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moves delicately in the smallest of spaces. “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee,” Muhammad Ali knew. A technological work of art that clearly underscores the modifier “sport” in the abbreviation “SUV”. In this way we fly along the Mulholland Highway with steely muscles and at the same time a pleasurable ease: The 5.5-liter biturbo V8 realizes its maximum torque of 760 Newton meters through direct response without noticeable effort. It greedily eats bend after bend. The immense rigidity of the body of the new AMG provides for a very crisp driving experience. One that can be made even more intense: DYNAMIC SELECT offers five levels of damping characteristics via a rotary control in the center console: Slippery. Individual. Comfort. Sport and Sport Plus. The AMG SPEEDSHIFT PLUS 7G-TRONIC supports each of these modes with lightning speed. To that end, the air suspension system reacts depending on speed. At each individual wheel. A blessing when it comes to the road conditions on Mulholland Drive. WWhen we suddenly catch sight of a saxophone player on a bluff beside the road, we let the car slow to a standstill on a plateau ahead and enjoy the melody of deceleration for a moment. The man sends his version of the title track to the Hollywood classic The Godfather into the valley. How fitting. Marlon Brando, the star of the film, once lived up here on Mulholland. Just like Faye Dunaway, John Lennon, Jack Nicholson, Demi Moore, and of course David Lynch, director of the Hollywood epic Mulholland Drive. “It’s a mysterious road,” Lynch once said. “It was built long ago, and has not changed much since. At night, you ride on the top of the world. But it’s mysterious, and there’s a hair of fear because it goes into remote areas. You feel the history of Hollywood in that road.” MMulholland Drive – a film and a road with an all-star cast. No course could be more fitting for the AMG crossover vehicle. We are suffused, fortified with thousands of images, and we are tired. Looking for a little respite, we spy the small Malibu Riviera Motel not far from the road. As we turn into it, the shade of palm leaves falls across the silhouette of the car – a wellearned cool-down. Motelier John pushes the keys into our hands: “Rooms 6 and 3.” His cat Shrimpy prowls around the visitors’ legs, and the 72-year-old is probably glad to see people again too. John boasts volubly about the secret that slumbers behind the door marked 10. Bob Dylan lived, rehearsed, composed there for weeks. “That was top secret. It was right after the divorce from his wife. He spent more than two months here. What a cool and laid-back guy.” John also has a humorous celebrity anecdote handy for number 4: Hollywood actor William Hurt. “To me he seemed to be looking for a break. One evening he came to the front desk and we drank a beer together. I thought, dammit, where do you know this guy from? At some point he asked, ‘Do you know who I am? It sucks to be famous.’ Only later did I learn that it was William Hurt, the legendary actor. I had even seen some of his films, but like that at the counter, he seemed totally normal to me. Like you two. Just normal. I treated him just like I would anyone else. A nice guy. Though he seemed to me to be really annoyed by showbusiness. That’s why he came over.” The next morning. Back in the AMG, back in the mountains of Santa Monica. We take the challenging, rapidly alternating curve formations quickly but calmly. Thanks to the active roll stabilization called ACTIVE CURVE SYSTEM, the AMG always keeps us gently but firmly on the racing line. Just don’t go astray. Brilliant. S Suddenly it’s in front of us: The Snake. We fly past a horde of motorcycles parked in the gravel bed of a rest stop. Then comes the oft-described, treacherous part of the bottleneck. But as fast as The Snake swallows us, the sooner we’re back out of it. Was that supposed to be it? We turn. Driving through the dynamic response diagram once again. And again. In all five driving modes: Slippery. Individual. Comfort. Sport, Sport Plus. Superb, but no trace of any snake. Not a whiff of transgression. The benchmark is the vehicle, not the curve. After pleasure comes respect. We turn, park, let the eight-cylinder take a short break. We walk up to it, up to The Snake. “Hey, Snake!” Then we climb over the fairly battered guardrail and trudge gingerly down the steep slope. Further below a small automobile junkyard spreads out before us. Rusty wrecks, which once shot over and beyond the highway, now sleep here for eternity. A mossy Viper, a half-buried Dodge: Welcome to Deadman’s Lookout. We look back, upwards. There it stands, glittering in the sun: the benchmark, our Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S Coupé – unscathed, confident, attractive. We accelerate, sprint upward. At long last, onward. 31


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