Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S Versus a Workhorse Bakkie | Inspire
Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S Versus a Workhorse Bakkie
Good to Know
Good to Know

Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S Versus a Workhorse Bakkie

The mountains of the Cape - a beautiful environment to observe, but a very challenging one in which to work. This is where members of the Western Cape Forensic Pathology Service spend many hours. These field pathologists venture deep into valleys and gulleys, accessing clues to solve missing person mysteries and bring closure to grieving families.

Understandably, they need super-sharp off-road driving skills to do their jobs – which is why they've gathered at the world-renowned Klipbokkop 4x4 training centre in Worcester to update their off-road prowess. Enabling them is a fleet of a humble yet robust diesel bakkies – the 4x4 of choice for those working, not vacationing, in severe off-road environments. 

Unsurprisingly, the Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S draws a crush of curiosity. The team admires its slanting roofline, purposeful proportions and striking AMG styling. But once the 5.5-litre twin-turbo fires up, curiosity turns to doubt. "Is that going to handle where we're going?" asks one of the field officers. "Well, I certainly hope so," is my optimistic reply.

I have reason to be cautious. Without the benefit of low-range gearing or lockable differentials, and with its ultra low-profile tyres designed for 280km/h speeds on the autobahn, the Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S is supposed to fail at any semblance of 4x4-ability. 

As the assembled pathologists pair into their bakkies, I activate the GLE 63's secret advantage: its AIRMATIC suspension, raising the AMG's terrain clearance to 280mm – which is notably superior to the bakkies' 215mm.

We trundle down to where asphalt crumbles to gravel before the route erodes to powdery sand. At nearly 2 300kg, the GLE S is a substantial SUV and the risk of getting stuck seems a very real possibilty. 

I follow the convoy of diesel bakkies as they churn their way around the route. The GLE 63 S's V8 is barely boosting, the infotainment output display dials never troubling their peak readings of 430kW and 760Nm. This calibre of AMG off-roading is laughably easy and almost embarrassingly comfortable. 

Our convoy rolls to resting point and we disembark from our vehicles. The lead instructor demonstrates recovery techniques with kinetic straps – often the only way for a buddy-pair of vehicles to get moving again if one gets stuck off-road. 

"And if that AMG gets stuck, you'll never get it out," quips one of the pathologists. "Well, actually, this machine rewrites the rule book," I counter. "It has so much power you don't need low-range and can't really get stuck."

To prove this, I take the GLE 63 S helm again before being marshalled into position. The instruction is to set off on a treacherously soft embankment of sand beyond the trail – a perfect spot for getting stuck. There's no idling this time. I use all the throttle pedal's leverage to apply the full 430kW – and the result is a tremendous displacement of sand, accompanied by the AMG's distinctively evocative V8 soundtrack. 

After five minutes of sand mining, I roll to a halt. The group's silence is affirmation that they're suitably impressed. "But I can buy all five our work bakkies for the price of that one AMG," says one. My reponse is diplomatic but factual: "Yes, but the AMG has more power than all five of your bakkies together."

Despite its road-biased tyres, the engineering excellence of the GLE 63 S and its immensely powerful AMG engine make for an unstoppable SUV. Dynamic in its off-road ability. Ballistic in its performance – 0-100kph in 4.2 seconds on-road. And sumptuously comfortable in either. Our favourite AMG of the moment? Absolutely.

See more of the Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S here.



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