AMG boosts its lineup with new GLE 53 hybrid sport utility
If the 577-horsepower AMG GLE 63 sport utility from Mercedes Benz has a bit more power than you need, Daimler’s performance brand is now offering the GLE 53. It features a mild-hybrid inline six-cylinder engine, along with fully variable all-wheel-drive, seven drive modes, some special to the GLE 53, and AMG Active Ride Control.
An AMG-exclusive radiator grille with 15 vertical strips visually distinguishes the new SUV from more plebeian GLE models. Your ears will also be able to separate the 53 from its more common siblings, as it has driver-adjustable exhaust flaps to tune the exhaust note to the driver’s liking.
The highlight of the new seven-seat AMG is what Mercedes is calling an “electrified” 3.0-liter gasoline engine with both exhaust -powered turbocharging and an auxiliary electrically-powered compressor. The engine alone produces 429 horsepower and 384 lb-ft of torque. The EQ Boost starter-generator can provide an additional 21 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque when assisting the combustion engine. That unit also provides power for the GLE’s 48-volt electrical system.
The EQ Boost device relies on the fact that electromagnetism works in both directions. If you mechanically spin a direct current motor, it will generate electricity, so the EQ boost can be used to both start the engine and provide electrical current once the engine is running and spinning the EQ Boost. Conversely, the motor can take the spinning energy of the engine during coasting and braking to charge the 48-volt batteries. The device is located between the engine and transmission. The goal is to improve performance while reducing fuel use and emissions. The result is a 5.2 second 0–60 mph time.
To prevent turbo lag, an auxiliary electric compressor builds boost while the exhaust powered turbo is spinning up to speed.
When operating in generator mode, the EQ Boost supplies the 48-volt main electrical system of the GLE, with a DC-to-DC converter dropping things down for the electrical components that still run on 12 volts. The 48v system allows for greater battery capacity as well as weight reduction. Higher voltage also means it can use lower current, and fewer amps means thinner wires, allowing for some weight reduction in the wiring harness. The relatively high power of the EQ Boost when in starter mode is said to allow for “virtually imperceptible” restarting when in start/stop mode.
The EQ Boost also let the engineers eliminate the ancillary drive belt on the front of the engine, creating more space to locate the exhaust gas aftertreatment emissions control system where it will work more efficiently.
The AMG GLE 53 comes with an AMG-tuned nine-speed automatic transmission with a Sport+ mode, which provides snappier shifting (in both automatic and paddle shifted modes) than in the stock GLE. AMG has also modified the stock Mercedes 4Matic all-wheel-drive system, now billed as “AMG Performance 4MATIC+ all-wheel-drive.” The rear axle drives the vehicle all the time. Sensors on the steering help determine how much torque is applied to the front wheels. AMG says in addition to improving traction and handling, this improves “longitudinal dynamics,” a fancy way of saying it’s faster off of the line.
The Airmatic suspension-based AMG Active Ride Control is used to improve agility, optimize traction, and provide for neutral cornering through active roll stabilization and fully variable torque distribution.
The active roll stabilization has electro-mechanical actuators that independently control the front and rear axles to reduce body roll when cornering. Handling is also improved by rack-and-pinion steering with an AMG-specific steering ratio.
I doubt you’ll ever see an AMG GLE 53 on a course, but should you desire to track your SUV, an AMG Track Pace data recorder is an option.
Sales will begin late next year. No pricing details have been released yet.