After comparing the Tesla Model Y to BMW’s high-performance SUVs a couple of weeks ago, and the more practical but less fun Lexus RX 350 last week, I noticed Mercedes is just coming out with a new performance SUV this summer as a 2021 model year SUV and thought I would compare it to the Model Y Performance.
Car and Driver published a review that I used to gather specifications and driving impressions. A few weeks ago, we published a size comparison to the Mercedes-Benz GLC 300 and it just isn’t as spacious as the Model Y — with 10 cubic feet less in cargo space, 1 inch less legroom in the front seat, and 3.2 inches less legroom in the rear — even though the pricing matches up more closely. Below, I’ll go over why I think the Model Y will be comparable for many people who would look at the GLE AMG 63 S Coupe, and then compare specs and expected cost of ownership.
To get a better idea of the features and style of the car, I watched a couple of YouTube videos of the non-coupe GLE below.
Now, let’s look at the specifications. Some are estimated since this model is not yet available.
I decided to leave the BMW and Lexus specs in the table, although they are not part of this review. It appears the GLE is closer to the Model Y Performance than the smaller GLC. The exterior dimensions of the GLE are larger, with the car 3 inches longer, 4 inches wider, and 6 inches higher than the Model Y, but the interior space is similar. The only significant difference is the shoulder room is 4 inches more in the GLE. The cargo space in the GLE is 7.3 cubic feet less than the Model Y. Although, if you don’t get the coupe, it is about 10 cubic feet more. Once again, the Model Y gives you the space of a boxy-looking SUV with the sleek looks of a sporty coupe! Both BMW and Mercedes make you choose space or sporty looks, while Tesla gives you both!
The AMG 63 S Coupe ends up being very similar to the BMW X6M, which means very different from the Model Y. The Model Y is again 8 times more fuel efficient. The previous generation of this vehicle built from 2012 had a 5.5 liter V8 engine (also with twin turbos). Even though the new engine is 1.5 liters smaller, it produces 26 more horsepower (603 hp vs. 577 hp) and shaves 0.2 seconds off the 0 to 60 mph time. But as we have seen again and again with gas cars, if you want high performance, you have to give up fuel economy. The Tesla doesn’t make you make that choice. Well, I guess you do lose a bit of range and efficiency if you pick the Model Y with 21 inch wheels.
The AMG has a new mild hybrid motor, but it seems to offer very small incremental benefits. To me, it is just something else that can go wrong in a car that is already very complex. The small incremental improvements that gas cars get after spending billions on research really show why it is time to quit throwing good money into engineering tiny improvements in gas engines for insignificant benefits. On the other hand, I will be reviewing a Toyota RAV4 plug-in hybrid and I do think it is an example of a hybrid that hits the sweet spot. I’ll explain my reason for thinking that in a future article.
The following Car and Driver quote from the AMG review reminds me of one of the favorite features of all Tesla vehicles — you are always in the right gear to GO!
“Even in its most aggressive Race drive mode, the gearbox tends to upshift entering corners and is often caught napping in too high a ratio. Activating the nine-speed’s manual mode remedies this by allowing you to hold gears to the engine’s 7000-rpm rev limiter, but downshifts are still lazier than we’d like.”
The AMG Coupe does have some wins. It has a generous towing capacity and 1.4 inches more ground clearance than the Model Y.
Editor’s note: For more insight on the Tesla Model Y, you can join a webinar, including Q&A, with a new owner next Saturday by becoming a CleanTechnica Member. I’ll send out the webinar invite to subscribers via email on Monday and Wednesday.
The Mercedes-AMG GLE Coupe is aimed at the traditional buyer who wants a detailed interior with lots of buttons, real leather, wood surfaces, and a just a few updates compared to previous models. The Tesla Model Y is aimed at people ready to jump into the 21st century with both feet. It rewrites the rules to compete in the luxury SUV space. It says you can have sleek looks and lots of cargo room. It says you can seat 7 in your top-trim model (next year). It says you can have outstanding fuel efficiency and outstanding performance. It promises class-leading safety with reduced rollover risk that you get with the low center of gravity of its skateboard architecture.
I see the AMG 63 S only as a good option for those in 3 categories:
- You need a high-performance SUV and need more towing that the 5,000 pounds the Model X can tow. The Model Y will probably be able to tow in the future, but some people need a solution now.
- You prefer the traditional interior and controls of the Mercedes and don’t mind paying the high price.
- You want the car to show off your wealth or to give people the impression you have more money than you have. Since the Tesla Model Y is such a great value to buy and own, it will be known as a popular vehicle for upper-middle-class people, not a toy for the rich. If you don’t want that high-tech, modern image, but prefer more of an old-money image, then the Model Y isn’t for you.
One of reviews I saw on the AMG 63 S said it was a no-compromise SUV. By that, they meant you get sports car performance and SUV seating and cargo capacity. The Model Y gives you those two items, plus so much more. You get the Tesla’s much lower initial price, lower maintenance costs, lower fuel costs, and lower depreciation rates. You get Tesla’s unequaled record of safety for your family and a possibility of full self driving in the future, without the need to buy a new car. You get Tesla’s low impact on our environment and will be welcomed into the quickly growing family of diverse people, all with a love of new technology!
If you decide to order a Tesla, use a friend’s referral code to get 1,000 miles of free Supercharging on a Tesla Model S, Model X, or Model 3 (you can’t use it on the Model Y or Cybertruck yet). Now good for $250 (up from $100) off on solar, too! If you don’t have any friends with a Tesla, use mine: https://ts.la/paul92237
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