Anybody who thinks the new Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe is a GLE just with a slicked-up body stuck on can think again. This is a different beast altogether, molding the best of two segments, coupe with a sports utility vehicle.
Having driven both models within 24 hours of each other I can attest to this. Three variants have been pencilled in for Australia. They are the GLE 350d 4Matic Coupe, selling for $121,900, plus on-road costs; the GLE 450 AMG 4Matic at $141,900 and the AMG GLE 63 S 4Matic for $198,900.
Already with a series of successful coupes to the Mercedes name, the GLE Coupe joins the classic two-door C, E and S-Class models and the four-door CLS and CLA-Class coupés. From the simplified, yet robust radiator grille, flanked by unique lighting set-up to sleek profile and twin five-spoke 21 or 22-inch wheels the GLE Coupe range stands alone from its SUV stablemate.
The company says, with room for up to five occupants, it combines typical coupe attributes, such as sportiness, dynamism and agility with the confident presence, versatility and robustness of a typical sports utility vehicle.
Added to this are the fine touches of luxury that continue to set the Benz apart but also unexpected bonuses such as the widest rear seat bench and the largest luggage space – 1650 litres – in its class. For the first time in this segment, Mercedes-Benz is also offering a fully electric extendable and retractable trailer coupling, which also features a trailer stabilisation electronic stability program.
At the foot of the range is the six-cylinder turbo-diesel engine powered GLE 350d 4Matic, which drives through a nine-speed automatic. Power output is 190 kW, while maximum torque of 620 Nm is on tap from a mere 1600 rpm.
For an entry-level model, standard equipment is exceptional, with AMG body styling, Dynamic Select transmission modes, 4Matic permanent all-wheel drive, Airmatic Air suspension, 21-inch AMG wheels, LED Intelligent Light System, Comand navigation, Easy-Pack automatic power tailgate, Harman Kardon Logic 7 14-speaker surround-sound system, Nappa leather upholstery and heated and electronically adjustable AMG Line sports front seats.
The first AMG sports model to arrive in the Australian market, the GLE 450 AMG 4Matic Coupé, presents an attractive introduction to the sports car world and Mercedes’ performance arm.
Making use of a six-cylinder bi-turbo petrol engine putting out 270 kW of power and 520 Nm of torque, the car races from zero to 100 km/h in 5.7 seconds. In addition to the standard equipment across the range, the GLE 450 AMG 4Matic Coupé also wears a panoramic sliding sunroof, AMG Line Nappa leather upholstery, 22-inch AMG Wheels, Active Curve System with anti-roll stabilisation and an Anti-Theft Protection package.
The top of the range Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S 4MATIC Coupé benefits from the Mercedes-AMG ‘One man, One Engine’ philosophy, the stonking 5.5-litre V8 motor being put together by a single highly-trained technician.
The result is that the GLE 63 S Coupé comes up with 430 kW and 760 Nm, which in conjunction with the AMG Speedshift Plus 7G-Tronic transmission, has the vehicle shooting from zero to 100 km/h in just 4.2 seconds.
A list of standard equipment includes AMG Driver’s Package, AMG Performance Exhaust, Air-Balance Package, digital TV tuner, luxury heated and ventilated multi-contour front seats in AMG Nappa leather.
Ground-breaking powertrain apart, the newly designed Airmatic air suspension – available for the first time with the continuously variable damping system ADS Plus – ensures exceptionally stable driving.
The damping system realigns itself depending on the driver’s preselected Dynamic Select mode. Operating conditions are monitored through a steering angle sensor, four turning angle sensors and driving speed from the ESP and brake pedal switch. The result is infinitely variable adjustment of damping for each wheel.
Comfort mode calls up characteristics of a classic Mercedes-Benz saloon with relaxed, effortless cruising. Sport has the GLE Coupe morphing into a vehicle with sporty dynamics.
The Dynamic Select Sport+ setting offers the driver added spice. Throttle response, gear-change strategy, ESP thresholds, steering power assist or the characteristic of the continuous damper adjustment exclusive to AMG: the system networks all the control systems, generating a wide variety of distinct driving experiences. All modes are displayed on the centrally positioned dashboard screen and are easy to operate via the Comand system knob.
The Active Curve System, with active roll stabilisation, is also part of the special sports systems that are activated when the driver selects Sport or Sport+. At the same time, the active anti-roll bars on the front and rear axles raise the comfort to saloon level and compensate for even heavy, one-sided instability such as when driving over potholes.
Thus, combined with the freshly configured Sports Direct-Steer system, seriously crumpled road conditions are easily ironed out.
Mercedes’ state-of-the-art safety is standard throughout the GLE Coupe range with nine airbags in position, Collision Prevention Assist Plus, Distronic Plus cruise control with Steering Assist and Stop & Go Pilot.
Matching the accelerating ability, stopping the coupe is of premium quality with Pre-Safe Brake and Pre-Safe Plus helping to put on the anchors.
Also coming to the aid of the driver are Crosswind Assist, Active Blind Spot Assist, Active Lane Keeping Assist, an Active Bonnet and an LED Intelligent Light System with Adaptive High Beam Assist Plus.
An introduction to the GLE Coupe on the media launch less than auspicious, with a bump on the bonce welcoming my entry to the driver’s seat, the result of the vehicles sleek, aerodynamic profile. A minor mishap, it did not happen again on repeated entries.
All was forgiven, with the GLE Coupe reprising the pleasure gained from its wagon counterpart a day earlier, especially in the rorty aural contribution of the Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S 4Matic.
AT A GLANCE
Mercedes-Benz GLE 350d 4MATIC Coupe: $121,900
Mercedes-Benz GLE 450 AMG 4MATIC Coupe: $141,900
Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S 4MATIC Coupe: $198,900
Note: These prices do not include dealer or government charges. Contact your local Mercedes-Benz dealer for drive-away prices.