A standard nine-speed automatic gearbox feels smoother and more intuitive than the older seven-speed unit used in the GLE400 Coupe; it provides quick, decisive shifts up and down the 'box. The engine requires so few revs at 80mph that you can barely hear it over the constant rustle of wind around the sizeable mirror housings.
It may tip the scales at a hefty 2185kg, but the GLE350d Coupe handles with great panache when hurried along on winding back roads. There is moderate body lean, even in the firmest of the three settings offered by its conventional front steel springs and optional rear air springs setup, as used by our test car. However, the car's overall agility is quite impressive for something so big.
Decent levels of grip provided by a four-wheel drive system enhanced with a torque vectoring function let you maintain good pace through corners with confidence. It's good fun exploring the car's potential, although it takes a good deal of commitment to experience the understeer that eventually emerges.
The ride, in the softest damper setting, is excellent both around town and out on the open road. The overall control of the suspension over high-frequency bumps at lower speeds is very impressive, as is the car's ability to settle quickly on undulating sections of road.
Road noise is also well suppressed; at least, that’s the impression we got on the smooth surfaced roads in Germany. We’ll have to wait to see how it handles the coarser surfaces in the UK.
The GLE Coupe gets standard steel spring suspension, although Mercedes expect the majority of customers will choose the optional Airmatic air suspension, which uses air springs and new ADS Plus adaptive damping system with an additional valve over the system used in the GLE until now.
A further notable feature is the standard Dynamic Select driving mode control system. It provides the driver with selectable driving modes; in the case of the GLE350d Coupe, Individual, Comfort, Sport and Slippery. Other models also get a Sport Plus mode that brings a double de-clutch function on the gearbox during downshifts.
You step up higher into the GLE Coupe than you do in the regular GLE, due to an additional 12mm of ride height brought on by its larger wheels. When you settle into the broad driver’s seat, you quickly discover one fundamental downside to the swoopy exterior styling, namely limited rearward vision because of the extreme angle of the rear window. This immediately makes it clear why Mercedes has decided to provide its latest model with a rear camera as standard.
Cost considerations mean the interior is largely shared with the newly facelifted GLE. The familiar-looking dashboard is a relatively busy affair, with a free-standing monitor set high and varying controls adorning the centre section.
The latest generation of Mercedes' Comand infotainment system is mounted between the front seats along with the controls to alter the aforementioned driving modes.