New platform and 4.0-liter V-8 engine

The 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLS63 is an upcoming high-performance version of the third-generation GLS. While the standard GLS broke cover in early 2019, the AMG variant is still a mystery, but camouflaged test cars have been spotted on public roads since the first months of 2019. Just like its predecessor, the AMG-prepped GLS will boasts a sportier exterior, unique features inside the cabin, and a more powerful drivetrain built around a turbocharged V-8 engine.

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 AMG GLS63 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 upcoming AMG GLS63 might have in store for us.

Spy Shots

March 13, 2019 - Open Road, Dry-Weather Testing in Full Camo

2020 Mercedes-AMG GLS63
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2020 Mercedes-AMG GLS63
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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

*** The bumper is significantly more aggressive than the regular model ***

With so much camo and cladding on the body, it may seem difficult to tell the AMG version apart from the standard GLS, 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 shape and size seems identical to the regular GLS, but the horizontal slats were removed, while the background is now a honeycomb-style mesh. The bumper is also significantly more aggressive than the regular model, with larger intakes on the sides and more muscular features.

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 to be put on the road. The brake calipers are larger too, while the discs are cross-drilled for enhanced performance.

*** The roof line remains boxy, but the quarter window has a rounder frame ***

Everything else looks identical to the regular GLS, starting with the cleaner body panels and the character lines above the beltline and the side skirt area. The roof line remains boxy, but the quarter window has a rounder frame and the D-pillar is thicker. The rear end remains identical to the regular GLS above the bumper, save for a larger spoiler atop the tailgate. A diffuser-like element and a quad exhaust pipe layout in the lower bumper will help set the AMG version apart.

On top of these extra features, AMG will offer extra color options, new wheel designs with larger diameter, and a choice of two or three trim finishes.

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

*** AMG will add new front seats with heavier bolstering ***

As seen in other AMG models, this SUV will share its interior with the standard model. It will be based on a higher trim though, so it will come standard with leather and Alcantara upholstery instead of cloth. The dashboard will carry over with its S-Class-inspired design, including the three-tier layout, A/C vents on the center stack, two massive displays behind the steering wheel and the center, and the wide center console.

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 will be standard.

As previously mentioned, most surfaces will be wrapped in leather, but AMG will add some Alcantara too for a race-inspired look. This soft material should cover the steering wheel and parts of the door panels and seats. The only downside here is that AMG will probably go with a black upholstery. Dark interiors are the norm in Mercedes-AMG, BMW M, and Audi RS models and it’s driving me insane. I wish AMG would offer a more colorful upholstery option for once!

*** The infotainment system will feature the new MBUX operating system ***

The AMG model will also borrow the new steering wheel with touch-sensitive buttons from the regular model. The wheel now detects horizontal and vertical swipes just like the screen of a smartphone or table, making it easier to interact with the infotainment system. Of course, the steering wheel will have sportier specs, but the electronics will remain the same. Speaking of sportier specs, AMG will also add new front seats with heavier bolstering.

There’s no word whether the AMG model will keep the GLS’ seven-seat layout, but it will probably be an option for the standard five-seat configuration. Despite its sporty nature, the AMG GLS63 will be a practical SUV with more than 50 cubic feet of luggage room behind the second row. Once the second-row seats are folded flat, luggage space will increase to at least 90 cubic feet.

*** The AMG GLS63 will be a practical SUV with more than 50 cubic feet of luggage room behind the second row ***

The infotainment system will feature the new 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. MBUX is also able to learn thanks to artificial intelligence.

The tech package will also 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.

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
  • Nine-speed automatic transmission
  • 4Matic all-wheel drive

*** The V-8 will crank out the same 603 horsepower and 664 pound-feet of torque as in the S63 ***

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 is already available in the GLS580 model that’s rated at 483 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque. The mill mates to an EQ Boost, 48-volt electrical system that adds an extra 21 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque.

The AMG GLS63 will deliver more than that, and if other AMG models are any indication, the V-8 will 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 boast an extra 26 horsepower and 103 pound-feet over its predecessor. This rating also accounts for a 120-horsepower and 148-pound-foot increase over the GLS580.

*** All drivetrains will mate to the latest AMG-prepped nine-speed automatic transmission ***

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.

Word has it Mercedes is also considering an AMG GLS73 model, in which the 4.0-liter V-8 would be paired to an EQ Boost, just like in the GLS580. Should specs of the V-8 in the AMG-prepped SUV and the EQ Boost system remain unchanged, the GLS73 could arrive with a maximum output of 624 horsepower and a whopping 848 pound-feet of torque. However, some reports claims that the V-8 EQ Boost system could deliver 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

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 2020 model year though. The performance SUV should cost at least $125,000.

Read our speculative review of the 2019 BMW X7.

Conclusion

2020 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 launches 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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