It doesn’t have a V-8, but it’s the most potent six-cylinder GLE that money can buy

Mercedes unveiled the 2020 Mercedes-AMG GLE53 at the 2019 Geneva International Motor Show as the most potent six-cylinder GLE that you can buy. It has over 400 horsepower, a performance- and efficiency-enhancing mild hybrid system, and sporty AMG touches to go with the extra shot of electrified performance. As with all AMG 53-badged models, the GLE53 is powered by Mercedes’ new straight-six engine with two turbochargers. It’s essentially the same unit found in the AMG 43-branded models, the difference being the extra oomph provided by the mild hybrid. And, since it’s the fastest and most powerful model in the range that doesn’t have a V-8, it is very well equipped and features unique AMG design touches.

Mercedes has so far not announced or revealed an AMG 63 version of the all-new GLE, so until then; this GLE53 4Matic+ is the best performing model in the lineup. In fact, Mercedes hasn’t even mentioned a hot, twin-turbo, V8-powered GLE yet, so it might not even make one - Mercedes has also done this for the CLS, a car that can no longer be had with a V-8.

Mercedes-AMG GLE53 Exterior Design

  • Panamericana grille transforms the front end
  • AMG treatment makes it look special
  • Current GLE looks better than the outgoing model
2020 Mercedes-AMG GLE53 Exterior
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Mercedes has tried to keep the new GLE looking like it is visually related to the old one, and it’s succeeded without making the formula feel stale.

On top of that mix of new Mercedes and old GLE design elements, the automaker has grafted on several AMG-specific touches to set the GLE53 apart from lesser models.

Firstly, it has a Panamericana style grille, with vertical bars (fifteen of them), a deeper and more purposeful looking front bumper (in the current AMG style), a sportier rear bumper with big exhaust tips sticking out, and unique AMG rims. The design of the new GLE is overall much more successful than that of the car it replaces, and this sporty AMG makeover improves things further.

left right
Where the previous GLE looked a bit tall and not very planted, this new one is the exact opposite of it (even though it’s roughly the same size.)

Mercedes designers really outdid themselves with the new GLE, and it doesn’t have one awkward angle.

Mercedes-AMG GLE53 Interior Design

  • Sporty AMG steering wheel, carbon fiber trim lift ambiance
  • You must get the wonderful red contrast stitching
  • AMG-branded sports seats have a lot of lateral support
2020 Mercedes-AMG GLE53 Interior
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The sporty AMG theme is continued inside where, at first glance, you may be struck by how much contrasting red stitching there is.

It’s optional, but it’s part of a pack that adds the red center mark on the steering wheel (like you see in some racing cars) and the red seatbelts, among others. I think the combination. It looks absolutely terrific, and it really exudes sportiness through the use of a thick-rimmed, flat-bottom steering wheel and a big swathe of carbon fiber across the dash. This is an option worth getting if you want the interior of your fast GLE 53 to feel proper and sporty.

Even cars without this option still look good and offer a more sober, grown-up ambiance. Other noticeable elements include the big and very chunky grab handles on the tunnel between the front seats or how the car’s two 12.3-inch displays have been integrated into the dash and flanked by a huge air vent on either side.

2020 Mercedes-AMG GLE53 Interior
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The steering wheel is from the latest line of AMG helms, and it’s identical to what is fitted to all current AMG 53- and AMG 63-badged models. It not only has a flat bottom, like many modern wheels but also flat sides in the exact places where you grip the wheel.

The fully digital gauge cluster also has unique and subtle AMG touches, and it looks as good as that on any modern Mercedes, with a subtle sporty twist.

Mercedes-AMG GLE53 Drivetrain and Performance

  • engine has electric supercharger and mild hybrid system
  • packs V8 performance
  • should be more efficient than old GLE 43
2020 Mercedes-AMG GLE53 Drivetrain
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The Mercedes-AMG GLE53 4Matic+ runs a twin-turbo, 3.0-liter, straight-six engine that makes 429 horsepower and 383 pound-feet (520 Nm) of torque.

It is not a more powerful version of the engine that powers AMG 43-branded models, as that engine is a V6. However, it does have additional motivation compared to that engine thanks to an electric compressor.

There’s also a special starter-generator that adds another 22 horsepower and 184 pound-feet (250 Nm) of torque for short bursts thanks to the use of a 48-Volt electric system. It also helps to fill the torque gap between gear changes to provide a more seamless acceleration experience. Power is sent to all four wheels via Mercedes’ 4Matic+ all-wheel-drive system that, most of the time, sends most of the power to the rear tires. The transmission is an AMG TCT nine-speed Speedshift automatic.

The GLE 53 also comes with standard self-leveling air suspension that works in conjunction with the available driving modes: Comfort, Sport, Sport+, as well as Trail and Sand.

2020 Mercedes-AMG GLE53 Exterior
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Mercedes says the GLE 53 can sprint from naught to 62 mph (100 kph) in 5.3 seconds, nearly half a second faster than the previous model year GLE 43 model.

Mercedes also claims that it provides slightly better fuel efficiency, with an expected figure of 25.2 mpg. Top speed is electronically governed at 250 km/h or 155 mph.

This model isn’t exclusively designed to stay strictly on-road as its ride height can be raised by 55 millimeters. The driver can do it independently of the drive modes, but the car does raise itself automatically in the two off-road modes.

2020 Mercedes-AMG GLE 53 2019 Mercedes-AMG GLE 43
Engine Configuration inline-6 V-6
Power 429 horsepower 385 horsepower
Torque (pound feet) 384+184 from electric motor 384
Fuel consumption 25.2 mpg combined (NDEC) 23 mpg (EPA)
0-62 mph 5.3 5.7
Top speed 155 mph 155 mph

Mercedes-AMG GLE53 Pricing

2020 Mercedes-AMG GLE53 Exterior
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Mercedes currently sells the previous-generation GLE 43 model from $68,150 and the hotter V8-powered GLE 63 from $103,050. This means the new model with its in-between powertrain will probably start at around (or slightly above) $80,000 when it goes on sale later this year.

Mercedes-AMG GLE53 Competition

BMW X5 M50d

2019 BMW X5 M50d - Driven
- image 817819

Rival manufacturers are still filling the same niche in their model range with sporty diesel models, like the BMW X5 M50d, a model that blends surprising efficiency with even more surprising performance. Its engine is a 3.0-liter diesel that’s boosted by no fewer than four turbochargers to reach nearly 400 horsepower and bestow the X5 with fast sedan levels of performance. And, since it is a BMW, the performance doesn’t stop when you encounter a corner as the X5 (especially if it’s equipped with rear-wheel steering) will feel agile, nimble, and much smaller than it actually is. This is the mark of a good car, one that feels like it shrinks around you, and the X5 does this better than all comparable rivals.

Read our full review on the 2019 BMW X5 M50d

Audi SQ7

2017 Audi SQ7
- image 668401

The GLE 53’s second rival is another fast diesel, the Audi SQ7. It has a bit more power than the BMW, and its output is closer to that of the Mercedes. It has a 4.0-liter V-8 engine with twin turbos and an electric compressor to keep the turbos spooled up and ready to boost at all times. It makes 435 horsepower, sprints to 62 mph (100 kph) in 4.8 seconds and, according to Audi, it uses a claimed 7.5 l per 100 km - equivalent to 31.4 mpg in the United States.

But both the Mercedes and BMW are much newer models and, while the Q7 still looks good and fairly fresh, they both edge it on modernity and gadgets. It is probably the last of its kind with a diesel engine, and it’s really fast, so if you buy an SQ7, you could be buying a future classic SUV that’s both rare and really fast.

Read our full review on the 2019 Audi SQ7

Final Thoughts

2020 Mercedes-AMG GLE53 Exterior
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With this AMG GLE53 4Matic+, Mercedes aims to offer the new GLE with all the apparent AMG bells and whistles, but without the fire-breathing V-8 engine. The straight-six it comes with, in conjunction with the electric boost and the adaptive suspension should make it a fairly competent sporty SUV on-road, but with the ability to raise its suspension, it should also go further off-road than any GLE before it.

It certainly looks the part with the AMG wheels, bumpers, and other elements, both inside and out. And, while the engine is not a V-8, it certainly packs enough performance to rid one of one’s driving license very quickly. We’re still waiting for Mercedes to reveal an AMG GLE63 with a V-8 before we draw our final conclusions on this tempting six-cylinder AMG SUV.

Further reading

2017 Mercedes-AMG GLE43 High Resolution Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2019 Mercedes-AMG GLE 43 4Matic+.

2020 Mercedes-Benz GLE Exterior
- image 795100

Read our full review on the 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLE.

The SUV trendsetter now with even more power and precision

Affalterbach. Mercedes-AMG launches its performance offering for the new GLE with the GLE 53 4MATIC+ (combined fuel consumption: 9.3 l/100 km; combined CO2 emissions: 212 g/km)1. The basis for the signature AMG driving dynamics is provided by the 320 kW (435 hp) 3.0-litre six-cylinder in-line engine, the fully variable all-wheel drive, the agile 9-speed automatic transmission, the AMG-specific drive programmes and the AMG ACTIVE RIDE CONTROL air suspension based on AMG RIDE CONTROL+ with electro-mechanical roll stabilisation. Thanks to the AMG-specific radiator grille with 15 vertical strips, it is immediately obvious that it is part of the AMG family. Numerous options such as the selectable performance exhaust system and the AMG steering wheel buttons make the driving experience even more emotional.

“As the inventors of the performance SUV, it is important to us to continue to be at the top with the new generation of the GLE when it comes to innovations, driving dynamics, individuality and design. The first step here is the new Mercedes-AMG GLE 53 4MATIC+, with which we offer our customers more power than the predecessor model as well as our fully variable all-wheel technology. Not least of all its striking radiator grill shows our new GLE 53 as a fully-fledged member of the AMG family,” states Tobias Moers, Chief Executive of Mercedes-AMG GmbH.

Always staying nicely in line: six-cylinder engine with twin charging

Its centrepiece is the electrified 3.0-litre engine featuring twin-turbocharging and an electric auxiliary compressor. The 6-cylinder in-line engine generates 320 kW (435 hp) and delivers maximum torque of 520 Nm. Its EQ Boost starter generator briefly provides an additional 16 kW of output plus 250 Nm of torque and additionally feeds the 48 V on-board electrical system.

The EQ Boost starter-alternator combines a starter motor and alternator in a powerful electric motor and is fitted between the engine and transmission. This innovation as well as the intelligent charging via an electric auxiliary compressor and an exhaust gas turbocharger all have the same goal: to enhance the hallmark AMG performance and driving dynamics, but also to reduce fuel consumption and emissions. And this move has been a successful one: the GLE 53 4MATIC+ accelerates from zero to 62 mph in just 5.3 seconds and achieves an electronically limited speed of 155 mph (250 km/h).

It really turns on the pressure: electric auxiliary compressor

The electric auxiliary compressor builds up a high level of boost pressure without any delays until the exhaust gas turbocharger kicks in. As a result the 3.0-litre engine reacts immediately and provides a dynamic response without turbo lag. An additional bonus is the high level of refinement of the six-cylinder in-line engine.

It will be electrifying: 48 V on-board electrical system

The EQ Boost starter-alternator can do even more. It also provides the 48 V on-board electrical system with electricity. The conventional 12 V electrical system is likewise supplied from the new network – by means of a DC/DC converter. The 48 V battery increases the overall battery capacity in the vehicle, which allows it to supply more electrical energy. An additional advantage: the same power requires only a quarter of the current of a conventional system. The result is that the wiring can be thinner and therefore lighter, which indirectly contributes to saving fuel. The existing 12 V system supplies power to consumers such as lights, cockpit, infotainment displays and control units.

It also does hybrid: EQ Boost starter-alternator

The EQ Boost starter generator is a key component of the 48 V system and not only serves as an alternator, but is also responsible for hybrid functions. This allows fuel savings that were previously reserved for high-voltage hybrid technology. For the first time, the EQ Boost starter-alternator is also responsible for idle speed control.

The hybrid functions include boost with 16 kW of output and 250 Nm of torque, energy recovery, shifting of the load point, gliding mode and the virtually imperceptible restarting of the engine with the start/stop function.

Because the belt drive for ancillary components on the front edge of the engine is omitted, the installation length of the new six-cylinder engine is also significantly reduced compared with conventional six-cylinder engines. This creates space for an exhaust gas aftertreatment system mounted near the engine, which is therefore particularly efficient. The particulate filter is the only part of the emission control system that is under the floor.

A special acoustic experience comes courtesy of the optional, selectable AMG Performance exhaust system. The variable adjustable exhaust flaps give the option to change the sound of the vehicle at the press of a button. Depending on the drive programme, the sound characteristics change from unobtrusive comfort through to maximum emotive appeal.

Speedy shifting: AMG SPEEDSHIFT TCT 9G

The AMG SPEEDSHIFT TCT 9-speed automatic transmission (TCT = Torque-Clutch Transmission) ensures seamless gear shifting with extremely short shift times. It is optimally tuned to the engine and promises agile pulling off typical of AMG as well as speedy shifting – regardless of an automatic or manual transmission via the steering wheel shift paddles. Upshifts or downshifts are implemented instantly. Especially in the “Sport+” and in manual driving modes, the transmission is very responsive. Multiple downshifting enables fast bursts of speed, while the double-clutching function makes shift operations acoustically more emotional.

Unlimited grip: AMG Performance 4MATIC+ all-wheel drive

The new GLE 53 4MATIC+ is equipped for maximum traction and dynamics with AMG Performance 4MATIC+ fully variable all-wheel drive. The intelligent steering variably links the permanently driven rear axle with the front axle and continually calculates the optimum torque distribution – depending on the driving situation and the driver’s wishes. The all-wheel drive thus improves longitudinal dynamics as well as traction and lateral dynamics. The outcome: yet more powerful acceleration from a standing position and for short sprints.

Total stabilisation: AMG ACTIVE RIDE CONTROL suspension

Redeveloped in Affalterbach, the AMG ACTIVE RIDE CONTROL suspension based on AMG RIDE CONTROL+ air suspension forms the basis for a driving experience that is characterised by a high level of agility, neutral cornering behaviour and optimal traction. A new feature makes a significant contribution to the AMG-specific tuning for high levels of driving dynamics: the active roll stabilisation with two electro-mechanic actuators working independently of one another on the front and rear axle as well as fully variable torque distribution.

Not only does the system reduce rolling movements when cornering, it also enables more precise tuning of the cornering and load change properties. In addition, it increases the drive comfort when driving straight ahead because stimuli are balanced out by one-sided road bumps, for example. Movements in the body can be actively and optimally adjusted to the driving conditions. This means that the AMG-typical form of the driving characteristics regarding dynamics, precision and response can be even more intensively experienced by the driver.

Another benefit in comparison to the usual hydraulic-based systems is the significantly faster response. The AMG control can adapt the driving status up to 1000 times per second. The sampling rate is thus a mere one-thousandth of a second. There is also the low weight of the components in comparison to the usual solutions.

Especially long breath: air suspension with continuously adjustable damping

The AMG RIDE CONTROL+ air suspension with particularly sporty spring/damper set-up and adaptive adjustable damping ADS+ (Adaptive Damping System) combines outstanding driving dynamics with high ride comfort. The damping characteristics can be preselected in three modes, “Comfort”, “Sport” and “Sport+”, allowing a significantly more noticeable differentiation between long-distance comfort and sporty driving dynamics. In addition, there are two new levels for off-road use – “Trail” and “Sand”.

Thanks to pneumatic self-levelling at the front and rear axle, the GLE 53 4MATIC+ maintains a constant ride height regardless of the vehicle load. The vehicle level is generally lowered by 15 mm in the AMG DYNAMIC SELECT drive programmes “Sport” and “Sport+”. In the “Comfort” drive programme, the vehicle is lowered by 15 mm from a speed of 74 mph (120 km/h). This reduces aerodynamic drag and, in turn, fuel consumption. In addition, handling stability is improved thanks to a lower centre of gravity. In order to increase the ground clearance on poor road surfaces or on ramps, the vehicle body level can be raised by up to 55 mm at the touch of a button with the engine running – both with the car stationary and in motion.

Everything under control: Sports steering and high-performance braking system

The electromechanical speed-sensitive power steering has a variable ratio. It wins over customers with AMG-specific rack and pinion ratio and precise feedback. In addition, steering power assistance is adjusted in the two stages “Comfort” or “Sport”. The configuration is automatically activated based on the selected AMG DYNAMIC SELECT drive programme. They can optionally be personalised at any time in the “Individual” drive programme.

The large sized high-performance braking system reliably slows down the performance SUV even with heavier loads and short braking distances. 400 x 36 mm internally ventilated and perforated integral brake disks are used on the front axle as well as 2-piston fixed callipers painted silver with black AMG lettering. On the rear, the internally ventilated integral brake disks measure 345 x 25 mm and have a 1-piston floating calliper.

Select your programme: AMG DYNAMIC SELECT

The GLE 53 4MATIC+ has seven drive programmes: The levels “Slippery”, “Comfort”, “Sport”, “Sport+” and “Individual” are complemented by two off-road-specific settings: “Trail” and “Sand”. AMG DYNAMIC SELECT adapts important parameters such as the responsiveness of the engine and transmission, the characteristic curve of the accelerator and steering, the suspension damping or even the vehicle’s sound. Selected using the paddle in the centre console or the AMG steering wheel buttons, the programmes are then visualised in the instrument cluster and on the multimedia display.

“Slippery”: optimised for slippery road conditions, with reduced power and a flat torque curve for a driving impression oriented toward stability.
“Comfort”: comfortable and fuel-efficient driving, e.g. thanks to early upshifts. Suspension and steering are set up for an emphasis on comfort.
“Sport”: sporty characteristics thanks to a more agile response to the driver’s accelerator pedal input, shorter shift times, earlier downshifts and significantly more emotive gearshifts owing to double de-clutching. A more dynamic suspension and steering set-up.
“Sport+”: extremely sporty characteristics thanks to an even more agile throttle response, increased acoustic emphasis on double de-clutching during downshifts as well as selective torque control on upshifts with cylinder suppression for optimal shift times. Increased idle speed for faster pulling away. An even more dynamic set-up for suspension, steering and drivetrain.
“Individual”: individual adjustment of the drive system, transmission, AMG DYNAMICS, suspension and exhaust system.
“Trail”: safe driving at maximum performance on soft, muddy or slippery ground.
“Sand”: sporty set-up for the best possible grip and steerability on sandy slopes and in desert dunes.
AMG DYNAMICS vehicle dynamics control is integrated into the AMG DYNAMIC SELECT drive programmes. In the “Basic”, “Advanced” and “Pro” levels, it influences the control strategies of the ESP ® (Electronic Stability Program) or the all-wheel drive. The intelligent pilot control anticipates the desired vehicle behaviour based on the driver’s actions and the sensor data. The spectrum ranges from extremely stable to highly dynamic. Additionally there are the "Traction" and “Slide” levels in the off-road “Trail” and “Sand” drive programmes when the ESP® is deactivated.

Quite the eye-catcher: exterior with AMG-specific radiator grille

The appearance of the GLE 53 4MATIC+ captivates thanks to its exclusivity, powerful sportiness and progressive dominance. Thanks to the AMG-specific radiator grille with 15 vertical chromed strips, it is immediately obvious that it is part of the AMG family. Equally striking is the star in the double ring, the narrow headlamps and the striking A-Wing in the front apron. Apart from the slats in the outer air inlets and the trim element on the A-Wing, the front splitter is also silver chrome-plated. The wheel arches in the same colour as the car provide space for the large wheels – mounted with 20-inch light alloy wheels with AMG lettering as standard. There are seven rim variants optionally available from 20 to 22 inch.

The horizontal chromed diffuser strip in the pronounced rear apron and the special exhaust system with two chromed twin tailpipes underline the powerful appearance from the rear and emphasis the effect of the width. The optional AMG Night Package further enhances the vehicle. It includes heat-insulating, dark tinted windows as well as front splitter, trim elements in the front apron and the outer air inlets, mirror covers, window frames, roof railing, diffuser and tailpipe trim in refined black.

The colour of love: interior design with red accents

The GLE 53 4MATIC+ can be recognised by the characteristic red colour accents. This starts with the seats, fitted as standard with covers in ARTICO / microfibre DINAMICA man-made leather black with red contrasting topstitching. They not only offer optimal lateral support, but also have an AMG-specific design and “AMG” badge in the front seat backrest. The top part of the instrument panel is covered in ARTICO man-made leather. The black roof liner and the trim elements in Anthracite open-pore oak wood underscore the sporty appearance.

Further elements to individualise the interior include different leather seat covers and a wide range of high-quality trim elements, among other items.

A key highlight is the foldable third row of seats (standard in the UK), which make the GLE 53 4MATIC+ a seven-seater. Thanks to the Easy Entry function of the fully electrically adjustable second seat row, the two rearmost passengers can conveniently reach their seats.

Stylishly chic: AMG-specific displays in the MBUX system

The innovative operating and display concept MBUX is included as standard in the GLE 53 4MATIC+ and contains numerous AMG-specific content. With the widescreen cockpit, the instrument cluster and touchscreen multimedia display optically combine into one unit. Numerous functions can also be activated via the intelligent voice-operated control “Hey Mercedes”. The optional MBUX Interior Assist also allows intuitive, natural operation of different comfort and MBUX functions by movement recognition and gestures.

The instrument cluster has its own specific details such as the AMG start-up menu and the four selectable styles: “Classic”, “Sport”, AMG exclusive “Supersport” and “Discreet”. When the AMG-specific DYNAMIC SELECT drive programmes “Trail” and “Sand” are activated, off-road-specific settings such as slope, incline and level can be selected and displayed on the instrument cluster. Rocker switches are embedded in the centre console for displaying and controlling the drive programmes, transmission, suspension, ESP® and exhaust system.

Hands sitting pretty on the steering wheel: AMG Performance steering wheel

The AMG Performance steering wheel in black Nappa leather with red contrasting topstitching and red 12-o’clock marking combines maximum functionality, high-quality haptics and perfect ergonomics. Apart from the aluminium shift paddles, it also impresses thanks to the touch control buttons which are intuitive to operate. The entire infotainment system can be controlled with swiping finger movements.

Sporty fragrance: fuel for the senses

There is an exclusive fragrance for the interior, named “AMG#63” as part of the AIR-BALANCE package. It is an inspiring, sporty scent to match the spirit of the performance sports car brand.

Data at a glance

Mercedes-AMG

GLE 53 4MATIC+

Cylinders/arrangement

6/in-line

Displacement (cc)

2999

Combustion engine output (kW/hp)

320/435

at rpm

6100

Output from EQ Boost (kW/hp)

16/22 hp

Max. torque
Combustion engine (Nm)

520

at rpm

1800-5800

max. EQ Boost torque (Nm)

250

Fuel consumption, combined (mpg)

30.3*1

Combined CO2 emissions (g/km)

212*

Efficiency class

C

Acceleration 0-62 mph (s)

5.3

Top speed (mph)

155**

* The stated figures were determined in accordance with the prescribed measuring method. These are the "NEDC CO2 figures according to Art. 2 No. 1 Implementing Regulation (EU) 2017/1153. The fuel consumption figures were calculated based on these figures.
** Electronically limited

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