Intended to fill the gap until the super-powerful V8 GLE 63 is released, the 53 offers an impressive 435hp – putting it in direct competition with the 440hp Porsche Cayenne S.
The GLE 53 shares its powertrain with the Mercedes-AMG E 53 saloon. It uses a 3.0-litre straight-six engine with twin turbochargers and a mild hybrid system named EQ Boost. This helps smooth out the power curve, giving the GLE 53 a more linear acceleration and instant response at lower revs.
Overall output is 435hp, with an impressive 520Nm of torque. Coupled to standard four-wheel drive, the GLE 53 will reach 60mph from rest in 5.1 seconds and go on to an electronically limited 155mph top speed. Gearshifts are handled by an eight-speed automatic.
The GLE 53 rides on active air suspension, capable of minimising body lean during cornering and improving the ride over potholes and sharp bumps. Drivers can choose between seven different driving modes to best suit the conditions – Slippery, Comfort, Sport, Sport+, Trail, Sand and Individual.
On the styling front, it’s impossible to ignore the GLE 53’s enormous Panamerica grille, set into a beefier front bumper than on the standard car with larger air ducts for engine and brake cooling.
Body-colour wheel arch extensions replace the standard car’s black ones, while round to the rear there’s a new bumper with quad chromed tailpipes.
The interior remains virtually unchanged, even offering an optional third row of seats to make this one of the fastest seven-seaters on the market.
Prices for the new GLE 53 have yet to be confirmed, but expect to see the GLE 53 making its public debut at the Geneva motor show next week.