It’s the battle of a big trio of SUVs and this time around, we are looking at performance luxury. This is that strata of the market where those who can afford to spend on big wheels want their money´s worth in terms of performance. What we have before us are three modern examples of big badges, big engines, big SUVs and obviously the Go fast bits to match the performance. The new player here is the Mercedes-Benz GLS which has recently been launched in the performance oriented 63 AMG trim. Competing against it is the Range Rover Sport in the V8 SC Autobiography trim and the BMW X5 in the M spec of tune.
If its loud looks you want among the trio, then the GLS is clearly your beast to go to. In standard form, the GLS is a massive vehicle and is a full 300mm longer than the other two in terms of overall length. It gets a big sporty front bumper, massive AMG spec wheels, quad exhausts and of course that famous three-letter badging at the rear to let you know that this car means business.
Coming in second here is the X5M. By virtue of having the automaker’s M badging it gets some extra cosmetic bits like the big bumpers, alloy wheels and quad exhaust pipes. This is pretty much along the lines of what the GLS offers but it’s a bit more subtle. Finally, the Range Rover Sport is unique in design but does not stand out much as compared to the other two as it is a top-of-the-line model of the range and in standard form, it doesn’t get any extra bits to make it stand out.
Given the prices at which these cars exist, they come loaded to the gills with all the standard luxury bits like multi-zone climate control, electrically adjustable leather seats, infotainment systems, multiple cameras and oodles of space inside. Even down to the smaller bits which are usually the points of make or break there is very little to separate the car and you would get similar levels of luxury across all three cars. However, there is one major difference that sets the X5 and GLS apart from the Range Rover Sport which is that with the interiors you get the AMG and M badging respectively. Their little touches include contrast stitching, sports seats, inlaid badging in the seats and on the dashboard, sporty steering wheel and some additional extra to the instrument cluster to make its sporty intentions known.
This is where things get real. Across all three cars, there is a lot of horse power under hood going to all four wheels and here is what the setup looks like. First the GLS, which in the 63AMG trim is offered with a 5.5-litre twin-turbo V8 that produces 577bhp/760Nm with a rear biased AWD system and a seven-speed AMG speed shift transmission.
The X5 gets a V8 but this is a 4.4-litre unit producing 575bhp/750Nm. You get xDrive an eight-speed AT, fettled by the M division to match the performance oriented engine. Finally, you also get a V8 in the Range Rover Sport and it’s a 5.0-litre unit producing 503bhp/625Nm of torque. The transmission is an eight-speed unit and you get AWD as standard for the car.
If you have looked at the figures, you will realise that the X5 is actually the best performing in terms of the engine and adding to that is also the fact that it is the ‘lightest’ of the lot at 2.27-tonnes. It also gets the most advanced suspension setup among the three, making its sporty character as clear as possible.
Do you have a crore-and-a-half to spend on an SUV and want comfort, presence and also some performance to match the looks? Well then, these are your three options. Each have their own selling points and have sufficient USPs to make them individually strong offerings. If you want pure comfort them the GLS is your machine. If rugged is your thing then go for the Range Rover Sport or pick the X5M if you want just speed and practicality.