Big Benz has Kardashian flare with manners of the Royal family
Imagine Kath’s famous “look at moi” line spoken by the Queen.
That encapsulates this new hulking crossbred SUV and coupe.
Headlined by the prized three-pointed star mounted on the vertical fin grille, the GLE Coupe boasts massive wheels that fill the muscular arches in each corner and the steeply raked roofline makes an emphatic fashion statement.
Drive-away pricing starting from $150,000 for the GLE 450 also ensures few others will be wearing the same automotive outfit. For those who like activewear, next up the GLE Coupe line is a ‘53’ performance version honed by the expert tuners from AMG that can be in the traffic for just over $185,000.
Beauty remains in the eye of the beholder, and those who love the design find the styling priceless. Others are at the other end of the spectrum … some find melding the sleek rear end and high-riding stature an assault on the senses.
Pricing dictates an impressive equipment list, and among the highlights are dual 12.3-inch digital screens (one for the driver’s instruments and the other for infotainment), nappa leather upholstery, pumping Burmester surround sound system, wireless phone charging and a panoramic sunroof.
Extra engine firepower and AMG kit comes with the GLE 53, apart from the twin turbo straight-six engine it also gains special 21-inch wheels, performance steering wheel, front seats that have a heating and cooling function, along with adaptive air suspension, adjustable exhaust system for some aural excitement and a rear spoiler lip.
Only red and bright white attract a price premium, while grey, blue, silver black and polar white are complimentary options.
Mercedes has led the luxury warranty way with five years and unlimited kilometres of coverage — the like of BMW and Audi remain at three while Lexus offers four.
Servicing is required annually or every 25,000km. Maintenance plans are available and $5200 will cover five years of services.
The five-star rating comes courtesy of the wagon variant tested in 2019, which achieved impressive crash test results for children and adults alike.
Everything you’d expect is on the equipment repertoire, inclusive of automatic brakes which can be applied if the driver fails to act quick enough, autonomous steering that gently keep the big coupe between lines on the highway, along with a parking system which offers a 360-degree surround camera view.
While fashion-focused, the Coupe version of the GLE doesn’t discard commonsense.
There may be less boot space, yet four adults can still appreciate the Benz’s attributes without compromise.
The layout and design is another triumph from Mercedes. Everything rightfully looks and feels expensive — there are more than 60 colour options within a cabin dripping with luxury.
Once accustomed to the dual-screen set-up, the systems are straightforward and simple to use. While the central display can be controlled via a console-mounted touchpad or directly on the touchscreen, the driver can make changes and scroll through options via a steering wheel thumbpad.
The driver’s instruments are also configurable, able to be changed to a variety of speedo and tacho displays.
Say “Hey Mercedes” and the MBUX system comes to life. Able to control the aircon, infotainment and provide navigation advice without touching a button, it has greater functionality than simply using Apple CarPlay or Android Auto — think of it like an up-market version of Siri or Google.
Bottle holders are found in each door, and there are dual cup-holders in the console and also within the fold-down rear armrest.
The boot area is long and wide, and loading can be made easier by lowering the GLE via a toggle switch found in the back. There is no electric option to fold the rear seats, which fold 60-40 by pressing a button on the seat tops.
Fast and nimble, the GLE Coupe is not all show. The go comes from a 3.0-litre twin turbo six-cylinder that has the Coupe reaching three figures from standstill in just over five seconds.
Yet it boasts a wide torque spread which delivers hulking power that wilfully responds to right ankle surges. Helping deliver that linear power to all four wheels is EQ Boost, a mild electric hybrid system which temporarily delivers extra grunt when summonsed.
Drive modes of comfort, sport and sport+ are available via a steering wheel dial, or the driver can mix and match settings — like dialling up the exhaust for extra sound while leaving the softer suspension for around-town comfort.
Massive 21-inch Michelin rubber offers outstanding grip, ensuring the big coupe maintains its sporting prowess and somehow defies its size and weight.
Neither rapid acceleration or quick changes in direction fail to upset its balance and poise, although poor road conditions unsettle the ride.
Those wanting something quicker can get the eight-cylinder 63S which can achieve the 0-100kmh sprint in less than four seconds … but requires an investment closer to $240,000.
Covering more than 1000km the 53 returned fuel consumption of above 11 litres for every 100km, proving slightly thirstier than the official 9.3L/100km from Mercedes.
Impressive technology, good looks and performance to boot, it’s hard not to think with the heart.
Cars are more than transportation, they’re an extension of my personal brand. This is the epitome of style and substance.
BMW X6 M50I $175,290 D/A
The original for this genre, it combines style and performance with copious amounts of luxury. Under the bonnet is a 4.4-litre twin turbo V8 good for 390kW/750Nm that is slightly quicker than this version of the GLE.
Audi SQ8 $183,600 D/A
This is the segment newcomer, combining effortless strength of a turbo diesel with luxury and refinement. It’s motivated by a 320kW/900Nm 4.0-litre twin-turbo diesel V8, good for a 0-100km/h sprint in 4.8 seconds.
Svelte and showy, the GLE 53 is a true attention-grabber. For those chasing fashion, function and fun, there are few better.
AT A GLANCE
MERCEDES-AMG GLE 53 COUPE
PRICE $185,840 drive-away (cost of wow factor)
WARRANTY/SERVICE 5yr/unlim’ km w’ty (good for prestige), $5200 for 5 years of servicing (hefty)
ENGINE 3.0-litre 6-cyl hybrid, 320kW/520Nm (big firepower)
SAFETY 5 stars, 9 airbags, AEB, active cruise control, lane keeping assistance, rear cross-traffic alert (good tech)
THIRST 9.3L/100km (11.5 on test)
CARGO 655 litres (spacious)
SPARE Space saver (only option)