German automakers have among the industry’s most loyal customers. In J.D. Power’s initial loyalty survey last year, Lexus led return customer ratings among luxury brands with 47.6%. Mercedes-Benz was second (44.2%), followed by BMW (43.6%), Porsche (43.5%) and Audi (43.3%).
What the prominent data intelligence company can’t and shouldn’t be expected to determine is whether automotive loyalty has a financial ceiling. When a customer decides to sell their Mercedes-Benz, will they still purchase a new model, regardless of price?
A key example is the 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLS 63. It’s the high-performance, customized version of the Mercedes-Benz GLS series that debuted in 2017. The 2021 base price is about $10,000 more than the new model from five years ago. With all options included, the just-released beast can exceed $153,000.
With the debut of super luxury and supercar SUVs— Bentley to Lamborghini, Land Rover to Maserati—far more expensive SUVs are on the market. The 2021 debut of the SUV’s third edition combines plenty into one vehicle. It’s as rugged as any Mercedes, but it’s also luxurious, refined, versatile (three rows of seating), off-road capable and performance-oriented.
A 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8 producing 603 horsepower is new, and it’s matched with a nine-speed automatic transmission. The GLS 63 also has a small electric motor/ generator that produces 21 horsepower, used to assist in upshifting and automatic restarts and control idle speed.
The SUV’s quiet, powerful driving personality is also assisted by the manufacturer’s 4Matic all-wheel-drive system, and 50% of the power can automatically be transferred to the front wheels in slippery road conditions.
The new vehicle has a wheelbase that’s 5 inches longer and is a foot longer overall. For economy, the automatic’s restarts after long intersections or stoplights are seamless, and six driving modes are offered to complement the GLS 63’s impressive performance. The new SUV also features a top-line interior. Nappa leather, heated and vented front seats, a panoramic moonroof and several other stand-alone features elevate the GLS 63’s status—and its price. The multi-spoke, 23-inch forged wheels and Burmester sound system are the most expensive options, both $4,550.
The GLS 63’s Emerald Green Metallic exterior paint option attracts a lot of comments. It’s a chameleon-like choice, glistening a handsome deep green in the sun, a seriously dark black in the shade.
One observer commented: “That’s an elegant car. I wouldn’t drive it unless I was wearing a tailored suit.” The Mercedes-AMG 63 exudes class and craftsmanship. But is it worth the money? Likely only for brand loyalists. A tailored suit is not supplied.