Mercedes adds AMG fix to new GLE43 SUV

The 2017 Mercedes-Benz GLE43 AMG outside Wray High School. (Bud Wells photo)

A special new model, the 2017 Mercedes-Benz GLE43 AMG, was the SUV of choice for my annual Memorial weekend circle drive to Wray and Sterling and back to our Front Range home, which was in Denver for many years and more recently in Greeley.

For the Mercedes to show up for the drive was fitting, for its AMG dvision is celebrating its 50th anniversary.

The new GLE, an all-new successor to the former ML, is part of the newly launched 43AMG series featuring a powerful 6-cylinder engine and a shorter-shift-timed 9-speed automatic transmission.

An early AMG road-race winner for Mercedes, the 1971 300 SEL 6.8. (Mercedes-Benz)

AMG, founded in Germany in 1967 by Hans-Werner Aufrecht and Erhard Melcher as a sports car and performance brand, is a wholly owned subsidiary of Daimler AG, producers of Mercedes-Benz automobiles.

The GLE43 AMG I drove is equipped with a 3.0-liter biturbo V-6 engine of 362 horsepower and 384 lb.-ft. of torque. Its sport suspension, all-wheel-drive system, braking and dynamic select-shift were enhanced along with the engine/tranny by AMG.

Most of my driving time with the GLE was split between Comfort and Sport in the select-shift feature; other choices are Sport-plus, Snow and Individual modes. The upgraded suspension of double-wishbone front and multilink rear, both with air springs and torsion bars, is of firm response in lateral movements.

It was quiet in the pretty little town of Wray; most everyone apparently attending the high school graduation ceremonies Saturday morning. Bonanza Ford was closed; the building originated 74 years ago as Dale Wells Ford Garage, where I tagged my dad around. The Wray Gazette was closed, as was the Upstairs Downtown restaurant. So, Jan and I drove out to the north edge of town for lunch at the Sandhiller, where Julie Koch, who with husband Duane has run the restaurant and motel since 1990, sat down for a nice visit.

A fun discovery among all the high-tech innovation in the Mercedes was a working cigarette (or cigar) lighter in the center console; I’ve not seen that in several years (save your e-mails, I’m not a smoker).

The midsize GLE, with large, comfortable front seats, is a five-passenger SUV crossover boasting 38 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats. On a wheelbase of 114.8 inches, it is 189.6 inches in length and weighs in at a heavy 4,987 pounds. Tow rating is 7,200 pounds. It rides on 21-inch wheels with Continental CrossContact 265/40R21 tires. Running boards are attached so tightly into the GLE’s underside, they’re almost too narrow for use.

The Saturday drive of 350 miles lifted the Mercedes’ overall fuel mileage to 22.7; its EPA estimate is 17/23.

With AMG and safety options, sticker price climbed to $83,745 for the GLE. Included were multicontour front seats, power panorama roof, the 21-inch wheels, saddle brown leather interior and harman/kardon surround-sound. Among safety additions were distance pilot, active brake assist, lane-keeping, surround view, adaptive high beams.

The 2013 Mercedes SL63 AMG Roadster. (Bud Wells photos)

The finest M-B AMG model I’ve driven was four years ago, the 2013 Mercedes-Benz SL63 AMG Roadster of 557 horsepower and an astounding 664 lbs.-ft. of torque, with price tag of $171,225.