For the very first time in 8 years, the BMW X6 has a rival and what a rival! The Mercedes GLE Coupe joins the high-end club of the coupe SUVs. First comparative review of the Mercedes GLE 350 d Coupe up against the BMW X6 xDrive 40d diesel versions.
Ironically, it was not the Mercedes – the inventor of the four-door coupes back in 2004 – to open the ball of the SUV coupes, but BMW in 2008, with the oddball X6. And that was all because the SUV coupe species is somewhat a four-door coupe engrafted on an SUV body.
The niche of the SUV coupes has been played on to the max by BMW for the past 7 years, as they managed to sell no less than 280,000 X6 units, considering the X5 sales have not been impacted and keeping an annual average of 100,000 units.
The X6 formula was extremely profitable for BMW. “Less is more was the X6 motto”: less interior space and more money to pay for it, as it uses the X5 platform.
But the trend is not yet gone and, as the Daimler CEO, Dieter Zetsche, stated, there is still a long way to the end. Exactly for this reason, Mercedes hotfooted to greenlight green-light the SUV coupe project, authorized in the summer of 2011. Mercedes had to wait for the facelift of the ML converted into the GLE, according to the new naming strategy for the launch of the GLE Coupe.
Gauge-wise, the GLE Coupe and the BMW X6 are similar, but their presence on the road conveys completely different impressions. The GLE Coupe is a genuine Tyranosaurus Rex, as it is more spectacular due to its imposing grille, to the curved engine hood and to the gigantic 21-inch wheels of the test car (even 22-inch wheels can be ordered). At the presentation of the concept in April 2014, it was hard to believe that the 2003 millimeter height will be kept on, for the production model, but here it is, carried over unchanged.
Always when the competition retrospects an original item, there comes the ambition of making the new model even better. The main issue of the X6 is the rear space, especially the headroom. How Mercedes solved the problem is obvious in the picture below.
In the BMW, the boot lid, the rear glass and the roof build up an almost continuous line, as the rear glass is flattened out like that of a classic coupe. Instead, in the GLE, the rear glass casts a larger angle with the horizontal line, as it is less flat. Therefore, the rear interior height in the Mercedes is of 94 cm, compared to the only 89 cm in the BMW, and these 5 cm are those that make the difference, as the Mercedes provides more rear headroom. And the position of the rear bench is more comfortable in the Mercedes, as the angle of the cushion and the backrest is less acute, the rear bench is mounted higher up and the passengers do not need to keep knees up in the air. By tilting the rear seats, there shall not be a flat area in the BMW like in the Mercedes, as this is made possible by lifting the cushion before leaning the backrest. The BMW offers instead a split rear bench by 40/20/40%, apart from the 40/60% in the Mercedes. Both models come with an electrical operated tailgate as standard. The Mercedes GLE Coupe provides a 100-liter bigger boot in the standard guise and by 195 liter more spacious with the tilted rear seats. But in the Mercedes, the loading lip is pretty high, as it is 93 cm away from the ground, 9 cm more than in the BMW.
On the inside, both models have their very own philosophy. BMW is promoting a high-tech spirit with a button start, digital dashboard indicators (as an option), the famous futuristic gear stick in the center console, while the Mercedes preserves the time-honored characteristics with the gear stick on the right, behind the steering wheel, the controls for the electrical adjustment of the seats in the door panels and a classical ignition key. The 4-program adaptive drivetrain is new in the Mercedes (Individual, Sport, Slippery and Comfort) together with the 8-inch display). The BMW also offers an adaptive drivetrain with similar settings.
Both models come with a classical suspension. Mercedes offers the airmatic suspension as an option (2,035 euro) and the Active Curve System (active anti-roll bars, not offered in the GLE 350 d, nor in the GLE 400, an option for the GLE 450 AMG 3,748.50 euros and standardly fit in the GLE 63 AMG Coupe). The BMW X6 comes with three alternatives for the drivetrain: a Comfort one with an airmatic suspension in the rear axle (1,800 euro), a Dynamic one with active anti-roll bars (3,300 euro) and a Professional one, combining the first two versions (5,100 euro). On top of these, there is also the option for an active steering (1,150 euro).
The tested BMW X6 came with an adaptive Comfort suspension and with the 313 HP 40d engine, while the Mercedes GLE was fitted with the only diesel on offer: the 258 HP 350 d combined with the interior (2,023 euro) and exterior (2,499 euro) AMG package.
The standard seats in the BMW shall not guarantee the same side support like the sporty AMG ones of the AMG interior package (2,023 euro), and electrical adjusting comes for extra money (1,160 euro), as do the sports seats (490 euro). In the BMW, the drivig position is somewhat lower, while one seats 5 centimeters higher in the Mercedes.
In the Comfort mode, the airmatic suspension of the Mercedes gives more comfort than that of the BMW, which feels pretty firm, especially along the roads with dented asphalt. Mercedes’ worth goes even higher up as the test car had the AMG package fitted on and gigantic wheels shod with low profile tyres of 275/45 R21 at the front and 315/40 R 21 fitted at the rear. But there is something else surprising. The steering of the GLE is sharper, it guarantees a better feedback and is a little weightier than that of the BMW, which is a bit too light for our taste and for the traditional BMW sporty spirit. Thanks to the swifter steering, the Mercedes gives a lighter sensation in driving, but it is just an impression, as both models are very agile for their gauge. The BMW comes with a slight advantage thanks to its 70 kilogram underweight.
But when you go overboard in bends, both models show their limitations. We are talking about 2.2-ton mastodonts with a high gravity center. In edgy bends, you can feel the inertia of the big weight and the important centrifugal forces.
The BMW would theoretically benefit from an engine advantage thanks to its extra 56 HP. It accelerates from a standstill to 100 km/h by 1.2 seconds faster and reaches a 14 km/h higher top speed. With a twin-turbo engine, the BMW comes with a convenience in low revs, when the small turbine goes faster into friction. But virtually, this is not obvious for two reasons. The one turbine engine of the Mercedes provides almost the exact same torque as that of the BMW – 620 Nm up against the 630 Nm of the BMW – and is maintained almost at the same rev level – 1,600 rpm compared to the 1,500 rpm in the BMW. All in all, the horsepower lead is sensed in swift throttles, but not in the usual revs, when both engines provide plenty of comfort in driving.
But despite the twin turbos, the Mercedes has 0.7 l/100 km bigger consumption figures, as the difference is slightly emphasized in reality: 10.8 l/100 km in the BMW compared with the 11.8 l/100 km of the Mercedes, also thanks to the monstrous wheels.
We tested the GLE 350 d and X6 xDrive 40d versions, between which there is a 5,000 euro price gap. And the BMW comes also with an exactly 258 HP version named xDrive 30d for a lower price than the Mercedes: 65,900 euros compared to the 66,699.50 euros for the Mercedes. But even if we should compare the power counterparts, Mercedes comes on top, offering a better standard equipment. The adaptive intelligent LED headlights, the rear camera which is a must considering the tall rear and the rear poor visibility both models provide, and the electrical heated seats with basic electric settings are standardly fit in the Mercedes, while they come with a price in the BMW. This leads to giving Mercedes a 4,000 euro price lead. The BMW comes with genuine leather upholstery as standard, while the Mercedes comes with leather cloth upholstery as standard, as the genuine one is included in the options list.
Foto: Ovidiu Tabacaru
VerdictThere is no doubt that the original BMW X6 was a pathfinder that magnetized many customers thanks to this appealing SUV Coupe concept. But Mercedes took their time in rightsizing this concept and managed to hammer out a more spacious, more comfortable car, with a better steering, all offered for a better price considering the thorough standard equipment.
|Model||X6 xDrive 40d||GLE Coupe 350 d|
|Engine type/no. of cylinders||L6, turbodiesel||V6, turbodiesel|
|Max. torque/revs (Nm/rpm)||630/1,500-2,500||620/1,600|
|Gearbox type||automatic, 8 gears||automatic, 9 gears|
|Tires type||Goodyear Eagle F1||Pirelli P Zero|
|Tires dimensions||255/50 R19||275/45 R21 107Y- 315/40 R21 111Y|
|Brakes front/rear||ventilated discs/discs||ventilated discs/discs|
|Turning circle (m)||12.80||11.80|
|Ground clearance (mm)||21||n.a.|
|Kerb weight/load (kg)||2,180/715||2,250/650|
|Boot capacity (l)||550-1,525||650-1,720|
|Acceleration 0-100 km/h (s)||5.8||7,0|
|Top speed (km/h)||240||226|
|Fuel consumption urban/extr./mixt (l/100 km)||7.0/5.7/6.2||7.5/6.4/6.9|
|Fuel tank (l)||85||93|
|CO2 emissions (g/km)||EU6/163||EU6/180|
|Price (euro with VAT; GER)||72,100||66,699.50|