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Mercedes-AMG GLE 53 4MATIC+

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Agile Temptress |

“If it doesn’t have a V8, it’s not an AMG” is a sentiment that belongs to another era, when four- and six-cylinder AMG engines were still relatively new to the market. Given the moving target of stringent emissions regulations imposed by various regulatory bodies across the globe, downsizing is a reality for all makes and models, including all future AMGs. With our recent test drive of the refreshed GLE 53 AMG, sporting a 3.0-litre turbo inline-six, the previous sentiment proved to be as moot as it is outdated, especially given the formidable horsepower delivered by this agile temptress.

The GLE53 is a rung below the fire breathing GLE 63, providing a slightly tamer and more affordable AMG experience. Make no mistake, however, it is by no means a budget alternative. In fact, the two models appear identical. The GLE 53 is afforded the typical AMG treatment, including the AMG Panamericana grille with vertical slats, AMG’s front apron, and a superbly sculpted bonnet. AMG badges accented on the body, additional alloy wheel options, and a quad exhaust pipe setup at the rear flanked by a sporty diffuser complete this beauty. The only significant distinction between these two models is that the GLE 53 gets rounded tailpipes instead of the trapezoidal tips on the ’63. While the standard GLE exudes arresting good looks, the GLE 53 improves on that with a more aggressive demeanour and athletic stance, heralding the impressive performance that lurks within.

An Enchanting Interior

The standard GLS cabin is breath-taking to begin with, sporting dual displays on the dash, flaunting all-around premium materials and an overall stylish design language. The GLE 53, however, takes it up a notch with the inclusion of an AMG multifunction sports steering wheel, multi-way sports Artico Leather seats with red contrast stitching and tastefully placed AMG badges. Ambient lighting comes standard, while AMG side sills and aluminium pedals add to the theatre. The panoramic sunroof bathes the cabin with more light, creating an aerated atmosphere.

Practicality is not compromised by any means. Even with the option of a seven-seater, best reserved for children, the GLE 53 retains its athletic character in the guise of a practical family cruiser. 

A Seductive Powerhouse

The GLE 53’s art of seduction lies beneath the bonnet. Unlike AMG’s traditional burly V8, the GLE 53 houses a 3.0-litre turbo inline-six-cylinder engine. The straight-six employs state-of-the-art technology to breach the gap to make up for what it lacks in displacement. The car comes with an EQ Boost starter generator that adds16 kW and 250 Nm to the mix. As a result, the car churns a generous 336 kW of power and 520 Nm of torque sent to the 4MATIC+ system via a nine-speed multi-clutch automatic transmission.

Powering a zero to 100 km/h sprint in 5.3 seconds and onwards to a governed top speed of 250km/hr, this force-fed inline-six is sure to satisfy those with a need for speed. Put into context, a zero to 100 km/h sprint in a large SUV in less than six seconds remains a monumental feat, and anything quicker than five seconds borders on the limits of safety.

Put Your Foot Down

We took the GLE 53 on a seven-hour, 650 km drive to Sani Valley Lodge and Moorcroft Manor Boutique Country Hotel in Himeville in the Southern Drakensberg to test the car’s comfort, highway manners and overall performance.

The highlight of this beauty (ironically) is undoubtedly the engine. Smooth and oozing power, the synergy between the engine and transmission ensures a comfortable city drive. With superior throttle response, manoeuvring around city traffic proves effortless. While the car embodies notable dimensions, external visibility coupled with advanced sensors assists in accurately gauging the car’s proximity to others at all times.

Out on the highway, though, is where the car’s AMG DNA shines through. The rate at which the vehicle gathers speed is, quite frankly, astounding. The throttle responds with urgency, given the instant kick achieved from the EQ Boost tech. Highway speeds are hastily reached, and even then, the engine still has a whole lot more to offer. It takes phenomenal willpower to keep within national speed limits.

Being geared for high-performance driving, the car comes with a reworked suspension allowing for sound handling dynamics. As a result, the suspension rides slightly firmer than a standard GLE would. Therefore, for road use, the car is best kept in its Comfort suspension settings. Should one encounter a twisty mountain road, the ease in shifting suspension to Sport mode to anchor the vehicle is easily accessible and gives the car unnerving agility around the bends. While the exhaust note sounds like it is being augmented through the speakers from the inside, it is externally vocal. Heightened enjoyment is achieved when shifting into manual mode, using the aluminium steering mounted pedals to play the exhaust like an instrument, while the overrun on the downshift is punctuated by snaps and crackles, adding to a theatrical experience for all to enjoy.

Being a premium Mercedes SUV, cabin insulation is superb, and the exhaust can be muted through the dedicated exhaust button for added serenity in the cabin. And, as impressive as the performance is, its fuel efficiency is an additional perk.

Last Word

Undeniably seductive, unwaveringly impressive, the GLE 63is a true temptress that ranks high on our “must” list. Factoring in its commendable fuel economy and a price that starts at R1,851,280, this agile temptress is a must for anyone in search of superior AMG treatment for less. This AMG comes highly recommended.

Report & Images © by BRYAN KAYAVHU 

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