FIRST TEST. Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe driven by Car

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Our colleagues from Car magazine have already got behind the wheel of Mercedes’ shiny new GLE Coupe in no less than 450 AMG guise. What did they think of the sporty SUV? Read on to find out.

The GLE450 AMG was the first Mercedes to introduce this ‘AMG Sport’ idea. And the visual differentiation between the new model and its regular GLE sibling confirms these sporty ambitions. Indeed, your casual observer is unlikely to make any obvious connection between the GLE Coupe and the regular GLE. The simplest way of summing up the former’s styling is that the appearance of a CLA that’s been turned into a monster truck. Mind you, a monster which is also longer, wider and lower than the regular GLE and offers a massive boot – at 650-1720 litres.

Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupé, GLE 450 AMG 4MATIC, interior 2

The cabin impresses with its stellar quality approach. That said, the dashboard still seems like a slight disappointment. The flat black plastic houses the major secondary controls looks cheap, even if it doesn’t feel it; the rotary switches seem a little flimsy for a car with a £60k+ price tag; and that tablet-style infotainment screen looks no more premium in here than in does in the A-class – perhaps it’s the not-quite-chrome surround.

The Dynamic Select controller modulates the steering weight, suspension and throttle response. Pick from conventionally labelled Sport and Sport+ programmes, or a pictogram for Slippery and a weirdly truncated ‘Indiv.’ and ‘Comf.’ for Individual and Comfort. Surely there was a better solution?

So how does it drive? Despite a plethora of sexy-sounding components – nine-speed automatic gearbox, 40:60-split 4Matic four-wheel drive, adaptive air suspension, active anti-roll technology, not to mention the AMG-fettled 362bhp 3.0-litre bi-turbo V6 – at 2220kg the GLE 450 AMG is a particularly heavy car, and you remain conscious of its bulk every single moment that you’re driving it. It dives under braking, rears up under hard acceleration, and pitches around in the corners – something the sportier Dynamic Select chassis settings only partially resolve. None of this is excessive to the point of being out of hand, but compared to what the Porsche Cayenne and BMW X6 are capable of, the GLE450 feels decidedly out-classed. The gearbox could do with being more decisive as well, both under automatic and manual control.

Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupé (2014)

On the plus side, there’s plenty of ride compliance – especially given the size of the wheels – and the engine makes all sorts of hilarious noises in the Sport+ setting.