Mercedes has unveiled its latest SUV – the GLE Coupe. It aims to combine the rugged looks of an SUV with the sportier shape of a coupe. The formula has been a real sales success for the BMW X6, which so far has been uncontested in this rather obscure niche.
In addition to standard petrol and diesel models, an AMG Sport version will be offered. It won’t quite offer the full-fat insanely powerful AMG experience, but comes with many of the trimmings that give the appearance of one, inside and out. In other words, think of it as you would BMW’s M Sport models.
What else is new?
Mechanically, the GLE coupe is based on the ML class (which in line with a new model naming strategy, will be known as the GLE from 2016). As a result, it shares many similarities to the regular 4×4 mechanically, but several changes have been made to provide the sleeker GLE with a sporty feel that customers would expect from a “coupe”.
The standard suspension uses a regular coil springs, but an optional Airmatic system pairs air springs with electronic adaptive dampers, allowing the driver to select settings between Comfort and Sport +, depending on their mood. All of these settings have been firmed up in comparison to those of the regular ML to provide a more agile drive. Likewise the steering’s ratio has been quickened for an even sharper feel. The four-wheel drive system splits power evenly between the front and rear axle in standard models, while the AMG Sport offers a more rear-biased 40:60 split.
Styling wise, there are numerous changes to the car on which it is based. The front is dominated by a large upright grille housing a prominent three pointed star and single louvre. The grille is flanked by full-LED headlights, beneath which sits an aluminium strip which lines the bottom of the bumper.
That all sounds standard Mercedes fare so far, but it’s along the sides and around the back where things become a little more unusual. Here, the usual squared-off estate shape common among SUVs is shunned in favour of a sleeker coupe-like profile. A small rear window and tail lights are inspired by a look first seen on the S-Class Coupe and most recently on the AMG GT. From there the back end drops away vertically, while two large exhaust pipes poke out from either end of the bumper. Depending on which model buyers choose, alloy wheels up to 22 inches in diameter can be squeezed within the chunky arches.
The interior of the GLE coupe will be very familiar to anyone who has sat inside the regular ML class. The main differences up front are the introduction of a larger, more upright information display, and a sportier, more attractive three spoke steering wheel. AMG Sport models throw in extra streaks of aluminium trim, sports seats, and a flat-bottomed steering wheel. Due to the sloping roof line, headroom is inevitably compromised in the rear, but the rear bench still seats three.
What powers it?
From launch, three engines will be available: two petrols and one diesel. Petrol models feature the same 3.0-litre V6 biturbo engine, albeit in different states of tune. the GLE 400 produces 333hp, while the 450 AMG offers 367. The 3.0-litre turbodiesel in the 350 d produces 258 horsepower, and an impressive 457lb ft from as little as 1,600rpm. All three engines are paired with Mercedes’ nine speed automatic transmission as standard.
Other than the aforementioned BMW X6, there aren’t any other direct rivals. However, the main competition will likely come from the more practical and cheaper BMW X5 or the Mercedes ML on which the GLE Coupe is based.
When can I have one?
Mercedes is yet to reveal the exact launch date, but the middle of 2015 is likely. Prices are yet to be announced, though the regular ML 350 diesel starts from £51,335. Add to that the roughly £8,000 BMW add from X5 to X6 leaving you with a rough price of just under £60,000.
Want the extra practicality of a larger car with a swoping roofline but don’t like the looks of the GLE? Take a look at Mercedes’ recently revealed CLA Shooting Brake instead.