cutouts, two-tone, black-and-chrome surrounds, and carbon fiber inserts. The already iconic A-shaped bumper is backed by a trapezoidal opening in the center and a splitter-like element below. The engine hood features contoured power domes that round off the sporty look. Unlike the regular GLS, the AMG model is equipped with Dynamic LED headlamps with Adaptive High Beam Assist as standard.

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The profile isn’t all that different than the standard GLS. Mercedes brags that this model comes with flared wheel arches, but they’re not that beefed-up. The more noticeable change here is the fact that the wheel arches are finished in body color instead of black. The same goes for the side sills and the upper mirror caps. Other highlights include window surrounds in chrome and 21-inch AMG multi-spoke wheels. If you like larger rollers, Mercedes offers 22- and 23-inch rims on the options list.

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Only three special features set the AMG model apart from the regular GLS in the back. There’s "AMG" and "GLS 63" lettering on the upper tailgate, a sporty diffuser at the bottom of the bumper, and a quad exhaust layout in which the trapezoidal pipes of the regular model were cut in half.

Finally, Mercedes-Benz offers the AMG Night Package, a bundle that replaces some chrome and body-colored elements with high-gloss black. Blacked-out parts include the front bumper trim and splitter, mirror caps, and trim strip in the rear bumper. The package also includes anodized window surrounds, black-chrome exhaust tailpipes, and light-alloy wheels painted in matte black.

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
  • Genuine wood trim
  • Big trunk
  • Heated seats
  • 7-seat option
2020 Mercedes-AMG GLS 63 Interior
- image 874897

*** Most surfaces are covered in Nappa leather, but the AMG SUV also features high-gloss anthracite limewood ***

As seen in other AMG models, this SUV shares its interior with the standard model. But it is based on a higher trim, so it will come standard with Nappa leather on the dashboard and the door panels instead of cloth. The former carries over with its S-Class-inspired design, including the three-tier layout, A/C vents on the center stack, a massive displays behind the steering wheel and another one in the center stack. As seen in the regular GLS, the S-Class’ round air vents were replaced with rectangular outlets, while the instrument cluster and infotainment displays are flanked by bigger vents on each side. The 12.3-inch displays set next to each other come standard.

Most surfaces are covered in Nappa leather, but the AMG SUV also features high-gloss anthracite limewood for a bit of flair. The three-spoke AMG steering wheel looks sportier than the standard unit thanks to a flattened lower section, aluminum shift paddles, and "AMG" lettering. It also features a button for the AMG Drive Unit as standard. This steering wheel also includes the touch-sensitive buttons that debuted in the regular model. The wheel now detects horizontal and vertical swipes, just like the screen of a smartphone or tablet, making it easier to interact with the infotainment system.

2020 Mercedes-AMG GLS 63 Interior
- image 874890

***You can opt for individual captains seats and armrests in the second row ***

The steering wheel isn’t the only component that feels sportier inside the cabin. Mercedes also equipped the SUV with sports pedal in brushed stainless steel with rubber studs, floor mats with "AMG" lettering, and illuminated side sill, also with AMG lettering.

The standard front seats were replaced with AMG units that offer enhanced lateral support and feature unique upholstery with AMG badges. But these seats are also equipped with climate and massage functions, so you’ll feel comfortable no matter the season.

The second row can provide seating for two or three people. The standard layout features a three-person bench, but you can opt for individual captains’s seats and armrests. No matter the layout, the second-row seats are heated as standard. If you go with the two-seat second row, there will be easier access to the third-row. Yes, the AMG model is available with third-row seats, which takes total capacity up to seven people. Third-row seats aren’t heated as standard, but you can add this feature from the options list.

2020 Mercedes-AMG GLS 63 Interior
- image 874899

*** The instrument cluster features specific AMG content, including a new display mode ***

The instrument cluster is also a bit different than the standard model, as it now features specific AMG content, such as the Race timer feature and a choice of four display styles. The "Supersport" style joins the already familiar "Modern Classic," "Sport," and "Discreet."

The infotainment system features the MBUX operating system. It displays information on both screens, and it includes many segment-leading functions. The Interior Assistant, for instance, allows intuitive operation of different functions by movement recognition via a camera placed in the overhead. When a hand approaches the touchscreen or the touchpad on the center console, the system is able to distinguish whether it’s yours or the front passenger’s. The MBUX is also able to learn thanks to artificial intelligence.

Of course, the AMG GLS 63 is fitted with all the cool convenience features found in the more expensive GLS trim. There’s Air-Balance package, the Energizing bundle, and the Warmth and Comfort package, all of which raise the level of luxury for rear-seat passengers as well. The high-end Burmester sound system is available for audiophiles.

2020 Mercedes-AMG GLS 63 Interior
- image 874898

Trunk space remains unchanged compared to the regular model, so you can stuff 18.5 cubic feet of luggage behind the third-row seats. That’s a whopping 5.7 cubic feet more than the BMW X7. Fold the rear seats, and you can get up to 48.7 cubic feet of cargo room. That’s on par with the X7, rated at 48.6 cubic feet. With just the front row in place, capacity jumps to a whopping 84.7 cubic feet, 5.7 below the BMW X7 in the same configuration.

Mercedes-AMG GLS63 Performance

  • 4.0-liter V-8 engine
  • 603 horsepower
  • 627 pound-feet of torque
  • EQ Boost with 184 pound-feet
  • Nine-speed automatic transmission
  • 4Matic all-wheel drive
  • 0 to 60 in 4.1 seconds
  • Top speed at 174 mph
2020 Mercedes-AMG GLS 63 Exterior
- image 874889

*** The twin-turbo powerplant generates a solid 603 horsepower and 627 pound-feet of torque ***

The AMG GLS 63 comes equipped with the familiar 4.0-liter V-8 prepped by the company’s performance division. The twin-turbo powerplant generates a solid 603 horsepower and 627 pound-feet of torque, a rating that puts it above any other GLS model. Specifically, it delivers an extra 120 horsepower and an extra 111 pound-feet of twist compared to the GLS 580. It also packs more punch than the Mercedes-Maybach GLS 500 model, rated at 550 horsepower and 538 pound-feet. That’s an extra 53 horses and 81 pound-feet.

Just like its non-AMG siblings, the GLS 63 features an integrated EQ Boost starter generates. This unit powers the 48-volt electrical system, and its boost function provides additional power assistance at low engine speeds. It also provides an extra 21 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque, similar to other GLS models. When in use, it increases the SUV’s total output to a whopping 624 and 811 pound-feet of twist.

Naturally, the AMG GSL 63 is the quickest SUV in the lineup. The hauler takes 4.1 seconds to accelerate from 0 to 60 mph, 1.1 seconds quicker than the GLS 580, and 0.7 seconds faster than the Maybach GLS 600 model.

It also boasts the highest top speed at 174 mph. However, this is only available with the optional Driver’s Package. In standard trim, the AMG GLS 63 is limited to 155 mph, just like the GLS 580 and Maybach GLS 600.

Like every other GLS out there, the AMG 63 features a nine-speed automatic transmission. However, this unit has been optimized for the beefed-up engine and shifts quicker than its sibling. Upshifts and downshifts are implemented almost instantly, whether you’re using the fully automatic setup for the manual configuration via the shift paddles behind the steering wheel.

The four-wheel-drive 4Matic system is standard, and its features fully variable torque distribution from 0:100 to 50:50, along with an AMG electronic rear-axle locking differential. The latter links the driven rear axle with the front axle and calculates the ideal torque distribution depending on driving conditions. When needed, it can shift all torque to the front or the rear or distribute it equally to all for wheels for optimum traction.

2020 Mercedes-AMG GLS 63 Exterior
- image 874892

*** The four-wheel-drive 4Matic system is standard and its features fully variable torque distribution ***

The GLS 63 rides on the AMG Ride Control+ suspension as standard. This air suspension features a special spring and damper set-up and adaptive adjustable damping. The characteristics of the dampers can be preselected in three stages, including "Comfort," "Sport," and "Sport+." It also features a self-leveling system that enables the SUV to maintain a constant level regardless of the load. The ride height is lowered by 0.4 inches when selecting the "Sport" and "Sport+" program. In the "Comfort" drive program, the vehicle is not lowered until speed exceeds 75 mph and is raised back to normal the speed falls below 44 mph.

Stopping power comes from AMG-tuned brakes with 15.7-inch ventilated and perforated discs in the front and 14.6-inch discs in the rear. The front axle features fixed six-piston calipers, while the rear comes with floating one-piston calipers.

Safety and Driving assist features

2020 Mercedes-AMG GLS 63 Exterior
- image 874902

The AMG GLS 63 features a wide range of driver assistance features as standard. Just like the regular SUV, it can autonomously maintain its speed and the distance to the vehicle in front as well as stay in lane on multi-lane roads. It will also reduce the speed autonomously according to the traffic situation, like when approaching towns, bends, roundabouts, junctions, or traffic jams. It will warn you in various situations, like when there a risk of a collision, when you’re too close to the car in front, and if it’s not safe to get out of the vehicle in a parking space.

The Active Stop-and-Go Assist feature will take control of various functions at speeds of up to 37 mph and in heavy traffic. It will maintain the distance to the vehicle in front while stopping and starting the SUV repeatedly, and it will help form a "rescue corridor" for emergency vehicles on multi-lane roads.

The following assistance systems are equipped as standard:

  • Active Distance Assist DISTRONIC
  • Active Speed Limit Assist
  • Traffic Sign Assist
  • Route-based speed adjustment
  • Active Steering Assist with Active Lane Change Assist and "emergency corridor" functions
  • Evasive Steering Assist
  • Active Lane Keeping Assist
  • Active Blind Spot Assist with exit warning
  • Active Brake Assist with turning maneuver function and cross-traffic function
    PRE-SAFE PLUS

Mercedes-AMG GLS63 Prices

2020 Mercedes-AMG GLS 63 Exterior
- image 874894

Pricing for the next-generation AMG GLS 63 is not yet available, but expect it to increase compared to the outgoing model. The latter retailed from $125,300, so the new performance SUV will probably fetch at least $130,000 before options.

Mercedes-AMG GLS63 Competition

BMW X7 M

2019 BMW X7 Exterior
- image 800445

The trouble with the X7 M is that it doesn’t exist yet. While BMW joined the full-size segment with the X7 in 2018, it has yet to confirm an M version. 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 2021 model year, though. The performance SUV should cost at least $125,000. For the time being, there’s the X7 M50i as an option. This SUV is powered by a 4.4-liter V-8 that cranks out 523 horsepower and 553 pound-feet of torque. The sprint to 60 mph takes 4.5 seconds.

Read our speculative review of the 2021 BMW X7 M

Land Rover Range Rover SVAutobiography

2018 Land Rover Range Rover SVAutobiography Exterior Wallpaper quality
- image 747491

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 63, 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 2019 Land Rover Range Rover SVAutobiography

Conclusion

2020 Mercedes-AMG GLS 63 Exterior
- image 874905

The redesigned AMG GLS 63 arrives to continue the tradition that Mercedes-Benz kicked off in 2013 when it launched the first iteration of this vehicle. And although it’s been around for six years as of 2019, it remains the only solid option in this niche. Neither BMW nor Range Rover offer similarly powerful versions yet, so the AMG GLS 63 has next to no competition to worry about. This doesn’t mean that it can’t fail, but based on what the standard GLS has to offer, the AMG 63 model should continue its successful career into the new generation.

  • Leave it
    • Too heavy for track use?
    • BMW X7 M likely underway
Ciprian Florea
Senior Editor and Supercar Expert - ciprian@topspeed.com
Ciprian's passion for everything with four wheels (and more) started back when he was just a little boy, and the Lamborghini Countach was still the coolest car poster you could hang on your wall. Ciprian's career as a journalist began long before earning a Bachelor's degree, but it was only after graduating that his love for cars became a profession.  Read More
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