BIG BENZ HITS THE ROAD RUNNING

Mercedes-Benz continues to play the numbers game with its GLE family SUV range, adding ’53’ to the list – and, ‘bingo’ it comes up a winner. The new AMG GLE 53 4Matic+ sports utility coupe’s performance belies its bulk.

It has more cabin space, but a shorter wheelbase makes for greater agility, more aerodynamic than the model it replaces. It uses the Mercedes’ MBUX widescreen digital display.

Squeezing in between the GLE 450 4Matic Coupe ($137,000, plus ORCs) and the GLE 63S AMG 4Matic+ Coupe ($222,700), the middleweight GLE 53 AMG 4Matic+ Coupe tips the price sticker scales at $171,800.

While the entry-level 450 is comprehensively equipped, the GLE 53 adds a range of AMG performance parts as well as AMG looks.

STYLING
Design and architecture lean towards coupe-like sleekness with a sporty character. The coupe’s sleek-ish silhouette gives rise to an aerodynamic advantage of nine per cent in wind resistance, despite having the same frontal surface as its predecessor.

It has AMG Line body styling and 21-inch AMG multi-spoke alloy wheels.

INTERIOR
At 39 mm longer and seven mm wider than its predecessor, including an added 20 mm to the wheelbase, the GLE 53 takes on a more spacious feel. Even the door opening is 35 mm more and there’s an additional 40 litres of load space.

Nappa leather covers seats, the front including memory settings, there’s a panoramic sliding glass sunroof and ambient lighting with 64 colours.

An AMG Night Package includes heat reducing dark-tinted glass, an AMG Performance steering wheel is clothed in Nappa leather, front seats are heated and ventilated and the door sills are lit up with AMG lettering.

INFOTAINMENT
The Burmester surround sound system is most impressive and all who heard it during our test period came away with smiles on their faces.

The AMG-inspired interior styling has the Mercedes MBUX digital interface with twin 12.3-inch high-resolution screens providing a selection of information displays.

Smart phone integration with wireless charging.

The MBUX includes the ‘Hey, Mercedes’ command that recognises and replies to a list of spoken requests. Its menu includes satellite navigation, audio, phone and vehicle functions that can be activated by voice control.

There’s can be controlled by swipe-and-tap controllers on the steering wheel, via dashboard touch screen, or by using the centre-console situated touch pad. Too many choices? Perhaps but it does give individuals plenty of freedom.

ENGINES / TRANSMISSIONS
The six-cylinder 320 kW / 520 Nm petrol engine features an orthodox gas-driven turbocharger supplemented by an EQ Boost starter-alternator. The latter system capable of adding an extra 16 kW and 250 Nm in short bursts, such as at take-off.

It also acts as a power generator, helping hybrid functions such as boost, recuperate, load point shift, gliding and restarting during stop / start engine operation.

EQ Boost is also responsible for idle speed control allowing fuel savings previously reserved for high-voltage hybrid technology.

SAFETY
A suite of safety features includes nine airbags, active steering assist, Distronic cruise control with active distance assist, brake assist with rear cross-traffic alarm, lane change assist, blind spot assist and traffic sign recognition.

DRIVING
As befits a vehicle of such prestige, the Mercedes-Benz GLE 53 AMG 4Matic+ Coupe cossets driver and passengers in spacious surroundings insulated from the noise of engine and road conditions. The Airmatic air suspension and adaptive damping systems make it even easier to drive and to live with.

The GLE 53 introduces new suspension technology, AMG Ride Control+, which incorporates active roll stabiliser bars, and in co-operation with Airmatic, offers continuously variable adjustable dampers. Working with a more direct steering ratio, this results in enhanced vehicle dynamics and comfort both on and off road.

The six-cylinder 320 kW / 520 Nm petrol engine, with its orthodox turbocharger supplemented by an EQ Boost starter-alternator, had the bulky (3050 kg) vehicle moving off the mark virtually instantly in response to the accelerator.

Mercedes-AMG’s measured combined urban / highway fuel consumption is 9.3 litres per 100 kilometres. Our test vehicle figures of 15-plus litres per 100 kilometres in city and suburban driving and 7.8 litres per 100 kilometres on a motorway run.

Filtering into moving traffic was well accomplished, while the curse of the coupe – a sharply raked rear window, making for poor driver visibility behind.

Little things like a Keyless Go package, multibeam headlamps with automatic high beam and power tailgate made life with the GLE 53 a pleasure.

During my time with the GLE 53 AMG 4Matic we encountered some particularly treacherous summer storms. Rarely have I felt so safe, secure and comfortable in a vehicle as I did with the big Merc.

SUMMARY
The fan base of the SUC is growing, we are told, and with ambient luxury, AMG performance and, last but not least, the three-pointed star parading up front, the GLE 53 AMG 4Matic Coupe proves the point.

AT A GLANCE
Mercedes-Benz GLE 450 4Matic Coupe $137,000
Mercedes-Benz GLE 53 AMG 4Matic+ Coupe $171,800
Mercedes-Benz GLE 63S AMG 4Matic+ Coupe $222,700
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local Mercedes-Benz dealer for drive-away prices.

SPECIFICATIONS (Mercedes-Benz GLE 53 AMG 3.0L Turbo 6-cylinder direct injection petrol, 48V EQ boosted, 9sp automatic, 4WD SUC)

ENGINE:
Capacity: 2.999 litres
Configuration: Six cylinders in line
Maximum Power: 320 kW @ 6100 rpm
Maximum Torque: 520 Nm @ 1800-5800 rpm
Fuel Type: Petrol 98 RON
Combined Fuel Cycle (ADR 81/02): 9.3 L/100km
CO2 Emissions: 213 g / km

DRIVELINE: Nine-speed Speedshift TCT, 4Matic 4WD

DIMENSIONS, WEIGHT AND CAPACITIES:
Length: 4939 mm
Wheelbase: 2995 mm
Width: 2015 mm
Height: 1782 mm
Turning Circle: 12.4 metres
Gross Vehicle Mass: 3050 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 80 litres

BRAKES:
Front: Ventilated disc
Rear: Solid disc

STANDARD WARRANTY:
Five years / unlimited kilometres

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