The performance division of Mercedes has conjured up another niche vehicle that, well, is not easily classified. Like all AMG models, the GLE 53 is sporty yet solid, has traces of an SUV and the grandeur of a coupe, all in one highly sophisticated yet bulging package.

It’s high-waisted hatchback design with up to 22-inch wheels has a commanding presence. It is powered by a turbocharged inline-six with a 48-volt electric supercharger. The EQ Boost is a form of hybrid that gives short bursts of power to offset turbo lag and aid fuel efficiency from its 429 ponies.

Pros:

Stunning looks

Adult room all around

Full digital dashboard

Cons:

Pencil gear shift on column

Limited storage

Blind spots

The GLE hits 60 mph in 5.2 seconds. If you need more there is a higher-powered, twin turbo V8 sibling GLE 63 S that will reach the mark in 2.9 seconds in our independent testing for around $40,000 more. Enough said.

What separates the GLE 53 from other $70s priced cars is its level of technical advancements that challenge the driver to customize every detail of its performance.

The GLE is equipped with a nine-speed transmission with paddle shifters but aside from that enhancement there is a rotary dial within the steering wheel to select multiple driving modes, each re-configuring gearing, suspension and steering effort.

From Comfort to Sport Plus, custom settings and a track mode, the GLE delivers your penchant for speed or efficiency. Its variable torque all-wheel-drive sends power to the wheels needing most traction and can vary from AWD to 100 percent rear-wheel-drive.

We found straight line acceleration a must to complete the driving experience of this machine. It grips the pavement firmly in all road conditions and it’s hard not to enjoy running through the gears.

Depending on your mood, exhaust can purr while boulevard cruising or roar while emitting zips and pops from its quad blacked out tips. The GLE has more driver adjustments than most cars on the road although some mid console toggles could use more definition.

The rakish roofline is a real standout with the 2½ ton GLE as it merges an SUV height with a Coupe for an abnormal look. A new front grill and rear taillight design round out the exterior and oversize wheels keep the body panels, well, up in the air to maintain its higher perch.

A technology-laden cabin greets front seat occupants with multi-power seat adjustments and an automatic adjustor that selects the optimum tilt, height and lumbar based on your height.

Nighttime driving is a must to appreciate its variable 64-color ambient light show. Contrast stitching is reinforced with matching color seatbelts to complete the enhancement. Pretty cool.

The GLE’s focal point is its matching high-quality digital instrument cluster and touchscreen that places audiophile sound, navigation, connectivity, entertainment, performance and comfort adjustments at your fingertips. The design is impressive.

There are a few rivals in this segment to check out including Audi Q8, Porsche Cayenne Coupe and BMW X6 M50i although each is tens of thousands more.

2021 Mercedes-AMG GLE 53 Coupe

Engine: 3.0-liter inline 6 turbo with EQ Boost

EPA rated mileage: 18 city, 23 highway, 20 combined.

Assembly: Final assembly at facilities in Vance, AL. U.S. / Canadian parts content – 61 percent. Major source of foreign parts, Germany – 27 percent. Country of origin – engine & transmission – Germany

Crash Test Ratings: The GLE 53 Coupe had not been tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) as of this writing.

Warranty: 4 year/50,000 Limited and Power Train coverage.

Contact independent automotive columnist Len Ingrassia at lenscarcorner@comcast.net

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