|✓ Solid power, acceleration||☓ Numb steering, touchy brakes|
|✓ Head-turning style||☓ Firm (sometimes choppy) ride|
|✓ Decently roomy, even with the lower roofline||☓ Some cheap-feeling interior bits|
|✓ Tech, tech, tech and more tech||☓ For an “entry-level” AMG, this gets expensive fast|
This Mercedes-AMG GLE Coupe is better rounded than its predecessor. But should you pay nearly $100K for it?
I completely understand, right from the outset, that this car will only appeal to a certain group of enthusiasts. I’ve struggled to grasp the whole “coupe-like SUV” phenomenon, as my mind cannot compute sacrificing one of the SUV’s core tenets — practicality — purely for the sake of aesthetics. However, beauty is truly in the eyes of the beholder, and after some time with the Mercedes-AMG GLE 53 Coupe I (sort of) started to get it.
To further address that particular elephant in the room, you need to cast away your practical mind to get this type of car. This Mercedes does indeed turn some heads, and the real fun part comes when you actually start to drive it. Thanks to a combination of the GLE Coupe’s styling, its onboard tech and its 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-6 pushing out 429 horsepower, this coupe-fied SUV is more fun than you might give it credit for at first glance.
Actually, another note on the styling front: this GLE looks way better from the back than it does head-on, particularly thanks to the absence of that insanely large badge on the AMG’s grille.
With the GLE Coupe, it’s AMG or nothing
While you can buy the conventional SUV in a host of different flavors, there’s only two choices available for the GLE Coupe. You can get the entry-level 53 I’m testing here, or you can spend at least $118,900 for the V-8 Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S. Of course, that’s assuming you can even find one in this crazy world of shortages, supply chain issues and berserk dealer markups.
Nevertheless, this entry-level model offers up one of Mercedes’ best modern engines, in my opinion. Their latest 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-6 is a fantastically good engine, putting out 429 horsepower and 384 lb-ft of torque in this configuration. Mated up to a 9-speed automatic transmission, this car will fire off upshifts and downshifts with impressive speed and smoothness. Sure, it won’t snap your neck like the full-on 603 hp V-8 will, but it works just fine for most folks’ needs.
0-60 acceleration, for reference, is in the 5.3 second range, according to Mercedes, though it comes up a bit slower than that at a mile above sea level. Still, for a 5,300-pound bruiser, that’s really not bad.
Fuel economy, for what that’s worth to you, comes in at 17 City / 21 Highway / 19 Combined mpg. In mixed driving, I managed 18.8 mpg, so the EPA’s figures seem fairly accurate, if not spectacular. The BMW X6 M50i (with two more cylinders and 94 more horsepower) is only 1 mpg worse in the combined cycle.
Handling is where this car shines, with one caveat
We often say the best thing you can do to any car to make it more confidence-inspiring and fun is fit it with solid rubber. That’s exactly what this Mercedes-AMG GLE 53 Coupe brings to the table, by way of staggered set of Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires (285/40-ZR22 in the front; 325/35-ZR22 in the rear). Not only do the giant 22-inch wheels give the coupe-like SUV some presence, but those tires mated to Mercedes’ 4Matic+ all-wheel drive and the AMG Dynamic Select system makes this a fun package to toss around.
Now, there’s only so much you can do to combat the laws of physics, so this hefty AMG will start to push wide if you carry too much speed into the corners. You can spend an extra $2,500 to upgrade your GLE with AMG’s high-performance brakes for even more stopping power, but on the whole the AMG 53 provided an engaging experience on some Colorado back roads…mostly.
The on-paper figures all look good and it’s a fun experience as a package. That said, the ride is remarkably firm (and a bit choppy if you live somewhere with rough roads), and the GLE doesn’t provide much feedback to let you know what’s going on at a given moment. The steering feels over-boosted and the brakes come on hard at the slightest press — so you’re sometimes left having to guess how to modulate both until you get used to it. It’s not horrific by any stretch, but as an enthusiast I yearn for sharp and well-weighted controls — something the Porsche Cayenne S Coupe nails.
The Mercedes-AMG GLE 53 Coupe brings a ton of tech, but watch out with the options
While the GLE 53 strikes a pretty good balance on performance, it really excels when it comes to technology. As standard fare, you get two 12.3-inch displays — one for instruments and the other for infotainment — as well as the now-ubiquitous MBUX system. To that, this and the V-8 models bring in AMG-specific settings, be it for the ample number of drive modes or actual performance pages through the center screen. Whether you want to see how much g-force you can pull, monitor the suspension over bumps or check out how much power and torque the engine’s putting out at any moment, Mercedes has you covered.
Bolstering the standard equipment list are features including 64-color ambient lighting, a panoramic sunroof, driver attention assist, active LED headlights and the aforementioned Dynamic Select drive mode system. There are seven modes in total: Comfort, Sport, Sport+, Slippery, Sand, Trail and Individual, with each tailoring the engine, transmission, suspension and throttle mapping to suit.
On balance, Mercedes does a pretty good job of keeping the most-used features closest to hand, so everything is reasonably straightforward to operate. There isn’t a ton of capacitive, haptic feedback or touchscreen nonsense. While it’s perhaps not the most evocative interior in the business, it’s also not bewildering to the everyday user.
At $79,500 to start, my only big gripe is with the pervasiveness of hard, black plastics and relative lack of padding throughout the interior. You do get some nice accent stitching and padded surfaces where it really counts, but there are some parts that don’t look or feel especially premium when you climb inside. The brown walnut trim is a nice touch, but it is a $160 option.
No really, keep track of the options
Speaking of which, let’s cover the nicer elements of the Mercedes-AMG GLE 53 Coupe’s interior. A lot of equipment comes standard, but there are far more extra-cost options. It all adds up and getting the bells and whistles can really drive the price up fast. In total, this car has $14,525 in options. Check every option box, and you can add about $35,000 to the car’s price tag. Or, to put it in other terms, the cost of a Hyundai Veloster N.
Specifically, Mercedes-Benz fitted this GLE Coupe with black Nappa leather seats, as a $2,990 option. The Lunar Blue Metallic paint is an extra $750, plus the relatively reasonable walnut trim. The 22-inch cross-spoke wheels are an extra $2,850, while the MB-Tex faux leather dashboard and door trim is an extra $350. Want the extra “AMG Drive Unit” control buttons beneath the media controls on the steering wheel? That’s another $400.
Multi-contour massaging seats (a very nice feature, mind you) is $1,100. Heated and ventilated front seats are $450, and the head-up display is $1,100. Among some smaller options, the Driver Assistance Package Plus is a $1,950 option. That adds in Active Distance Assist (Distronic), Active Lane Change Assist, Evasive Steering Assist, navigation-based cruise control and a host of other driver aids. Oh, and the Parking Assistance Package with a 360-degree camera is another $500, because Surround View is almost always an extra-cost option no matter which car you buy.
All right, is the 2022 Mercedes-AMG GLE 53 Coupe worth it?
If you know what you’re coming into and have a desire for a higher-riding performance car with sleeker styling, the GLE Coupe is certainly worth a look.
In this specific sort of segment, it’s a well-rounded choice that leaves me satisfied with its everyday livability. It’s a bit roomier (especially for rear-seat passengers) than the BMW X6, and far less expensive than the $96,000-plus Porsche Cayenne S Coupe. If you really want to go berserk with options, just try to build a Porsche sometime.
Pulling the trigger on the 2022 Mercedes-AMG GLE 53 Coupe against its main European competition will mainly come down to your stance on tech, driving prowess and style. Against the Audi Q8/SQ8, BMW X6 and Porsche Cayenne Coupe, the GLE hits on all three the best while maintaining a price-to-performance advantage — at least if you’re careful with the Merc’s options.
Speaking of Mercedes, check out one of TFL’s latest purchases below: