Exclusive test: Mercedes-AMG GLE 53 4MATIC+ Coupe: endless thrust

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The GLE from Mercedes is the pinnacle of the SUV segment. Comfort is exceptional and the ride is fantastic. When AMG puts a 435 hp inline-six under the bonnet, it becomes a must-have if you frequently travel across Europe. There is a GLE63 Coupe with a 4.0 l V8 that delivers 570 or even 612 hp, but… is it really necessary?

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This SUV’s coupe-like lines are a real eye-catcher. You have to be quite flexible to climb in and our passengers didn’t think it’s quite pleasing. Once you’re settled in, you’ll discover the world of Mercedes : high-quality materials, top quality and the very latest technology. The large screens on the dashboard are imposing.  It always takes some time to get used to them displaying the data you want. However, you soon get used to it. Being just marginally bigger than a GLC Coupe, the rear seats are not very roomy and the boot capacity is just 10 litres more, offering 510 dm³.

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I like it

Pushing the starter button in an AMG is always a special moment. However, just like the rest of the range, the 3.0l is much less audible than in the past, due to European standards. And that’s a real shame! Unfortunately, excesses and gaudiness are no longer the order of the day. Let’s move on… Once on the road, the GLE 53 Coupe is quite discreet, especially in white, like our test car. When the road clears up and long straights come into view, you press the loud pedal and the line of road-clobbing cars is suddenly wiped out. It’s always nice to have power (435hp – 520Nm) under your feet. Once again, praise for the AMG engineers who are real masters when it comes down to put together milestone engines!

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Quite clever

If you are like us and want to enjoy thermal engines while you can, you’ll switch to “Sport” or “Sport Plus” mode and get access to a whole new dimension. Without offering more feedback, the steering is more direct, bodyroll is monitored more and throttle response is more direct. The exhaust system is freed a bit but never gets too loud. You jump from one corner to the next, the engine power and torque will make you forget this is a 2.3 ton machine. However, beware of braking as the laws of physics will then remind you it’s quite portly. Obviously, this highly dynamic SUV was designed for the German Autobahns’ perfect curves and their derestricted sections.

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I don’t like it

Some road users don’t like big SUVs and the imposing size of the GLE Coupe did lead to a few negative reactions. You have to be able to live with the fact that you own such a car, and the ferocious look of the front grille will only make matters worse. However, a few left-side lane users were obviously not impressed seeing the GLE 53 in their rear-view mirror.

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Why I buy it

The Mercedes-AMG GLE 53 Coupe is one of the best cars in the world : its comfort, fit and finish, and the latest on-board technology make it a very compelling offer. The perfect driving position makes it comfortable to swallow up the miles while skilfully juggling speed traps. You will obviously like to enjoy such a gem of an engine! The various driving modes allow you to choose the most suitable one for all your needs and what will best suit your mood. Like all AMGs, the GLE can displays most European tracks layouts and allows the driver to record track driving data through on-board telemetry equipment. Something for the real thrill- seeker in you…

Barely larger than a GLC Coupe, the 53 GLE Coupe is priced at €109,263 before any extras are added. This is quite hefty but still €35,000 less than the 63 and its 4.0 V8. Of course, some die-hard enthusiasts will always think the in-line 6 is not as prestigious as a V8 but it is still more than enough to propel this car.

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Why I don’t buy it

Weighting 2,300 kg, the GLE Coupe requires a certain amount of restraint when having fun on back roads. You should never forget its mass when applying the brake pedal. On top of the typically Belgian punitive taxes, you’ll also need to budget its appetite for petrol… even though that’s no real surprise. The GLE 53 is partially “eco-frendly”, being fitted with a 48v mild-hybrid system. However, it still is quite thirsty : average fuel consumption was 13.8 litres per 100 km during our 840 km test drive. With a lighter foot and a more restrained driving style, it should be possible to get to about 10 l/ 100 km but don’t expect anything much better… (Translation: Dimitri Urbain – Pictures: Pierre Fontignies)

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