The vehicle rides on AMG Ride Control+ air suspension which provides a button-selected option for either a more wafting ride or nimbler handling. There are drive programmes to suit varying conditions including Comfort, Sport and Sport+ modes. There are also two levels for off-road use: Trail and Sand.
For a big hulk the GLE 53 feels reasonably light on its feet and is capable of swift progress through corners without feeling topple-prone, and a high-performance braking system brings this big boy to a swift halt.
The ride quality, on the other hand, could do with some improvement. In comfort mode the air suspension was good at soaking up undulating roads, but the low-profile 22-inch tyres (a R56,800 option) jittered uncomfortably on bumpy surfaces. The standard higher-profile 20-inch tyres should prove more comfortable, and a lot cheaper.
Stylistically the GLE 53 conforms to AMG’s sporty template. It exudes an athletic swagger with its vertical grill louvres, a quartet of exhausts and rear diffuser.
Inside, the athletic ambience is laid on by an AMG Performance steering wheel and combination leather/microfibre upholstery, but opting for more premium Nappa leather will cost R43,000 extra.
The hi-tech MBUX infotainment system comes standard and contains AMG-specific content, while a widescreen cockpit combines the instrument cluster and touchscreen multimedia display into one unit.
It’s an impressive digital display but the aircraft-like instrument panel can be complex and overwhelm you with information sometimes. I wish there was a simple-view setting with the basics, for when I’m just driving to the shops to buy bread, not getting ready to invade another country.