Shootout: Mercedes GL63 AMG vs Range Rover Sport V8
Price OTR Mumbai: Rs. 2.15 crore (Mercedes GL 63 AMG), Rs. 2.14 crore (Ranger Rover Sport 5.0L V8)
Both of these heavy weight luxury SUVs perform flawlessly, offering ample driving fun.
The craze for SUVs is just tremendous the world over, whether it’s in the compact segment or in the full blown oversized space, SUVs are the in thing today as they offer multiple skills in just one body style, making them extremely practical. Perhaps no other SUV offers as much as the Mercedes-Benz GL63 AMG and Land Rover’s Range Rover Sport, as both these vehicles can take your family in utmost comfort on a weekend while also making you grin with the driving fun they offer. Priced very similarly to each other and plonked with a big fat V8 engine under their belly, both the GL63 AMG and Range Rover Sport are SUVs which define what can be achieved when you push the sheer boundaries of engineering to the limit. So when Mercedes decided to bring its high performance SUV from Affalterbacht to our country, we just had to put the award winning Range Rover Sport head on against it.
Motor Quest: Both the Range Rover Sport and Mercedes GL-Class are in their second generation, with the first gen models debuting in 2005 and 2006 respectively. Both these SUVs have done extremely well for their respective manufacturers in most markets.
Styling – Contrary to what you may believe, it’s actually the GL63 AMG which is bigger than the Range Rover Sport. Yep, that’s right, the GL is longer and taller while the Rangie is wider. Dimensions aside, the GL63 AMG has a more sporty flair to it as the performance Mercedes comes with bits and bobs from AMG, including a body kit and quad exhausts pipes. The Range Rover Sport on other hand has typical Land Rover design cues in it, like the clamshell bonnet and a boxy look which has now become iconic for this British SUV. While the GL63 AMG has some serious presence, it’s the Land Rover which draws more glares and stares at it, because not only is it more exquisite, the Range Rover Sport also has more smooth flowing proportions which make it truly stand out on our roads.
Interiors – On the inside too, both cars flaunt their very best, the cabin has the best of materials and comfort is of high priority but the Merc feels better put together. While the Sport is way more feature loaded, the GL is more practical (but not as unique as it shares its parts with cheaper Mercs) as it comes with seven seats as standard and you can fold down seats with a touch of a button. The GL is also the more spacious of the two, with its longer wheelbase helping yield more interior room. The AMG bits in the cabin of the GL63 amplify the sportiness of the cabin while the Range Rover Sport already has a very appealing dashboard with high focus on the driver (everything is in reach). Mercedes’ infotainment system is better but the Sport’s Meridian sound system is just excellent. In terms of aesthetics and equipment, the Range Rover Sport wins but the GL63 AMG is the more practical SUV here with more space and it also offers more ease of use.
Performance – Perhaps the comparison between both these SUVs makes the most sense when you compare the powertrains. The GL63 AMG weighs slightly more than the Range Rover Sport but negating the weight disadvantage is higher output, the big Benz’ 5.5-litre twin-turbo V8 thrusting out 557 AMG bred horses and 760 Nm of torque. The Range Rover Sport uses a 5.0-litre Supercharged V8 motor that belts out 510 PS of peak power and 625 Nm of twisting force. The higher output from the GL63 AMG does result in the German SUV being quicker here, taking a claimed 4.9 seconds to whizz past the ton from a standstill. The Sport is slightly slower with a 5.3 second time although both cars will top out at the same 250 km/hr speed which they have been limited to.
While the GL63 AMG is without doubt faster to the ton, the gap narrows down as speeds go higher. The Range Rover Sport is the better sounding vehicle with its supercharger whine being a delight to the ears. Sure the Benz has the AMG rumble but its quite subdued inside the cabin, while Land Rover has made sure you can hear all of those 510 horses shouting it out when you go full beans. The Sport also redlines higher (6800 RPM against 6400 RPM of the GL63) and that really does make you admire the Supercharged mill more. The 8-speed ZF gearbox on the Range Rover Sport is marginally better than the GL63’s 7-speed unit, shifting gears with lightening speed. Both cars would blip the throttle on downshift but the Range Rover is just better at it. While both cars come with steering mounted paddles, you can shift gears using the console mounted shift lever on the Sport, making it more fun when on the limit.
Driving Dynamics – What really makes these two SUVs stand apart from other SUVs is their sporty dynamics. While neither will give you the same levels of driving fun as a sports car, they both come close which is itself a big achievement. The GL63 AMG is the heavier car and that does rob away its agility to a certain extent. The Range Rover Sport is just the better car to push around corners, it remains terrifically more composed and eager to dive into every twisting tarmac. The Range Rover Sport also trumps the GL63 AMG in terms of steering feel, the Land Rover’s unit having much more feel and feedback with quickness which can surprise you plenty. That said, the GL63 AMG isn’t bad at all (in fact it’s very good in its own way), it’s just the Range Rover is more sportier to drive and more involving too. The torque vectoring system really works in keeping body roll to a minimum and agility to the maximum.
Both cars have a good ride quality, the Range Rover Sport bettering the GL63 AMG yet again. The Rangie continues to outdo the Merc when it comes to off-roading too. The GL63 can off-road but with Land Rover genes on its side, the Range Rover Sport is just more capable off the road. Various systems help the Land Rover conquer terrains and the Auto Terrain Response System 2 is just a gem, making life so easy in muck and mud, that it almost feels unreal. While the GL63 AMG stops quicker than the Range Rover Sport, thanks to stronger brakes, the Supercharged car has the better feel on the pedal, evoking much more confidence to push harder. Both cars have applaud worthy high speed stability, you don’t feel a thing even with your right foot firmly put down and the car travelling on the northern side of 100 km/hr.
Verdict – There is little doubt that the GL63 AMG is the more practical vehicle here, as it has seven seats, more space and a much larger service network. The GL63 AMG also has that sense of luxury which Mercedes cars are known for, which itself is worth in gold, as you bask in the luxury of the three pointed star. However, when you look at both these cars from a performance point of view, it’s amply clear the Range Rover Sport is the more fun. Land Rover’s latest has been all over the place, conquering things from Pikes Peak to the Empty Quarter, showcasing its dynamic ability profusely. While both these heavy weight, go-fast machines cost the same, the Range Rover Sport will turn out to be more expensive as quite a lot of kit (like Auto Terrain Response, Torque Vectoring, last row of seats) is optional. In spite of that, the Range Rover Sport is still more feature loaded, it drives better than the GL63 AMG and is more desirable. No wonder then, the “fastest, most agile, most responsive Land Rover ever” wins this shootout.
The GL63 AMG is a power packed SUV with excellent comfort and performance. The Range Rover Sport is better equipped and more agile, making it the more involving SUV to drive of the two. Both these SUVs score heavily in terms of performance and dynamics, you simply can’t go wrong with either.
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