Late last year Mercedes-Benz launched the AMG GLE 63 S – a direct, in-your-face challenge to the BMW X6 M in a very niche segment that right now literally only comprises these two performance CUV coupes.

Mercedes arrive a little late to the game, as BMW are on their second generation now, but given the wild success of the X6, it was only a matter of time before Mercedes decided to get in on the action. So, how have they faired? Well, for starters, the GLE 63 S boasts a delicious big biturbo V8 that roars and CITY RIDES snarls like a whipped lion. You’ll have a grin from ear to ear every time you punch the throttle – your neighbours will hate you, but you won’t care a jot.

The 5.5l V8 puts out 577hp through the excellent seven-speed AMG SPEEDSHIFT transmission, which boasts lightning-fast gear changes. And despite its size and high stance, it really feels like a sports car, with huge amounts of grip and a 40/60 front-rear torque split helping it get round corners. Even in normal drive mode there’s aggressiveness to the throttle that makes it feel like it just wants to race, ALL the time. For petrol heads like us, it was a delight, but I can imagine it might scare the more timid driver. Like any AMG, it’s not for the faint-hearted!

The electric steering is excellent – many lament the spread of electric steering for it’s lack of feedback and precision, but the GLE’s steering feels as precise as a surgeon’s scalpel.

Having said all that, there is a fair amount of body roll to this CUV coupe, with the front dipping under heavy braking, and the car really sitting on its haunches when you floor it from standstill. In doing so, however, you’ll be hitting 100km/h in about four seconds, so you won’t really think about it too much! There also could have been more feel to the brakes, which felt a little soft.

Though the exterior styling, we feel, is going to polarise opinions, it’s going to appeal to enough people to make it a success, much like the X6. However, on the interior there will be no debate at all – it’s superb. Stylish and invitingas only a Mercedes can be, and despite the coupe roofline, there’s decent room in the rear seats that all but the tallest among us will feel comfortable in.

Because of the sloping roofline there is a slight issue with rear visibility when parking, but this is largely addressed with the excellent rear and 360° topdown parking cameras which guide you into any spot with amazing accuracy. There is also an impressive amount of boot space,making the GLE a viable family car option. The Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S Coupe is going to straddle two worlds nicely – it’ll appeal to a younger crowd who want something sporty with SUV dimensions, but it will also satisfy people with families who want both excitement AND practicality. This is a car you can cover real distance in, and enjoy every minute of the drive!