We find out how well the second-gen GLE Coupe, which has arrived with AMG and 53 badges, blends performance and luxury.
What is the Mercedes-AMG GLE 53 Coupé?
The Mercedes-AMG GLE 53 Coupé is a direct rival to the Porsche Cayenne Coupé, Audi Q8 and BMW X6. The second generation of the coupe body style, and a replacement for the GLE 43 earlier sold in India, the new Mercedes-AMG GLE 53 looks sharper, more attractive and has massive road presence.
With its shovel-like nose, it is unmistakably a GLE. Larger than its predecessor, it however, has a shorter wheelbase than the current GLE, and B-pillar onwards, also has a more flowing roofline. Up front, it gets the ‘Panamericana’ grille, power bulges on the bonnet, different bumpers and a big rear diffuser and quad pipes.
The second-gen GLE Coupe has arrived in 53 form.
While this is not a full fat AMG with a V8 under the hood, it comes powered by the new 3.0-litre, in-line six-cylinder, known in AMG parlance as the 53. A twin-turbo direct-injected petrol, the 53 engine here makes 435hp, which is more than sufficient for the 2,250kg kerb weight. And there's more – to boost throttle response, it also gets a 48V electrical system that operates a small compressor. This helps low-end responses before the twin-scroll turbocharger comes on boost. Power is sent to all four wheels via a 9-speed gearbox and Mercedes’ new semi-active 4Matic+ all-wheel-drive system, which can vary drive to individual wheels.
Definitely looks like a sportier version of the standard GLE.
The GLE 53 also features some AMG-specific upgrades, which includes a sportier air suspension and adaptive dampers that get seven modes (Slippery, Comfort, Trail, Sand, Sport, Sport+ and Individual). ‘Sport’ and ‘Sport+’ are the ideal settings for enthusiastic driving, as the responses are sharper and quicker for the throttle and the gearbox’s kickdowns. Speaking of the gearbox, it can also be locked into manual, allowing you to hold to a lower gear and have better control, a feature not found on non-AMG GLEs.
Mercedes-AMG GLE 53 Coupé performance and handling
Push the start button and the 3.0-litre petrol motor comes to life with very little drama. The cabin is so well insulated and the start-stop so seamless that it is difficult to tell when the engine is idling and when it is off. Of course, this changes the second you tap on the throttle and 435 horses under the hood make their presence felt. In the right mode, it even has a proper AMG growl.
435hp, 3.0-litre, six-cylinder turbo-petrol engine gets up to 22hp of boost from the mild-hybrid setup.
Apart from being silky-smooth, the new straight-six twin-turbo motor is also quick to respond and pulls strongly in a brawny, muscular manner. Plant the throttle and the scenery reels in through the windscreen at a rapid pace and you are rewarded with good dose of adrenalin. What helps is that the GLE 53’s 48V mild-hybrid system (Mercedes calls it EQ Boost) adds up to 22hp and a not insubstantial 250Nm of torque under hard acceleration. Even nicer is that the motor is free-revving and loves visiting its 6,800rpm redline. The engine is also very flexible in nature and feels very comfortable cruising. Another highlight is the quick 9-speed gearbox and the steel paddle-shifters behind the steering wheel that make it more engaging while attacking corners.
While we weren’t able to put the GLE 53 through our acceleration test with the Vbox, Mercedes claims a 0-100kph sprint time of 5.3sec, which makes it quicker in a straight line than the Porsche Cayenne Coupé’s 6.0sec.
The GLE 53 Coupe is claimed to be quicker to 100kph than the Porsche Cayenne Coupe.
Despite its obvious bulk, the 53 even allows you to enjoy the corners. While you are perched up high, body roll is well-controlled by the active system, the steering feels better connected than in the GLE, and agility and directional changes are fairly quick. It clearly doesn't feel as agile or as connected as the Porsche Cayenne Coupé, but with the new four-wheel-drive system adjusting the supply of torque to individual wheels, it has huge grip, and can carry a fair amount of speed. Even the flat-bottomed, flat-sided F1 car-like steering feels great to use.
The GLE 53 also features AMG's active ride control. While it does a superb job at keeping the SUV flat in corners and regular bump absorption is good, put it in Sport and it does get inordinately upset by large bumps and craters. These cause some large, sharp and unsettling movements. So, the sportier modes are best left to perfectly paved roads; of which we very few.
You can enjoy going around corners, despite its over 2.2-tonne kerb weight.
Mercedes-AMG GLE 53 Coupé interior details
Inside the GLE 53 and you are greeted by a familiar Mercedes layout, but with a lot more pizzaz and character. Mercedes offers two upholstery options to personalise the cabin, and our test car came with the black and truffle brown upholstery. The cabin feels big and airy, and the front seats are large and comfortable, rather than overtly sporty. Rear accommodation is also very spacious, headroom is more than sufficient, and the rear can seat two in comfort. Even support on the back seats is good.
AMG-specific tweaks aside, the dash is shared with the standard GLE.
The dashboard is the same as the standard GLE, but here it looks a bit more special due to the trim and other sporty touches. As on the regular car, it gets dual 12.3-inch displays for the infotainment and instrument cluster, with both running Mercedes’s latest MBUX software.
The infotainment and instrument cluster use Mercedes' latest MBUX software.
There is plenty of kit bundled in too – head-up display, four-zone climate control, heated and ventilated front seats with memory function, remote adjustment of the front passenger seat by the driver, four-way lumbar support, wireless phone charger, a 13-speaker Burmester sound system, 64-colour ambient lighting, connected car tech with remote engine start, panoramic sunroof and a powered tailgate. Even the boot is fairly practical, though not nearly as good as the regular GLE’s.
There's a fairly spacious boot, but it is smaller than the GLE's.
Should you buy the Mercedes-AMG GLE 53 Coupé?
The GLE 53 is a typical AMG, it is thoroughly developed and performance-oriented, despite being a bona fide luxury car. At Rs 1.20 crore (ex-showroom, India), the GLE 53 is also more affordable than rivals like the similarly specified Porsche Cayenne Coupé and the Audi Q8, which cost Rs 1.31 crore and Rs 1.33 crore, respectively. This puts it up for serious consideration. The Porsche is clearly sportier and more engaging to drive, and the Audi offers greater personalisation, but the Merc, however, is an extremely accomplished all-rounder. The 53 comes loaded with tech, it is superbly built, luxuriously appointed, and it even delivers strong performance, all in one attractive package. Definitely one to keep on your shortlist.
The Mercedes-AMG GLE 53 Coupe is a great blend of luxury and performance.
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