Mercedes-Benz is trying its hand at an entry level AMG line. Think of it as a half AMG, you don’t get the insane power of a full AMG machine but it still employs a host of theatrics to make the experience exciting. The GLE450 AMG is the first of the AMG Sport lineup we have tested and also our first taste of the new 3-Litre V6 biturbo engine that will also be introduced into the C-Class next year.
Where does the GLE450 AMG fit in?
We have had some experience with the GLE Coupe, having road tested the diesel version and drag-raced the 63 AMG S against the BMW X6 M. It’s only fair then that we sample the middle of the range model. It’s certainly makes a statement out on the road, especially with the optional 22-inch wheels you see here – standard fitment is 21-inch. With such big wheels it looks like a decent sized monster truck.
The new engine
Under the bonnet is the latest and greatest turbo petrol engine from Mercedes-Benz. It’s a 3-Litre V6 biturbo unit with 270 kW and 520 Nm of torque. It makes all the noises you would expect from a full AMG banger and when you switch the drive-select mode to Sport + it ramps it up even further. Come off the throttle pedal and the overrun pops, bangs and gargles its way down the revs. It really is a playful engine and the acceleration it delivers is impressive to boot. It races through the revs and despite having to lug two-tonnes around still feels racy from pull off. The numbers suggest it’s quite rapid with a 0-100kph of 5.7 seconds and a top speed of 248kph. Mercedes also claims the average fuel consumption of this GLE450 AMG to be 9.4L/100km. This is not going to happen! Any time spent on the throttle sends the instantaneous consumption readout over 20L/100km. In fact the best average consumption figure we achieved was 15L/100km.
The mighty (and thirsty) V6 is connected to a nine-speed automatic gearbox. The shifts are quite seamless but the gearbox struggles to choose a gear, sometimes resulting in surprising up and down shifts. Software updates will no doubt improve the shift timings going forward.
Out on the road
Apart from attracting all the attention, the GLE450 AMG Coupe is quite pleasant to drive in comfort mode. Despite the massive wheels it still cushions bumps nicely and smooths out dirt roads. The air suspension setup is aimed more towards comfort than the BMW X6 but the GLE lifts up under acceleration and dives at the nose under braking. It’s by no means floppy out on the road and if you fiddle with the drive select modes and aim for Sport or Sport + it starts to feel more sporty and firm.
Cruising out on the open road and freeways is where the GLE Coupe shines the brightest. The softer setup makes for a comfortable cruiser and with all of Mercedes’ Distronic features, you can let the car get on with eating up the miles whilst you get comfortable. Our GLE450 AMG Coupe was fitted with the Steering Assist system that automatically steers the car if you start to drift lanes. The system is perfect for highway driving as the car takes over the job of speeding up and slowing down as well as keeping you in the lane (provided your hands are at least on the steering wheel).
Living it large
Inside the GLE Coupe, it’s a spacious and lavish place to spend time in. There’s ample space in the front for bits and bobs and the infotainment system is one of the best in the business. The navigation system could be more user friendly but with a sim card inserted, the Google search functionality should improve Point of Interest results. Passengers in the rear have their own climate controls and leg room for even the largest of people is sufficient. The boot is long and reasonably wide, although the sloping roofline of the coupe means you have to pack tall things against the rear seats. From then on you have to ‘pyramid’ pack your way down as the roofline constricts loading height.
The GLE450 AMG is a brutish heavyweight with a mighty punch under the bonnet. That punch comes at more of a cost to fuel economy than we expected. As a daily mule it’s comfortable out on the open road and with Mercedes’ tech onboard it can be a pleasure to live with on the long journeys. The GLE Coupe can still be considered practical despite the sloping roofline although other than the subjective styling appeal and the 450 AMG power there’s no definitive advantage over a standard GLE400.
Mercedes-Benz GLE450 AMG Coupe Price in South Africa
The Mercedes-Benz GLE450 AMG Coupe costs R1 110 057 and comes with a two-year/unlimited km warranty and six-year/100 000 km Maintenance plan.
We Like: Blasting power, acoustic theatrics, build quality
We don’t Like: Has a drinking problem
Also consider: Range Rover Sport, BMW X6
Mercedes-Benz GLE450 AMG Coupe – Quick Specs