Wednesday, July 15, 2020


You would think that any person fairly cognizant of the automotive world would have no problem distinguishing a coupe from an SUV.

After all, an SUV is a somewhat boxy vehicle with four doors and a big storage area in the back often coming with three rows of seats while a coupe is a smaller version (usually) of a sedan but with only two doors, right?

That’s probably what most observers would go with, but then they probably haven’t seen the 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLE 53 Coupe.

At least “coupe” is what the Germans call it. Forget about that sporty little two-door with a minimal trunk and room enough for to seat only two adults comfortably in the back.

At 195.3 inches long and riding on optional 21-inch wheels, the AMG GLE 53 “Coupe” is right up there with many full-size sedans, and, yes, it seats five and has four doors for easy access to the back. That alone would disqualify it as a “coupe” in the eyes of many, including auto reviewers.

But if Mercedes wants to call it a Coupe, who am I to argue?

Perhaps the solution is to label it a “coupe-style” SUV to separate it from the more traditional SUV model such as the AMG GLE 63 S I reviewed in May (see archive listings on the right). That’s what some reviewers do, and it seems to work.

The AMG GLE 53 Coupe comes with a performance-tuned, 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged in-line 6 cylinder engine rated at a peak 429 horsepower and 384 pound-feet of torque with another 21 hp and 184 lb.-ft. coming from the EQ Boost electric starter-generator.

That results in a zero-to-60 mph clocking of 5.2 seconds and an electronically limited top speed of 155 mph, according to company clockers.

The engine is mated to a 9-speed automatic transmission and may be set in seven different drive modes — Comfort, Sport, Sport+, Individual, and Slippery (with reduced power and a flat torque curve for slick surfaces) as well as Trail and Sand for going off-road. An AMG performance version of Mercedes’ 4MATIC all-wheel drive system also is included.

Fuel economy ratings from the government for the AMG GLE 53 Coupe are 18 miles-per-gallon city, 23 highway and 20 combined which pretty much mirror the 18/22/19 for the GLE 53 SUV.

The GLE 53 Coupe does have an aggressive look about it, though the exterior is not for everyone’s tastes, at least judging by one of the responses it got from a neighbor of mine. (I’ll be kind here and not quote him directly).

The front fascia has an in-your-face look about it with an extra large Mercedes tri-star logo in the middle of the yawning grille. The bulky rear looks like designers simply ran out of ideas of how to finish it off smoothly.

The interior is another story. AMG touches such as red contrast stitching on the leather seats raises the level of the high-class cabin up a notch.

Standard features included in the AMG GLE 53’s base $76,500 MSRP include a panorama sunroof, keyless entry with push-button start, a 12.3-inch touchscreen display smoothly integrated into a 12.3 inch instrument cluster giving the dash a striking appearance, MBUX infotainment features, a Burmeister premium sound system, heated front seats, dual-zone climate control, and LED headlights.

Standard safety systems include attention assist, active brake assist, active park assist, a high-def rear-view camera, and the company’s Pre-Safe Occupant Protection system.

Extras such as natural grain gray oak wood interior trim, 21-inch, 5-spoke black AMG wheels, active lane-keeping assist, and a technology package that includes augmented video for navigation ran the bottom line to $84,105 including the $995 destination and delivery charge.

What I liked about the 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLE 53 Coupe: The performance is at a high level (not the highest in the GLE portfolio; that would be the AMG GLE 63 S), and it is a very comfortable, quiet cruiser. Technology is plentiful.

What I didn’t like about the 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLE 53 Coupe: Sorry, Mercedes, but your designer missed it with the exterior for me. The sloping roofline makes it tricky to get into the driver’s seat without bumping your head, but my No. 1 issue is with the touchpad system for operating infotainment functions. It continues to befuddle me. It’s just too easy to change settings, including radio stations, with an accidental brush of your hand as you reach for something in the cupholder.

Would I buy the Mercedes-AMG GLE 53 Coupe? No. The downsides (exterior design, MBUX infotainment operation) simply outweigh the upsides (performance, comfort, capacity) for me. But appearance is largely a matter of taste, and you may like the way it looks. If performance is what you’re looking for in a family hauler, have it at!

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