You knew it was coming, and here it is: The medium-grade AMG version of Mercedes’ new GLE-class SUV. As with other “53” AMG models, power comes from a turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-six that also features an electrically driven auxiliary supercharger to mitigate turbo lag. Output is 429 horsepower and 384 lb-ft of torque, but if that’s not enough, the GLE53 also has a 48-volt starter/generator—what some call a mild-hybrid system—that can provide a brief boost of 21 horsepower and 184 lb-ft.
The straight-six is paired with a nine-speed automatic transmission and Mercedes’ 4MATIC+ all-wheel-drive system as standard, the latter able to vary front-to-rear torque distribution from 50:50 to 0:100. The GLE53 also features AMG’s Active Ride Control suspension, which supplements the Airmatic air springs with active roll stabilization that employs electric actuators on both the front and rear axles to better control body motions. The adjustable chassis gets Trail and Sand settings to go along with the typical Comfort, Sport, and Sport+ modes.
Outside, the AMG model is differentiated from lesser GLEs by unique grillework and quad exhaust tips that, unlike the exhaust finishers on other GLE models, are actually connected to the tailpipes. Inside, the interior features an AMG-specific Nappa-leather-wrapped steering wheel and red stitching.
As with other GLEs, this AMG version gets the latest version of the new MBUX user interface with speech recognition, Siri/Alexa-like “Hey Mercedes” functionality, and optional gesture control. The GLE53 comes with a long list of standard equipment, including navigation, semi-automatic parking, and a full roster of active safety features. Options include a third-row seat, Burmester surround sound, quad-zone climate control, a perfumer for the interior, and (our favorite) Augmented Video for Navigation, which overlays directional arrows on a camera view of the road ahead to help you find those tricky turns.
The hot(tish)-rod GLE will arrive in U.S. dealerships late in 2020 as a 2021 model, with pricing announced closer to launch. The GLE lineup will also include an even burlier GLE63.