The new Mercedes-AMG GLE 53 has arrived, complete with sporty looks, an interior woven with red stitching, a powerhouse engine, an advertised cure for turbo lag and an introduction that uses some form of the word “dynamic” 25 times. But don’t get too excited, because it won’t be in the U.S. for a while.
Mercedes announced the all-wheel-drive SUV before its debut at the Geneva Motor Show in March, along with its 3.0-liter, turbocharged inline-six engine that makes a rated 429 horsepower and 384 lb-ft of torque through a nine-speed automatic transmission. There’s an optional, foldable third row, too, if your sport SUV needs to get even more practical.
But that power and functionality won’t help the SUV get to the U.S. any faster, since Mercedes said it won’t go on sale in America until “late 2020.” In timeline terms, this debut is like sending a graduation announcement in the ninth grade.
Regardless, the engine in the GLE 53 isn’t just your normal inline six. Mercedes made this one into mild hybrid with a claimed time of 5.2 seconds to go from a standstill to 60 mph, and the big brags on the SUV are its electric auxiliary compressor and EQ Boost starter-generator.
The electric compressor basically acts as a turbo before the turbo, building up boost pressure before the big gas turbo kicks in and phasing out turbo lag. The starter-generator briefly gives the SUV an extra 21 HP and 184 lb-ft of torque, Mercedes said, and feeds the 48-volt on-board electrical system.
Here’s the deal with the starter-generator, via Mercedes:
The EQ Boost starter-generator combines a starter and generator in a powerful electric motor and is fitted between the engine and transmission. [...]
The EQ Boost starter generator is a key component of the 48 V system and not only serves as a generator, but is also responsible for hybrid functions. [...]
Because the belt 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 when compared with conventional six-cylinder engines.
Mercedes said the whole idea here is to reduce fuel consumption and emissions, without throwing out the driving characteristics that warrant AMG performance badges all over the vehicle.
There are a lot of badges, too, along with and red accents stitched into the GLE 53’s black leather interior, to make the SUV look like it fits right into Mercedes’ AMG lineup. It also comes with seven driving modes, although it’ll likely be stuck in its standard setting more often than it ever should be—there’s “slippery” mode, for slippery roads, “comfort,” “sport,” “sport plus,” “trail,” “sand” and a custom setting.
Plenty of other vehicle settings can be sorted through in Mercedes’ massive MBUX infotainment system, which is somehow longer than the wait will be before this thing is on U.S. dealer lots. The GLE 53 will also get the AMG Track Pace app if an owner wants to see how they do with it on track, along with its own fragrance, called “AMG#63,” with a “sporty scent to match the spirit of the performance sports car brand.” Things were going well up until that point.
Given all of that and the things it has going on under the hood, the new AMG GLE 53 seems like it’ll look, perform and smell (?) the part of a performance SUV, which is about all we can really ask in the age of performance SUVs.
Correction, March 7, 2019 at 10:43 a.m. ET: This story previously said that the GLE has Alcantara accents on the interior, but the accents weren’t made by the Alcantara brand. We regret the error.