The latest G-Class SUV, the new for 2017 AMG GLE43, is here. It’s the replacement for the outgoing GLE400, and aims to win the hearts, minds, and checkbooks of America’s Carmela Soprano types. No, you’re not going to go pounding through Moab in the thing (although you might be able to) but you will look fabulous parking in front of the nail salon.
Okay, okay, so maybe that’s a cheap dig and an easy shot to take, but it should be pointed out that’s who Mercedes-Benz is aiming for here.
If you’re into serious off-roading, and you need to do it in something with a three-pointed star on the hood, you should probably buy a Uni-mog. Your next step up from that would be a Panzer or something Rommel would have rolled around Tunisia in.
Anyway, I actually like the first iterations of the G-Class. The Gelandewagen is, in my view, what an unpretentious SUV should be: practical, boxy, structurally uncompromising, lacking in nearly any sort of style; those sorts of things.
However, my tastes are not the mass market tastes (duh) and people, even people who buy absurdly large SUVs that will never see terrain more extreme then the grass at little Alistair’s lacrosse match, actually do care about style, and creature comforts, and number and size of DVD screens.
It’s also an interesting data point that a lot of buyers of AMG packaged vehicles tic that option because it is very expensive and has a lot of goodies slathered all over it. Near as I can tell anyway. Which is sad, because AMG is, of course, the performance division. The people tasked with making any given Mercedes go, turn, and stop better.
To wit, the 2017 Mercedes AMG GLE43.
The first thing Mercedes-Benz points out is the engine bay. In this case it’s a 362 horsepower AMG-enhanced 3.0L V6 biturbo engine. Although a German company, they sometimes take the American approach to performance (i.e. “stuff a bigger engine in there!!”).
However, they have taken an only somewhat curious route here.
In the past, G-Class vehicles would get these big stonking V8s with superchargers the size of toilet tanks wadded into the engine bay. It was honestly surprising just how fast you could get a truck to accelerate. But, Mercedes-Benz is, if nothing else, not just an engineering company, but a German engineering company. And there are, on the horizon, serious issues to be dealt with.
The Eurozone has some fairly stringent figures to hit concerning things like fuel efficiency and amount of pollution a car can put out. So, sadly in a way, gone are the days when Mercedes-Benz would do something like cram a V12 with a couple of blowers into a C-Class just because they could.
Hence, a rather large ride like the 2017 GLE being motivated by a V6. And only 3 liters at that.
Engine & Transmission
Not that this translates into a lack of performance as power comes from the aforementioned 3.0L V6 biturbo engine. Mercedes-Benz has taken to using the term “AMG-enhanced” which is kind of worryingly weasel-esque if you ask me. Anyway, said plant cranks out 362 horsepower and 384 lb-ft. of peak torque, which should be more than enough to motivate this thing down the Strasse with surprising rapidity.
The engine is coupled to an AMG-enhanced 9G- TRONIC 9-speed automatic transmission. So optimal torque and power band utilization blah-blah-blah, who cares, it’s gonna move down the line, even though it’s a truck (of sorts).
Also standard is an AMG Performance 4MATIC all-wheel drive system (take that Audi!) and AMG- tuned steering. There’s also an AMG braking system, AMG Sport Suspension, and throttle mapping.
Safety & Security
The 2017 Mercedes-AMG GLE43 comes loaded with active and passive safety features, each designed to keep you out of trouble.
DISTRONIC PLUS with Steering Assist: radar-based cruise control system with semi-autonomous steering inputs that can work from 0-124 mph depending on road conditions.
PRE-SAFE Brake: Autonomously brakes the vehicle up to 31 mph with or without driver input, and can partially mitigate accidents up to 45 mph.
PRE-SAFE PLUS: rear-facing radar that senses possible rear collisions and prepares the vehicle for a possible secondary incident into an active intersection.
BAS PLUS with Cross Traffic Assist: reads cross-traffic encounters with stereoscopic cameras and adds appropriate brake assistance to prevent an incident in an active intersection, also using rear-facing radar.
Sure, Mercedes-Benz might be serving the up-scale ex-urban market, but they’ll pinch on the engineering and performance over Rudolf Uhlenhaut’s dead body. Okay, he’s been dead for a while, but you get my point.
However, Mercedes-Benz also points out the GLE43 will have a “distinctive and sporty exterior” with “unique interior features” that include paddle shifters and other AMG-specific items like optional sport seats.
Gotta love German engineers.
The 2017 Mercedes-AMG GLE43should arrive in showrooms by early next year.
Tony Borroz has spent his entire life around racing antique and sports cars. He means well, even if he has a bias towards lighter, agile cars rather than big engine muscle cars or family sedans.