Mercedes reveals next new model to be built in Alabama

Mercedes reveals next new model to be built in Alabama
The Mercedes-AMG GLE 53 Coupe will be built exclusively in Alabama. (Mercedes-Benz)

The next new vehicle Mercedes-AMG will produce exclusively in Alabama is a crossover that may be the sportiest yet in its SUV line.

The German automaker has unveiled the 2021 GLE 53 Coupe last week and officials have confirmed it will be built at the Mercedes-Benz U.S. International (MBUSI) plant near Tuscaloosa for the worldwide market. It is a revamp of the GLE Coupe currently made at the plant.

A formal announcement is expected later this year at MBUSI and the GLE 53 Coupe is expected to go on sale later in 2020, with pricing likely to be set close to then..

But we don’t have to wait until then to know some particulars.

“The new GLE 53 Coupe adds even more style and elegance to our SUV family, together with hallmark AMG features such as the brand-specific radiator grille,” said Tobias Moers, CEO of Mercedes-AMG GmbH. “The attractive coupe lines envelop sophisticated suspension technology and our powerful, efficient six-cylinder in-line engine with 48-volt technology. Both guarantee a thrilling driving experience in terms of longitudinal and lateral dynamics.”

Let’s break down what that means.

The new GLE Coupe will have six-cylinder, in-line engine provides 429 horsepower and is said to go from 0-60 mph in 5.2 seconds and has an electronically limited top speed of 155 mph. An “EQ Boost” electric starter-generator adds 21 horsepower and combines the function of a starter and an alternator. EQ Boost works in conjunction with an electric auxiliary compressor and an exhaust gas turbocharger to reduce fuel consumption and emissions.

The exterior design includes the radiator grille that marks the GLE Coupe as part of the Mercedes-AMG SUV family. It’s topped by a “powerdome” hood that help give it a more rounded look. Flared wheel arches and 21-inch wheels (22-inch wheels are optional) add to the muscular-meets-sporty look.

The interior design may be the most radical departure from past Mercedes vehicles. Color highlights like bright red contrast stitching and red seat belts make the new GLE 53 Coupe stand out. Ergonomic seats, carbon fiber trim, leather upholstery and other customizable elements allow for a variety of possibilities. There are stainless-steel pedals with rubber studs. The steering wheel is covered in black nappa leather and red stitching with aluminum shift paddles.

EQ Boost also powers a 48-volt, on-board electrical system. There is a widescreen cockpit instrument panel cluster with touchscreen display and functions can be activated simply by saying “Hey, Mercedes.” Other functions can be controlled with swiping finger movements.

 

Handling is enhanced with the “AMG Active Ride Control” stabilization system and “Airmatic,” an air suspension system with continuously adjustable damping that can be set into “comfort,” “sport” and “sport+” modes. Off-road settings of “trail” and “sand” for traction control are also included.

A nine-speed automatic transmission is responsive and comes with seven drive programs. In addition to comfort, sport, sport+, trail and sand, there are “slippery” and “individual.” The former is optimized for slick road conditions while the latter allows for personal adjustments to the drive system, transmission and more. There are also “AMG Dynamic Select” drive programs of “basic,” “advanced” and “pro” levels that influence the electronic stability program (ESP) or the all-wheel drive to automatically determine the driver’s actions and sensor data to make for more stable or dynamic driving.

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