Currently reading: Mercedes-Benz GLE coupé on display at Detroit motor show
Mercedes' answer to the BMW X6 will go on sale in June, and combines rakish styling with the promise of sporty driving dynamics

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 Mercedes-Benz 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.


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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.

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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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Mark Tisshaw

Title: Editor

Mark is a journalist with more than a decade of top-level experience in the automotive industry. He first joined Autocar in 2009, having previously worked in local newspapers. He has held several roles at Autocar, including news editor, deputy editor, digital editor and his current position of editor, one he has held since 2017.

From this position he oversees all of Autocar’s content across the print magazine, website, social media, video, and podcast channels, as well as our recent launch, Autocar Business. Mark regularly interviews the very top global executives in the automotive industry, telling their stories and holding them to account, meeting them at shows and events around the world.

Mark is a Car of the Year juror, a prestigious annual award that Autocar is one of the main sponsors of. He has made media appearances on the likes of the BBC, and contributed to titles including What Car?Move Electric and Pistonheads, and has written a column for The Sun.

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nsx 13 December 2014

What has happened to the art of car design?

This design doesn't work from a single angle. I'm sure it ticks all the marketing boxes, but where is the the form, the aesthetic, the proportions? A lost art at Mercedes these days.
Dark Isle 10 December 2014

Such A Change

I think what's particularly galling is the complete about-face Mercedes-Benz has done in the last few years. As a child I loved the strong, restrained lines of the W140 S-Class or the hewn-from-stone look of the W124 E-Class while the W202 C-Class looked and felt more expensive than all of its rivals despite being poorly equipped. I was only young but I still appreciated the beautifully simple design. I even liked the curvier generations that followed; they maintained a bit of that typical Mercedes-Benz solidity in the design. But then quality took a massive tumble and the look was tarnished. The latest designs are simply ungainly with too many contrasting angles, bulbous proportions and ugly features. While this may appeal to people in the short-term (hence the good sales in rich countries) the brand loyalty has been damaged somewhat. Time will tell if the new customers will stick around for years to come, but I've not got my hopes up.
Cheltenhamshire 10 December 2014

I thought nothing could be as

I thought nothing could be as crash, revolting and an utter waste of metal as an X6. Typical Mercedes, always trying to go one better! Well done, your Muppet mobile is even more disgusting! Worst car made in the last decade.