5 0 5
Plus & Minus
Performance; handling; effective driver-assist tech
Vision; bulk; impracticality; weight; premium price
WHAT IS THE MERCEDES-AMG GLE 53 COUPE?
Mercedes-Benz’s new GLE SUV spawns an inevitable coupe, this time on a shortened wheelbase. The Mercedes-AMG GLE 53 Coupe, with EQ Boost-branded electrified in-line twin-turbo 3.0-litre six, is expected to be the most popular variant in Australia.
WHY WE’RE TESTING IT
It won’t reach Australia until the third quarter of 2020, so the international launch in Austria afforded a well-in-advance chance to assess its charms.
The Wheels Verdict:The 1979 hit by a forgotten Brit pseudo-punk band would provoke a flak-storm of outrage today, but ‘Nice Legs, Shame About Her Face’ does concisely describe the new Mercedes-AMG GLE 53 4matic+ Coupe.
With its boosted and electrified engine, adept transmission, effective all-wheel-drive system and an extensive array of chassis-enhancement tech, it’s arguable this SUV coupe doesn’t need to be a visual stunner. It will reach Australia in the third quarter of 2020, wearing a price-tag around $150,000.
The motor-generator unit sandwiched between the 3.0-litre in-line six and nine-speed auto transmission is at the centre of the GLE 53 Coupe’s prowess. This combination was introduced first in the CLS in 2018, then the E-Class Coupe and Cabriolet.
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Working as a motor, the electric machine adds a 16kW/250Nm kick to the bottom end of the engine’s power and torque curves, as well as functioning as its starter motor. Operating as a generator, it charges the vehicle’s 48-volt battery pack. The battery not only helps make the GLE 53 Coupe a low-voltage hybrid, it also powers the engine’s current-hungry electric compressor, the chassis’ active anti-roll bars, and more.
Throttle response is practically lagless, with the electric turbo delivering instant low-rev boost while exhaust gases spin the conventional second turbo up to speed. The GLE 53 Coupe weighs well over two tonnes but its drivetrain has the muscle to make it speedy. A bonus is the engine’s sound. The straight-six is a more melodious motor than the twin-turbo 3.0-litre V6 of the GLE 43 Coupe.
The nine-speed transmission does fine work, too. Shifting is affected by which of the seven driving modes (Slippery, Comfort, Sport, Sport+ and Individual, plus off-road Trail and Sand) is deployed, but it’s good at selecting the right ratio for the circumstances and adapting to driving style.
Traction is never a problem. The international launch of the new GLE Coupe was in the mountains of Austria. Abundant early snow and sub-zero overnight temps meant sometimes driving on roads that were mostly ice, and the Mercedes-AMG was able to find more grip than seemed possible.
On twisting alpine roads, the GLE 53 Coupe was improbably quick. Its standard air springs and adaptive dampers, with the active anti-roll bars mentioned earlier, quell the inclination of something so high and heavy to pitch and roll. With the 60mm wheelbase reduction and more direct steering than the GLE SUV, it’s actually agile.
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But it’s not exactly beautiful; too hefty ever to be elegant. The tail-lights were designed to emphasis the breadth of the GLE Coupe’s big behind, according to a Mercedes-Benz designer.
The swoopy exterior obstructs rearward vision. The curve of the bonnet makes it hard to place the kerb-side front wheel. And the deep instrument panel, shared with the new GLE, will be a problem for short drivers. Despite the shorter wheelbase, rear-seat legroom is good, though headroom is only adequate. Interior dimensions are mostly very close to the outgoing model.
So even though the visual compromises inherent in the SUV coupe concept remain obvious in the new GLE 53 Coupe, the way it drives is pretty impressive.
BMW X6 xDrive 40i, Audi Q8 55 TFSI, Maserati Levante S, Porsche Macan Turbo, Mercedes-Benz EQC
Model: Mercedes-AMG GLE 53 4matic+ Coupe
Engine: 2999cc 6cyl, dohc, 24v, twin-turbo, low-voltage hybrid
Max power: 320kW @ 6100rpm
Max torque: 520Nm @ 1800-5800rpm
Transmission: 9-speed automatic
Weight: 2225kg (estimated)
Economy: 9.3L/100km (NEDC)
Price: $150,000 (estimated)
On sale: Q3 2020