Mercedes' answer to the BMW X6 will go on sale in June, and combines rakish styling with the promise of sporty driving dynamics
11 January 2015

Mercedes-Benz has created a full-blown rival to the BMW X6 with its new GLE coupé model, and the model is on display for the first time at the Detroit motor show.

The GLE coupé is based on what was known as the ML, which has been renamed GLE and is due for a facelift in early 2015. It joins a fast-expanding range of Mercedes SUVs in the UK, a line-up that will include the C-class-based GLC by the end of 2015.

The GLE coupé is due to go on sale in the UK in June, priced at about £10,000 more than equivalent GLE models. 

The GLE coupé also ushers in the new range of ‘AMG sports’ models for Mercedes. These cars are in a similar vein to the way that BMW differentiates its more accessible M Performance models from full-blown M cars.

Mercedes claims to have fused an SUV with a coupé for this new model and is hoping to attract younger buyers as a result.

The GLE is the base, but it has been re-engineered for a more focused and sportier drive. The suspension geometry has been changed, the driving modes remapped and the gear ratios tweaked for the standard-fit nine-speed automatic gearbox.

The range has one diesel and two petrol models. The nine-speed auto is the sole transmission and permanent all-wheel drive is fitted to each of the three models. 

The flagship model is the GLE450 AMG coupé, the first model in the AMG sports range that will be rolled out across the rest of Mercedes’ line-up.

Powering this model will be a biturbo 3.0-litre V6 petrol engine with 362bhp and 383lb ft of torque. A version of this engine is offered in the GLE400 coupé with outputs of 328bhp and 354lb ft.

The only diesel model is the GLE350d coupé. This gets a 3.0-litre V6 turbodiesel with 254bhp and 457lb ft. Mercedes has yet to confirm performance or economy figures for any of the models.

In the non-AMG models, torque is split 50/50 between the front and rear axles, but the AMG version has a rear-biased 40/60 split. 

The GLE coupé is 4900mm long, 2003mm wide and 1731mm tall, with a wheelbase of 2915mm. For comparison, the X6 is 4909mm long, 1989mm wide and 1702mm tall, with a wheelbase of 2933mm.

A notable feature of the GLE coupé is its Dynamic Select driving mode control system. This includes five selectable driving modes — Individual, Comfort, Slippery, Sport and Sport+ — that tweak ‘hard’ features such as chassis, powertrain, suspension and steering systems, as well as ‘soft’ functions such as engine sound and the activeness of the front LED headlights.

In the hardest Sport+ setting, there’s a double-declutch function for the transmission when downshifting.

One option is the newly designed Airmatic air suspension system, which works with a new ADS Plus adaptive damping set-up. A coil spring suspension set-up is offered as standard.

Alloy wheels of 20in in diameter are standard on the GLE Coupe with up to 22in alloys optional on the GLE 450 AMG. LED front headlights are also standard.

The interior includes Mercedes’ latest COMAND infotainment system. Sports seats are standard. The AMG Sport model gets leather seats and carbonfibre trim among a series of sporting modifications. 

A whole host of safety equipment is also on the options list. This includes an autonomous pre-braking system, a 360-degree parking camera, a lane departure warning system, a night-vision camera, and heated windscreen wipers. 

A full-blown AMG version, the GLE 63 AMG, is also planned, complete with a twin-turbo 5.5-litre V8 with more than 518bhp. 

Q&A with Axel Heix, product manager for Mercedes SUVs

What’s the theory behind this car and who’s going to buy it?

It’s something completely new. We combined the ideas of an SUV with a Mercedes-Benz coupé. Younger people are going to buy it, especially in China, who want to make a statement. It will appeal all over the world, though.

What will it be like to drive?

A sporty car. We’ve added a lot of engineering, with special gear ratios, suspension parts, and a drive selection mode to access more sporty settings. Then there are things like the 9G-Tronic gearbox and 4Matic all-wheel drive.

We’re seeing a lot more sporty SUVs like this. Why is that? 

They are all over the market. It’s because people like individualism, and this will rise more and more. The combination of dynamic performance with an exclusive, elegant exterior; it’s a very good combination.

Did you turn an SUV into a coupé or a coupé into an SUV?

The starting point was really from both sides and to try to combine these worlds together. It’s not just one or the other; it is both combined. 

How inspired were you by the success of the BMW X6?

That car went more for driving dynamics. Our car is more Mercedes-Benz coupé. It’s not just another hat on top of the GLE. It’s the style, inside and out, that makes it what it is. It’s a really different kind of car from even the GLE. The GLE is all about practicality and roominess. This coupé is the stylish car.

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Our Verdict

BMW X6
The BMW X6 has challenging looks but impressive dynamics. It is good value too

The BMW X6 is a hard riding but generally accomplished big soft-roader. Just make sure you can live with the looks

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Comments
36

289

9 December 2014

.....just terrible.
Wherefore art though Mercedes-Benz?

10 December 2014

What an absolute Monstrosity. No doubt Man Utd's carpark will be full of them soon.....Just fkn horrible

3

10 December 2014

As in sharp intake of breath and wondering which would win the title of world's fugliest vehicle - this or the BMW X6.

10 December 2014

The Scrabble-like reshuffling of the model names is confusing and frankly contemptible. Dyslexic Mercedes fans have my sympathies.

10 December 2014
Norma Smellons wrote:

The Scrabble-like reshuffling of the model names is confusing and frankly contemptible. Dyslexic Mercedes fans have my sympathies.

Err... the new names are a lot more understandable than the old.

10 December 2014

Do any of these SUV things have more seating or storage space than their saloon counterparts?

10 December 2014

The BMW X6 (and Z4) are the only BMWs I like... I don't mind this Mercedes, it's certainly no more ridiculous that an "off-road" Audi TT, but it does remind me of a fat Vauxhall Insignia from some angles. I'd certainly choose this or a used X6 over the Jaguar (not a) SUV featured here the other day. That car wouldn't have looked out of place in Mazdas range.

10 December 2014

Another awful looking Mercedes. Buying a Mercedes once meant you were purchasing a car with thorough engineering with almost no compromise, rock solid quality and restrained elegance, a car that everyone knew was a cut above the rest and that you really were buying an expensive feeling, expensive looking and prestigious car with total desirability. Buying a S Class for example was on a par with buying a Rolls Royce. That's certainly not the case anymore and hasn't been for ages. Mercedes lost their way with exacting engineering, quality and build standards 20 years ago with the first A Class while they totally lost their way with styling since the last S- Class was launched in 2005 which then led to a succession of dull or awful looking models. And this GLE Coupe is no exception. And if other Mercedes are anything to go by nowadays, the interior will be cheap and nasty, it will be unreliable and it won't drive or ride particularly well either and its engines will be substandard. Mercedes are now merely average, cheap feeling, cheaply built mainstream cars with so sense of prestige or desirability but with a premium price. Frankly, anyone who buys a Mercedes knows nothing about cars and has too much money over common sense. I'd pick a superior Ford Focus over a A Class, Jaguar XE over a E Class or a Lexus LS over a S Class any day of the week. And the same would be with the GLE, I'd plump straight for a superior Range Rover Sport or Discovery.

289

10 December 2014

......are you saucerer masquerading as A46 perchance??!!

It is a truly awful looking Mercedes-Benz though as you say, though you are wrong about drive and build quality...you are about 10 years out of date. They drive beautifully and the build quality is back up where it should be.

10 December 2014
A46 wrote:

Another awful looking Mercedes. Buying a Mercedes once meant you were purchasing a car with thorough engineering with almost no compromise, rock solid quality and restrained elegance, a car that everyone knew was a cut above the rest and that you really were buying an expensive feeling, expensive looking and prestigious car with total desirability. Buying a S Class for example was on a par with buying a Rolls Royce. That's certainly not the case anymore and hasn't been for ages. Mercedes lost their way with exacting engineering, quality and build standards 20 years ago with the first A Class while they totally lost their way with styling since the last S- Class was launched in 2005 which then led to a succession of dull or awful looking models. And this GLE Coupe is no exception. And if other Mercedes are anything to go by nowadays, the interior will be cheap and nasty, it will be unreliable and it won't drive or ride particularly well either and its engines will be substandard. Mercedes are now merely average, cheap feeling, cheaply built mainstream cars with so sense of prestige or desirability but with a premium price. Frankly, anyone who buys a Mercedes knows nothing about cars and has too much money over common sense. I'd pick a superior Ford Focus over a A Class, Jaguar XE over a E Class or a Lexus LS over a S Class any day of the week. And the same would be with the GLE, I'd plump straight for a superior Range Rover Sport or Discovery.

Are you kidding... Build quality of recent Mercedes offereings are second to none.. the new C and S is amazing inside quality and design wise as lauded by most motoring journo's. A lexus is no where near dynamiclaly, design or perfromance wise to a mercedes S-class. let alone a jag XE ( i think you menat XF) being better than e-class ( especially interior build qulity wise.. most current jags have nasty plastic interiors with ageing tech!

really beginning to hate the brigade that makes up BS to justify why they dont like a brand... even though test and reviews show the opposite...

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