Here, behind the gates of the thrill-seeker paradise that’s Screamer’s Park, you’ll find the Daytona Slingshot. It’s hard to miss; it’s right next to the aptly named Vomitron. I kid you not.
Pay your $25, get strapped in, and feel the thrust of 40 tons of spring pressure as you get catapulted 365 feet straight up. With vertical acceleration of up to 5g, your chances of experiencing vasovagal syncope — fainting from a drop in blood pressure — are exceedingly high.
A ride on Slingshot is a perfect way of prepping yourself for the equally explosive, nerve-jangling acceleration of this brand new 603-horsepower GLE 63 S super SUV. Engage Sport+, press hard on the brake pedal with your left foot while mashing the throttle with your right. Then release.
With all-wheel drive channeling the 627 lb-ft of torque to the blacktop, there’s not a chirp of wheelspin, just the gut-wrenching thrust of this 5,300-pound cruise missile as it slingshots toward the horizon.
Holy-moley it’s fast. Fast as in zero-to-60 acceleration in just 3.7 seconds. Fast as in a top speed of 174 mph. And all this in a family-friendly five-personage luggage-hauler with cupholders.
This truly mind-warping performance is down to the latest iteration of Mercedes-AMG’s hand-assembled 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8. The new twist here is the 48-volt electric motor system — Mercedes calls it EQ Boost — that’s sandwiched between the engine and the nine-speed automatic.
It’s called a mild hybrid, though there’s nothing remotely mild about it. What EQ Boost does is provide an instant jolt of electric muscle — an extra 21 horsepower and impressive 184 lb-ft of torque — for those times you need some real grunt. Like off-the-line acceleration and zipping past slower traffic.
Yet the real beauty here is the V8’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde persona. For those times it’s not acting like the motor out of a top-fuel dragster, it’s a pussycat. Cruise around town, amble along the Interstate, idle away in a Starbucks drive-thru and it plays all quiet and nice. It’ll even deactivate four of its eight cylinders to boost fuel economy.
If all this tire-shredding performance sounds pretty impressive, wait till you hurl this new red-hot GLE along a curvy backroad. With standard AMG Active Ride Control air suspension that includes adaptive damping, the mighty Merc pretty much does away with body roll.
It’s truly other-worldly the way this tall-riding sport ute can fire through a series of squiggly S-bends with the precision and agility of a low-slung two-seat sports car. Talk of understeer and oversteer is redundant, the Merc just goes where you point it. And at ridiculous velocities.
See this new GLE 63 S in the metal and it has the bold looks to match its brain-frying speed. I love that toothy, AMG grille inspired by the old Mercedes Carrera Panamerica racers of the early ’50s. Love that chrome-ringed, air-gulping lower section beneath it.
Throw in some AMG side skirts under the doors, body-painted flared wheel arches at each corner, and a quartet of polished exhaust finishers at the back, and the 63 S looks as muscley as Sly Stallone in his Rocky days.
Inside you get body-hugging AMG perforated nappa leather-trimmed seats, an awesome AMG leather wheel, brushed stainless pedals and some lovely carbon fiber trim. The quality and craftsmanship is just amazing.
Price of entry to the Merc-AMG GLE 63 S kicks off at $114,945 including destination, though as with all Mercedes offerings, it’s all too easy to go crazy with the options list. Our Brilliant Blue Metallic tester stickered at $133,075.
But with its near-supercar levels of performance and handling, coupled with the five-seat versatility and load-carrying practicality of an SUV, this mighty Merc offers the best of all worlds.
And just like that Daytona Slingshot, it’ll definitely take your driving thrills to new heights.
Test drive the Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S at Crown Eurocars of Pinellas Park, Mercedes-Benz of Tampa, Lokey Motors of Clearwater, Mercedes-Benz of Wesley Chapel, and Mercedes-Benz of Sarasota.