Mercedes-Benz GLE 53 Coupé: Nine-speed gearbox, plenty of kit, and strong performance

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While the 53 is not a full-fat V8 AMG, the twin-turbo, direct-injected, in-line six petrol makes a more-than-sufficient 435hp

The new Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupé has been launched in India, in high-performance AMG 53 guise. The second-gen model has grown in size and price, but also packs more in tech, and a new mild-hybrid 3.0-litre, in-line six, twin-turbo petrol engine. So, can it recreate the success its predecessor?

The GLE 53 Coupé looks sharper and more attractive than the outgoing 43 and has massive road presence. The shovel-like nose makes it instantly recognisable as a GLE, and while styling is similar to the standard SUV, the roof-line dips from the B-pillar onwards ending in an integrated spoiler on the tailgate to give that coupé profile. The 53 also gets aggressive design elements such as the AMG ‘Panamericana’ grille, power bulges on the bonnet, and quad exhaust pipes. Inside, the GLE 53’s cabin is in line with the standard GLE, but with a lot more pizazz and character. The dashboard looks a tad special due to the carbon-fibre trim and other sporty touches.

The cabin feels big and airy, and the front seats are large and comfortable. Rear accommodation is also very spacious, headroom is more than sufficient, the seats are supportive and two occupants can sit in comfort.

There is plenty of kit bundled in too — head-up display, four-zone climate control, a 13-speaker Burmester sound system, 64-colour ambient lighting, connected car tech and more.

Specifications

  • Length 4961mm
  • Width 2014mm
  • Height 1716mm
  • Wheelbase 2935mm
  • Engine 2999cc, 6-cyl, twin-turbo petrol, mild hybrid
  • Max Power 435hp at 5500-6100rpm + 22hp e-boost
  • Max Torque 520Nm at 1800-5800rpm + 250Nm e-boost
  • Gearbox 9-speed automatic
  • Tank size 85 litres

For a performance SUV, it is what is under the hood that matters. While the 53 is not a full-fat V8 AMG, the twin-turbo, direct-injected, in-line six petrol makes 435hp, which is more than sufficient for this 2,250kg SUV. And there is more — to boost throttle response, it also gets a 48V electrical system that operates a small compressor which helps improve low-end responses before the turbo kicks in.

There are also some AMG specific upgrades including a sportier air suspension with adaptive dampers, and seven drive modes. ‘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.

Push the start button and the engine comes to life with very little drama. The start-stop is 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 the 435 horses under the hood make their presence felt.

Apart from being silky-smooth, the new straight-six is also quick to respond and pulls strongly in a brawny, muscular manner. This is partly due to the 48V mild-hybrid system that adds up to 22hp and a significant 250Nm of torque under hard acceleration. Even nicer is that the engine is free-revving and loves visiting its 6,800rpm redline. The unit is also very flexible and feels very comfortable cruising. Another highlight is the quick nine-speed gearbox and the steel paddle-shifters behind the steering wheel that make it more engaging while attacking corners.

Despite its obvious bulk, the 53 allows you to enjoy corners. The steering feels better connected than in the GLE, and agility and directional changes are fairly quick. With the new four-wheel-drive system it has huge grip and can carry a fair amount of speed.

At ₹1.20 crore (ex-showroom, India), the GLE 53 is also more affordable than its rivals. The 53 comes loaded with tech, it is superbly built, luxuriously appointed, and delivers a strong performance, all in one attractive package.

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