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2021 Mercedes-AMG GLE53 Coupe Puts a Premium on Design

Photo credit: Michael Simari - Car and Driver
Photo credit: Michael Simari – Car and Driver

From Car and Driver

Smack in the middle of Mercedes’s engine lineup for the updated 2021 GLE-class is the brand’s turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-six. Set against the standard 255-hp turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four and AMG’s twin-turbo 4.0-liter V-8 with more than 600 ponies, the six’s smoothness and easy power make it a standout in the GLE53 coupe model.

The turbocharged six features a 48-volt motor-generator that delivers the 3.0-liter a silky smooth auto stop-start system and also fills in the gaps between nine-speed automatic transmission’s gear changes. The 48-volt system also powers an electric supercharger that helps feed boost before the turbocharger wakes up. The hybrid/supercharger combo yields a low-rpm surge that helps get the 5322-pound GLE off the line with satisfying authority.

Photo credit: Michael Simari - Car and Driver
Photo credit: Michael Simari – Car and Driver

Total engine power comes in at 429 horsepower and 384 pound-feet of torque, numbers that fit in neatly between the GLE350’s 255 horsepower and the monstrous GLE63 S Coupe’s 603 ponies. The run to 60 mph takes 4.7 seconds, and the quarter-mile mark falls in 13.4 seconds at 103 mph. For something with abundant power and sporting intentions, top speed is limited to a not-so-AMG 112 mph.

A GLE53 opens at $77,495, but a list of options the size of a CVS receipt brought the total to $104,460. If that makes you think you’d rather forgo a host of options and instead spend an extra $10,000 to get a base $114,945 V-8-powered GLE63 S with a 3.4-second time to 60 mph, well, you’re not alone.

Photo credit: Michael Simari - Car and Driver
Photo credit: Michael Simari – Car and Driver

Fit and finish is certainly up to a six-figure standard. The digital cluster can be configured in a number of ways, from classic to ’80s video game. Compared to the GLE without a sloping roofline, there’s a five cubic-feet loss of cargo space behind the second row and 12 fewer cubic feet with the rear seats folded. From the driver’s seat, the view is identical to the regular GLE. There’s an expansive one-panel, two-screen infotainment setup running across the dashboard. Interacting with it can be done in a number of ways: You have the screen itself, which is touch sensitive, a touchpad ahead of the center armrest, and steering-wheel controls You can also wave your hand to control volume and skip songs, or you can summon the voice-control assistant by saying “Hey, Mercedes,” and then asking a question or stating a command.

Despite massive, staggered 22-inch wheels wrapped with steamroller Yokohama Advan Sport 107V summer rubber, when left in Comfort mode the GLE53 soaks up Midwestern roads in stride. Switching to Sport firms things up but not to the point of abuse. It’s best to save the very firm Sport Plus mode for newly paved roads. Pressed hard into corners, the GLE never feels unstable or tippy. Body roll is kept in tight check in Sport and Sport Plus, but at 0.88 g the lateral grip isn’t up to snuff with its competition despite the Yokohama summer tires. There’s not a ton of feedback through the steering, but if that’s what you crave, we might point you over to the Porsche store.

Photo credit: Michael Simari - Car and Driver
Photo credit: Michael Simari – Car and Driver

In addition to Porsche’s Cayenne coupe, the GLE53 will face the BMW X6 M50i and Audi Q8 in the let’s-call-it-a-coupe-even-though-it’s-clearly-a-four-door-SUV segment. In addition to the futuristic and plush interior, the GLE53’s inline-six distinguishes it from the competition. While it lacks the punch and power of the X6 M50i’s stunning V-8, the Benz’s engine has silken refinement and an electrically assisted power delivery that the V-6s from Porsche and Audi can’t match. Take it easy on the options, and the GLE53 carves out a space for itself below the mighty GLE63 S, or save yourself $4150 and buy the GLE53 with the regular roofline.

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