by Michael Butler
The second-generation Mercedes-Benz GLE 53 Coupe is somewhat of an oddity: it's an SUV, a coupe, and in AMG form, a sports car all at once. Some might say that that's a bit too much, and we tend to agree. That doesn't mean that this weird-looking brute is a bad car, not by a long shot. It offers massive dollops of power from its 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-six, which is helped along by a mild hybrid system. Trick suspension keeps it planted in the corners, and the interior is nothing short of five-star luxury. We didn't want to like this car, and there's no way of getting around its looks, but behind the facade lies a brilliant car that offers good thrills, excellent luxury and all the practicality you'll ever need. The 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLE 53 Coupe goes up against the other midsize SUV Coupe weirdos: the BMW X6 and Porsche Cayenne Coupe.
The GLE 53 Coupe is an all-new model and is based on the popular GLE SUV. This coupe SUV replaces the previous generation Mercedes-AMG GLE 43 and offers lightning performance from its inline-six turbocharged motor, and enough space to carry all of your shopping or holiday gear. It makes use of a combination of gas and hybrid technology. Highlights on the 2021 car include improved aerodynamics, the latest MBUX (Mercedes-Benz User Experience) infotainment system, and AMG Ride Control and air suspension for variable adjustable damping.
|AMG GLE 53 4MATIC Coupe||
3.0-liter Turbo Inline-6 Hybrid
When BMW first introduced the X6, people didn't really know what to make of it. A four-door SUV coupe? Well, the Stockholm syndrome has set in, and these monstrosities now freely roam our roads. The 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLE 53 Coupe is another one of these oddities that are neither here nor there. Mercedes-AMG has done their best to make it look aggressive, and it comes standard with 21-inch AMG twin five-spoke wheels, side-mirror logo projectors, LED headlights, and a panoramic sunroof. The GLE 53 differentiates it from the rest of the GLE crowd with its gaping Panamericana grille in the front, while the quad tailpipes in the rear add a touch of aggressiveness.
The 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLE 53 Coupe isn't a small car despite its best efforts to hide behind the coupe body shape. Overall length is 194.4 inches spread over a 117.9-inch wheelbase, overall height is 70.2 inches, and it's 84.9 inches wide. Mercedes hasn't yet announced official curb weights, but we expect it to be in the same ballpark as the GLE 43 it replaces, which tipped the scales at 4,960 lbs.
To get this SUV moving at the rate it does requires a massive dose of power, and in this case, that power is provided by a combination of a turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-six and a 48-volt mild-hybrid system. This setup produces a healthy 429 hp and 384 lb-ft of torque, most of which is available way down low in the rev range, while the EQ Boost system augments it with a further 21 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque from the electric motor. This combo lends itself to smooth acceleration and an overall refined driving experience. Power is sent to all four wheels via an AMG Speedshift nine-speed automatic. The hybrid system assists in the start/stop system, helps to spool up the turbocharger, and also powers interior features such as the displays and lights. According to AMG, the GLE 53 will sprint to sixty in only 5.2 seconds, shaving four-tenths off the sprint time of the GLE 43 it replaces.
So we know that the GLE 53 Coupe is fast in a straight line thanks to a serious engine setup, but how does this SUV-looking thing handle the corners? The AMG engineers have done their best to make it stick in the corners, and they have done so rather convincingly. The secret to their success is thanks to AMG's optional Active Ride Control, which adds two independently operating, electro-mechanical actuators to the front and rear axles. What this does is drastically limit body roll in corners. Drivers get the option of selecting between three damper settings, namely Comfort, ''Sport," and "Sport+. There are also a number of driving modes, which include "Slippery," "Comfort," and "Sport".
You never completely escape the fact that the GLE 53 is heavy and high-riding, but on the whole, it behaves impeccably, soaking up bumps and avoiding body lean. It isn't a genuine sports car, but for those who like to go fast in comfort, it works perfectly.
Such a heavy car is always going to suffer to some extent when it comes to gas mileage, and don't let the word "hybrid" fool you into thinking that the Mercedes-AMG GLE 53 Coupe is an eco-friendly tree-hugger, because it's quite the opposite. Plant your foot to the floor and it will happily guzzle fuel with no consideration for economy. The EPA figures tell the whole story - the GLE 53 Coupe will get 18/23/20 mpg on the city/highway/combined circuit. The fact that this car can keep its combined figure at 20 mpg is impressive, but out in the real world, with all that power under your right foot, those numbers will inevitably dip into the teens. With a 22.5-gallon fuel tank, the GLE 53 will manage a maximum range of 450 miles on premium gas.
The interior of the GLE 53 Coupe, like other AMG products, is a stylish and comfortable place to be in. AMG has done well to combine luxury and sportiness here, and the space feels built for purpose. The driving position is high up, which means there's good forward visibility, and the leather seats offer body-hugging support. The coupe body style doesn't offer as much space as the standard GLE, but there's still more than enough space for five average-sized adults, and amenities like heated and ventilated power front seats do a fine job of keeping occupants comfortable.
If, for some reason, you're looking for the thrills of a sports car with the practicality of an SUV and the looks of a clown's shoe, then you're in luck! Not only does the GLE 53 Coupe offer enough space for five adults, but you also get a sizable trunk area that will swallow anything you throw at it. The rear tailgate opens up wide, and you get a flat loading area, which makes it much easier to load big objects. The trunk area, which measures in at 23.1 cubic feet is comparable in size to its competitor, the BMW X6 which offers a slightly larger 27.4 cubic feet of space. If you want more, the standard GLE SUV offers 33.3 cubic feet of space.
Interior storage is decent: you get a large center console storage bin and a large glovebox. Both front and rear passengers get bottle holders in the doors and cupholders in the center console.
The GLE 53 Coupe isn't shy when it comes to features. This SUV comes packed with the latest and greatest in tech from front to back. The exterior features illuminated running boards, LED headlights, a power liftgate, and even side-mirror logo projectors, so you know you've arrived. The interior is where things really start to happen: the heated leather seats are power-adjustable and include four-way lumbar control and optional ventilation, there's dual-zone automatic climate control, a panorama roof, as well as hands-free access. The list continues with a power-adjustable steering column, garage door opener, and remote start via the Mercedes mobile app. Driver assistance features include active brake assist, adaptive high beam assist, blind-spot assist, and much more. Additional options include heated armrests and steering wheel, soft close doors, four-zone climate control, as well as heated second-row seats and Nappa-leather upholstery.
We love the MBUX interface employed in the GLE 53 Coupe. This infotainment system is easy to use and offers seamless integration with smartphone devices. The system in the GLE 53 Coupe features dual 12.3-inch displays, which are the centerpieces of the interior. The system is controlled by natural voice recognition, a touchpad controller, steering wheel controls, and touch. So what do you get with this system? Firstly there's integrated navigation with optional augmented video navigation and five USB-C ports. Hands-free Bluetooth and HD Radio are also included, as is Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and SiriusXM satellite radio, while in-car Wi-Fi is left as an option. Music is played through a 13-speaker Burmester sound system, which includes twin FrontBass subwoofers and a 590-watt nine-channel digital amplifier. The optional Burmester surround sound system packs a massive 25 speakers and includes a subwoofer and 1,400-watt amplifier This infotainment system is a pleasure to use and sets a benchmark for other brands to follow.
It's barely been on the market a few months but the GLE 53 Coupe has already been recalled once for a software issue that will deactivate the illumination of certain interior switches. Other than that, this car is clear of any bugs, but considering it's an all-new model, there may be some future teething issues. Mercedes-AMG will cover the GLE 53 Coupe with a four-year/50,000-mile warranty, as well as a drivetrain, corrosion, and roadside assistance plan for the same period or distance, if you're concerned about reliability.
At this level, you best believe that this car is going to be safe as houses. Neither the NHTSA nor the IIHS has done a comprehensive review of the GLE 53, but the 2020 GLE SUV has been tested by both authorities and, since it rides on the same platform, we can say that the GLE 53 should offer more or less the same levels of safety as the standard car, which scored a Top Safety Pick Plus award from the IIHS. The car comes stacked with a large number of active driver assistance features, such as active brake assist, attention assist, adaptive high beam assist, trailer stability assist, crosswind assist, blind-spot assist, and active parking assist. There are seven airbags in total, including front and side-impact airbags, and a driver's knee airbag.
The 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLE 53 Coupe is another strange creation in the massive lineup of Mercedes-AMG cars that seems to be continuously growing by the day. It fills a niche in the market that, for years, we didn't know we needed, and some of us still don't understand. From the outside, it's not the most appealing to look at, in our opinion, and despite Mercedes-AMG's best attempts, it doesn't look very sporty, either. That doesn't matter when you get behind the wheel though. It drives beautifully and goes like a rocketship when you plant your foot on the accelerator. The interior is simply stunning and offers all the modern comforts you'll ever need. The Coupe body style might take away some of the interior space, but there's still an acceptable level cargo space on offer. It's a weird one, but it works.
Anything with an AMG badge stuck to the back is going to ask a premium, and the GLE 53 Coupe is no different. This SUV Coupe oddity will ask 76,500 of your hard-earned dollars, and that excludes tax, registration, and delivery. Stack on the options and this car will inch closer to the $100k mark. A fully-loaded version on the Mercedes-AMG website totaled upwards of $112,000. The BMW X6 M50i will cost you from $85,650.
Seeing as there's only one model on offer, we would look to the options list to further customize this car. On the exterior side, we would go with the 22-inch cross-spoke wheels and Mojave Silver paint job. On the inside, we would get the AMG carbon fiber package, and Black Nappa leather seats. We'd also go for the AMG performance steering wheel. In terms of comfort features, there's no doubting the fact that we would get the Burmester high-end 3D surround sound system. The driver assistance package, which adds a ton of driver aids, would make our list too, as would the AMG Dynamic Plus package. Our build totals $97,770.
Porsche is another high-end German brand that has bent to the pressure, and now offers a coupe of its own. The Porsche Cayenne Coupe is a Cayenne with a sloping coupe-style roof, but still provides most of the pros of the original SUV. Powering this beast is a turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 engine producing 335 hp and 332 lb-ft of torque. Power is sent to all four wheels via an eight-speed auto transmission. A 2.9-liter version is also offered with 434 hp, which is more in line with the GLE 53. The Porsche's engines are massively powerful, and we can argue that it looks better from the outside. On the road, the Porsche is the more entertaining car to drive. The interior is on par with the Merc in terms of luxury and build quality. We're disappointed that the Porsche doesn't offer as many standard features, but as an overall package, we'd still go with the Porsche here in Cayenne S guise at $85,100.
The BMW X6 is the car that started this whole mess, and it still looks ugly as sin, years after it was first introduced and despite several remodels since. The X6 that stands up to the GLE 53 is the M50i. Powered by a 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8 engine, this beast pumps out a massive 523 hp and 553 lb-ft of torque, and sends its power through an eight-speed transmission. The BMW offers 94 more horses, and will accelerate to sixty in only 4.1 seconds and continue on to a top speed of 155 mph. The redesigned exterior looks better than before, and we think it looks better than the Merc, which is saying something. On the road, the X6 is a sharper tool, but the steering feels numb, the suspension is a tad firmer, and it corners with minimal body roll. The interior is stylish, but typically reserved, and comes with a decent amount of features when compared to the GLE 53. As with the Merc, the back seats are tight, however, and the trunk area is a few cubic feet larger. In this case, the Mercedes-AMG GLE 53 Coupe feels more special, though.