What is it?
If you’re looking for a Merc alternative to the Porsche Cayenne Coupé or the Range Rover Sport – and are prepared to fight your way through the Daimler-owned firm’s confusing nomenclature – you’ll find your way to this, the Mercedes-AMG GLE 53, the second-generation high-performance SUV coupé that made its debut in Geneva a bit over a year ago but is rather newer in this country.
It’s a typical AMG product – very thoroughly developed, extremely rapid and richly equipped to the extent that the only thing the company’s people could think of to add to our test car – apart from pricey towing and off-road gadgetry – was £685 worth of brilliant metallic paint. Oh, and a set of handsome 22in wheels to replace the standard 20s. It’s big, over five metres long, and spacious enough for a seven-seat configuration. The third row is really for kids only, but that’s mainly because the armchair-like front bucket seats take so much space.
The engine is the latest iteration of the AMG-developed twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre petrol straight six, running a 48V integrated starter/generator that contributes 21bhp and 184lb ft of torque and helps with extremes of acceleration and smooths power interruptions – not that there are many, given that the GLE 53 has AMG’s latest Quickshift nine-speed auto and a 4Matic all-wheel drive system that is extremely quick and flexible about sending power wherever it’s needed.
The car is AMG-ised via a toothy 'Panamericana' grille, bonnet power bulges, different bumpers and a big rear diffuser. The GLE 53 is undoubtedly imposing and eye-catching but it’s now handsome in a Cayenne or Range Rover way. Many of its styling cues are repeated from other Mercedes models, and unless you’re up to date or can see the badge, you may have trouble knowing exactly where this model sits in the Mercedes firmament.
The interior is plush and well lined with brightwork, with special AMG graphics for the steering wheel and sophisticated, screen-based instrumentation. The seats are upright and not exactly sporty but they’re supportive and luxurious. Your overall impression is of a densely equipped and beautifully finished cabin.