Is the new Mercedes-AMG GLE 53 a six-cylinder SUV for geeky petrolheads?
Mercedes has just pulled the virtual covers off the GLE 53 – a six-cylinder AMG-ed version of the seven-seat GLE SUV.
Its 3.0-litre straight-six petrol engine kicks out 435hp and 520Nm of torque – which is supplemented by a starter generator to give you an extra 250Nm of wallop, meaning you can get your family and dog from 0 to 60mph in 5.3 seconds. Your pooch will have to settle for an electronically limited top speed of – you guessed it – 155mph.
That starter generator – called 'EQ Boost' in Mercedes-AMG speak – is essentially an electric motor between the engine and nine-speed auto gearbox. And it isn't the only trick electric bit in the '53' drivetrain. You see, the engine's also boosted by an electric compressor in addition to its traditional turbo, which should give it a lightning-quick throttle response and help you race away from the lights without that embarrassing 'my engine isn't quite ready yet' lull in acceleration you often get from turbocharged motors.
Your dog probably won't thank Mercedes-AMG for that.
The Mercedes-AMG GLE 53 also gets a 48-volt system for, well, more electricity, which means that the car's wiring loom can be thinner and therefore lighter. Whether you'll notice the weight saving in a seven-seat SUV is perhaps doubtful.
More usefully, it powers the GLE 53's fancy suspension that uses electro-mechanic actuators (one on each axle) to help reduce the amount of roll you get when cornering like a yob. This sort of thing can be done using hydraulics, but Mercedes claims the electronic setup can adjust 1000 times a second. Try doing that with liquid in a tube. Actually, don't.
Air suspension comes as standard, meaning you can lollop along in comfort or stiffen things up when you want to scare the kids. The car automatically drops 15mm on its suspension when you go faster than 75mph to help reduce drag. The same system can jack the GLE's body up 55mm to help with ground clearance, and to help adjust the boot lip to the perfect height for lugging heavy things in and out.
Otherwise, it's pretty much business as usual – you get Mercedes' fab twin-screen MBUX infotainment system with voice control for most of the car's functions, and a customisable digital driver's display.
The sports SUV for track day fans? You better believe it
Tick a box on the options list for the GLE 53 and you can buy the 'AMG Track Pace' pack. This allows you to record and analyse laptimes and monitor various data including acceleration and deceleration. Handy. But who's really going to be taking their SUV on track?
That aside, the GLE 53 sounds like a fairly intriguing stab at a sporty SUV.
But what do you think?