Today is not a good day to be a BMW X6. After years of solitude in the self-built segment, there’s now an intruder and it looks like it means business. The SUV Coupe market just got a lot more interesting with the launch of the Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe.
It does look a bit Jekyll and Hyde, doesn’t it? I mean, it’s a big, massive car but with the lines of a flowing coupe. It follows the same recipe of the BMW X6 but the GLE Coupe is somehow able to take the coupe mantle a few steps further. It’s not just the dropped roofline that separates it from a plain SUV: it looks more like a coupe on high heels than an SUV with a back problem.
The front end is unmistakably Mercedes-Benz while the rear does a very good impression of the new S-Class Coupe which, as we’ve all agreed, looks fantastic. It’s not out of place on the GLE Coupe either, wrapping up a very exquisite design in high fashion.
I hear you ask about the engines, so I have no option but to oblige. Being a special kind of car, it’s hard to predict which powertrain will sell the best but I’m willing to bet that the diesel will still top the charts in Europe, while the AMG will be king in the US. So, starting with the least powerful, the GLE Coupe will be launched with only one diesel option, the GLE 350 BlueTec 4MATIC with 258 hp and 620 Nm; second is the petrol GLE 400 4MATIC pumping out 333 hp and 480 Nm; for now, the top of the range will be the 367 hp 520 Nm GLE 450 AMG.
In order to reflect the dual personality of the outside appearance of the car, the GLE Coupe comes standard for all versions with the DYNAMIC SELECT dynamic handling control system. This enables the driver to choose from a sporty experience with direct steering and harder suspension, or a comfortable and quiet ride all with the turn of a rotary device on the centre console.
The driver can choose from five different programs: Individual, Comfort, Slippery, Sport and Sport+. DYNAMIC SELECT not only adjusts the suspension settings, steering and powertrain, but acts also on an emotional level because it modifies the engine sound, the instruments or the dynamic control of the driving lights. The graphic of the various displays on the COMAND screen and in the cockpit changes according to the selected transmission mode.
The GLE Coupe comes standard with the new 9G-TRONIC nine speed automatic transmission and 4MATIC permanent all-wheel drive system. The gearbox meshes perfectly on the program chosen by the DYNAMIC SELECT, offering either frighteningly fast gear changes, or a smooth, seamless transition for perfectly relaxed driving. Likewise, the 4MATIC system has a double role: its there to provide safety in hazardous situations as well as offer optimal handling for sporty driving.
In the GLE 350 d and GLE 400 models, the 4MATIC system features a rigid torque distribution of 50:50% between the front and rear axles, which is different from the 4MATIC settings in GLE 450 AMG. In GLE 450 AMG Coupe, the configuration is modified for greater agility and the split is 40:60% front to rear.
The stability of the new GLE 450 AMG sport Coupe is also helped by the new AIRMATIC air suspension, available for the first time with the continuously variable damping system ADS Plus.
When the driver selects Sport or Sport+, he activates the Active Curve System with active roll stabilization. This is a system also used by BMW X5 and Porsche Cayenne. In combination with the Sports Direct-Steer system whose steering ratio is very direct at 17,4:1, Mercedes promises an outstanding handling.
GLE 350 d 4MATIC and GLE 400 4MATIC come standard with Agility Control suspension, meanwhile AIRMATIC suspension with ADS Plus is optional.
GLE 350 d 4MATIC and GLE 400 4MATIC are available with 20 inch 10 spoke design light alloy wheels with 275/50 R 20 tyres. 21 inch or 22 inch light alloy wheels are available as an option, the latter ones only in conjunction with AIRMATIC ADS Plus suspension. GLE 450 AMG includes a special AMG bodystyling (specific front and rear apron, a rear spoiler lip, 21 inch 5 twin spoke light alloy wheels with 275/45 R 21 tyres in front and 315/40 R21 tyres at rear.
At the interior, GLE Coupe takes over the infotainment system from the C and S-Class, but there are some differences. Mercedes reacted after many criticized the aspect of the freestanding display, saying that it looks as if it were integrated aftermarket.
In the new GLE Coupe, the 8 inch display of the COMAND system is not entirely free standing but partially integrated into the instrument panel. The centre console houses the COMAND controller with the touchpad fitted above in an ergonomic position. The sports seats and the compact sports steering wheel is a perfect fit for the character of the car.
Mercedes insists that GLE Coupe is more practical than the BMW X6 and claims that the backseats are the widest in its class and so is the luggage compartment, with 1,650 litres. For the first time in this segment, Mercedes offers a fully electric extendable and retractable trailer coupling which includes ESP trailer stabilization. The towing capacity of the GLE Coupe is up to 3,500 kg (with brakes).
Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe will be presented officially at Detroit Autoshow in January 2015 and will start in Europe in July 2015.
|Model||GLE 350 d 4Matic||GLE 400 4Matic||GLE 450 AMG 4Matic|
|Engine||V6, turbodiesel||V6, bi-turbo||V6, bi-turbo|
|Max. output/revs (HP/rpm)||258/3,600||333/5,500||367/5,500|
|Max torque/revs (Nm/rpm)||620/1,600-2,400||480/1,400-4,000||520/1,400-4,000|
|Transmission||aut, 9 speed||aut, 9 speed||aut, 9 speed|
|Traction||4wd, 50:50%||4wd, 50:50%||4wd, 40:60%|