Mercedes-AMG has announced details of the new GLE 53, which will take the place of the current GLE 43 in local showrooms in the fourth quarter of this year. It’ll pack more power, more technology, and a box-fresh high-performance inline-six hybrid engine into the five-seat, five-door SUV.
The new engine - borrowed from the Mercedes-AMG E53 - might have the same cylinder count and 3.0-litre displacement as the GLE 43’s twin-turbo V6, but its inline-six configuration also brings a myriad of other improvements.
With raw outputs of 320kW and 520Nm from the engine alone, the GLE 53’s powertrain also packs an additional 16kW/250Nm punch courtesy of a combined generator/motor that’s sandwiched between the engine and the transmission.
That motor also brings efficiency enhancements by unlocking a mild hybrid capability and eliminates harsh engine starts from the auto stop-start feature by replacing the starter motor entirely.
The straight six features even more electro-enhanced tech by virtue of its electrically-assisted turbo, which works to eliminate low-rpm throttle lag. The end result of this is a 0-100km/h sprint in 5.3 seconds, and an electronically-limited top speed of 250km/h.
Power goes to all four wheels via a rear-biased AWD driveline and a nine-speed automatic transmission, with five drive modes available – Comfort, Sport and Sport+, plus the offroad-oriented Trail and Sand.
AMG Active Ride Control is the default suspension for the GLE 53, which is fancy-speak for hardware that rejects conventional springs and dampers in favour of air suspension and adaptive shock absorbers.
The behaviour of the springs and dampers varies depending on whether the drive mode selector is set to Comfort, Sport or Sport+, with the GLE 53’s air suspension sinking 15mm lower in Sport and Sport+ modes, and automatically lowering by the same amount in Comfort mode when travelling faster than 120km/h.
The suspension is also self-levelling, and is able to jack itself up by 55mm to clear taller obstacles. Meanwhile, active roll stabilisation is also standard on the GLE 53, using electro-mechanical actuators on the front and rear suspension to quell body roll in corners.
Further handling enhancement comes by way of variable ratio steering, which couples an AMG-specific steering calibration with variable power assistance to provide a more engaging feel through the wheel.
Externally, the biggest clue that you’re looking at the GLE 53 is its massive grille, with AMG’s signature 15 vertical strips denoting that it is, in AMG chief Tobias Moers’ own words, a “fully-fledged member of the AMG family”.
Inside, Benz’s MBUX infotainment system forms a new centrepiece of the cabin, along with a flat-bottomed, leather-clad sports steering wheel. That infotainment also boasts the same ‘AMG Track Pace’ feature that’s offered in sportier AMGs like the C63 S and E63, and offers live coaching when driver’s elect to take their GLE 53 onto a race circuit.
Expect the GLE 53 to arrive in Australian showrooms in the final quarter of 2019, and while precise pricing and specifications are still yet to be announced we expect it to land somewhere in the vicinity of the current GLE 43’s $134,700 retail sticker.
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