What is it?
It will be interesting to watch whether that slightly odd, oversized automotive crossbreed, the full-size SUV-slash-coupe, survives the transition from internal combustion to full electric power that all luxury cars are supposedly set to undergo over the next decade or so.
You might reasonably assume that any supposedly elegant and exclusive premium vehicle that could be replaced by something lighter, lower-of-profile and better-suited to eking out range from a battery pack, necessarily will be. If going electric across the board does mean pressing the reset button on whole showroom model ranges, who’ll shed a tear for the likes of the Mercedes GLE Coupe, you might wonder?
Well, luxury car-buyers just might. Much to the puzzlement of plenty of industry commentators, those buyers do seem to like big, curvy-roofed SUVs like this. Moreover, if it takes a lot of batteries to make a car this size work as an EV - and, lordy, it will - there should certainly be plenty of space in which to hide them away.
The GLE Coupe has just made it onto UK roads in second-generation form, and buyers can already buy an ‘electrified’ version of the car if they want to. The diesel-electric GLE 350de hybrid is the headline new addition to the car’s powertrain range. It’s at once the cheapest, most company car tax-efficient and potentially the most fuel-efficient version of the car going, depending on how you use it. Thanks to a drive battery of more than 30kWh, it’s also got a 60-odd-mile claimed electric range, which might just be enough to win over certain critics of the plug-in hybrids all by itself.
And for those who don’t think the ‘PHEV’ will be the GLE Coupe to have, there’s this: the six-cylinder diesel GLE 400d. It’s the only other non-AMG-branded derivative available, and it comes in one mechanical specification and in one trim level. UK buyers can choose what colour paint they want, and towing preparation is a no-cost option; that’s it. From wheel design to interior trim to equipment count, the car you see in these photos is the one you’ll get.
Which also means, of course, that you get a lot of standard equipment. This GLE is a little bit pricier than its rivals from BMW, Audi and Land Rover, but it comes with air suspension, 360-degree parking cameras, heated and ventilated front seats, a big head-up display, and with just about every driver assistance system going. It also gets Mercedes’ top-level ‘MBUX’ infotainment system with its wireless smartphone charging and ‘augmented reality’ navigation, and a Burmester premium stereo. For those who like a fully-loaded luxury car, that should do very nicely.