Why the 2013 Mercedes-Benz GL63 AMG Matters: In the world of insanely powerful luxury SUVs, M-B’s big bruiser offers something that rivals like the Porsche Cayenne S, BMW X5 M and Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 just can’t match: Room for seven. That unique advantage—combined with the inherent performance benefits that come when Motor Trend’s SUV of the Year is massaged by Mercedes’ in-house performance-engineering team—continues as a built-in market advantage for a company that just set an all-time November record for sales.
Even though the 2013 Mercedes-Benz GL63 AMG is just now on the way from its Los Angeles Auto Show premiere to U.S. M-B dealerships, the Mercedes brand sold 30,315 vehicles in November and boosted deliveries by 13.1 percent. And even though the GL63 isn’t likely to add much in the way of volume to that total, it certainly fills an important niche near the top of the Mercedes SUV lineup.
What’s New for the 2013 Mercedes-Benz GL63 AMG:
- A sophisticated powertrain featuring a 5.5-liter biturbo V8 engine and AMG’s SPEEDSHIFT PLUS 7G-TRONIC seven-speed automatic transmission
- Advanced handling technologies including AMG Ride Control, an AIRMATIC air suspension with active dampers, the ACTIVE CURVE SYSTEM with active front and rear anti-sway bars, and 4MATIC full-time all-wheel drive with a new transfer case
- AMG appearance upgrades that range from aggressive fender flares to aluminum-finished running boards
- A full gamut of safety measures, like Crosswind Stabilization, blind-spot and lane-keeping alerts, a 360-degree camera setup and the ATTENTION ASSIST driver-drowsiness alert system
- Distinctive lighting treatments that include LED daytime running lamps
- Massive 21-inch AMG wheels
- AMG-specific front and rear styling cues
- Everything else! (Remember, the GL-Class itself is all-new for the 2013 model year.)
New 2013 Mercedes-Benz GL63 AMG: Styling and Design
The redesigned GL-Class shows off a fairly traditional SUV appearance that’s been overlaid with a dash of restrained German elegance, and the 2013 Mercedes-Benz GL63 AMG continues that effort while taking things to ye olde next level. Thus, the GL63 sets the tone with a bold, relatively vertical grille that’s been finished in gloss black and set off by matte-silver trim along the lower front fascia. Further accenting the vehicle’s front “apron” are three large air intakes, with the two side intakes also hosting the LED DRLs. The result is … different, and certainly helps set the GL63 apart from the rest of the crowd. (In theory, the intake design creates a stylized "A," for "AMG.")
Along the flanks of the 2013 Mercedes-Benz GL63 AMG run sculpted character lines that both visually lengthen the vehicle and provide a subtle emphasis on the rear wheels. And with said wheels being wrapped in 21-inch rubber, as are the fronts, the vehicle also wears new, wider fender flares. As expected, some low-key AMG and “Biturbo” badging makes its appearance, as does a panoramic sunroof.
The luxurious, all-leather interior also gets luxed-up even further, while adding a suite of AMG-branded accoutrements like stainless-steel door sills, brushed stainless-steel pedals, rugged floor mats, and a flat-bottomed, four-spoke sport steering wheel with perforated leather grip areas. A number of accessories packages are available as well, including a “designo” Exclusive package that puts leather sport seating in all three rows.
New 2013 Mercedes-Benz GL63 AMG: What’s Under the Hood
Like all AMG products, each 2013 Mercedes-Benz GL63 AMG is motivated by a hand-built powerplant that’s been painstakingly assembled by a single, highly skilled technician. In this case, that engine is a 5.5-liter direct-injection V8 with twin turbocharging and spray-guided combustion, along with the ability to make 550 hp and 560 lb.-ft. of torque. Packing a standard SPEEDSHIFT PLUS 7G-TRONIC paddle-shifting automatic transmission, the GL63 AMG can get from 0-60 in about 4.8 seconds—despite a curb weight north of 5,600 lbs.—and boasts a top speed of 174 mph.
It’s also worth pointing out that AMG put significant work into helping the vehicle achieve relatively decent efficiency numbers. EPA marks are not yet available, but the Euro-spec 2013 Mercedes-Benz GL63 AMG can top 19 mpg in combined travel, thanks in part to an eco driving mode and stop/start system, and it emits 28.5 percent less CO2 than the vehicle it replaces.
New 2013 Mercedes-Benz GL63 AMG: Features and Technology
When it comes to features and technology, the 2013 Mercedes-Benz GL63 AMG offers an embarrassment of riches, so we’ll concentrate on the gadgetry that helps the vehicle embarrass the competition where it’s supposed to—in the performance department. Beyond an innovative turbocharged engine that is the first of its kind without a diverter valve—a key to the turbocharger’s compact packaging—the GL63 AMG also rides on one of the most versatile and athletic suspensions available in the U.S. today. AMG’s standard RIDE CONTROL system is on board, featuring an AIRMATIC air suspension with revised damper struts, automatic leveling and ACTIVE CURVE technology; the latter can manage the vehicle’s stability in corners by automatically adjusting its active front and rear anti-sway bars.
As an additional handling enhancer, and to enable its non-negligible off-road capabilities, the GL63 AMG also is configured with a standard 4MATIC full-time four-wheel-drive setup, incorporating an exclusive AMG-designed transfer case that delivers 60 percent of the engine’s torque to the rear wheels. The result, according to the automaker: “sports-car handling with impressive all-weather traction.”
Of course, the GL63 AMG also offers a wide range of the usual electronic safety measures, then ups the ante with ATTENTION ASSIST. Leveraging “smart software” to detect driving patterns that may indicate a drowsy pilot, ATTENTION ASSIST provides both audible and visual alerts designed to encourage drivers to stop for a rest.
Other nifty features offered by the 2013 Mercedes-Benz GL63 AMG include:
- Performance steering and braking systems from AMG
- Massage functionality for the driver and front-passenger seats
- A Bang & Olufsen surround-sound audio system
- Integrated navigation technology via the Becker MAP PILOT
- A powered tailgate and EASY-ENTRY second-row seating
- Active Parking Assist
- New off-road lighting technology
New 2013 Mercedes-Benz GL63 AMG: What Autobytel Thinks
If you absolutely have to have a seven-seat, six-figure performance SUV that can (almost) keep up with a BMW M3 coupe, the 2013 Mercedes-Benz GL63 AMG is the perfect choice.