Mercedes’ range is set to grow further in the New Year with the introduction of the GLE Coupe.
Mercedes calls it a sporty coupe imbued with the striking characteristics of a robust SUV. More realistically, it’s a GLE – the firm’s new name for the M-class – with an in-vogue sloping roofline, as BMW’s X6 is to the X5.
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The new car will be a rival for the X6, as well as cars like the Porsche Cayenne and Range Rover Sport. As such, the GLE Coupe gets a range of petrol and diesel engines with outputs between 258 PS and 367 PS, and driving systems geared towards a sportier feel than the regular GLE.
The GLE Coupe’s styling may take a little while to get used to, unless you’re already a fan of the X6 and its ilk. The front is pure M-class (sorry, GLE), yet towards the rear the five-door body tapers, not unlike that of Mercedes’ recent coupes. From the rear, there’s more than a hint of the new Mercedes-AMG GT and the S-class coupe, particularly around the rear lights.
Inside, the GLE Coupe features dashboard architecture more like that of the firm’s off-road vehicles than those of the coupes its roofline apes. A compact ‘sports’ steering wheel, infotainment similar to that of the C, E and S-class and sports seats should still create a driving environment more like that of a coupe than a tall-riding SUV.
At launch, the entry-level GLE 350 d comes with a 3-litre turbocharged V6 diesel engine, producing 258 PS and 620 Nm of torque.
Above this sit the GLE 400, with its twin-turbocharged V6 petrol unit, and a more powerful GLE 450 AMG providing a full 367 PS and 520 Nm, developed from 1400rpm. Full performance details are yet to be released, but all engines meet the latest EU6 emissions standards.
All models are equipped with the latest 9G-Tronic nine-speed automatic transmission, and 4Matic all-wheel drive is also standard across the range. Notably, the AMG-fettled model features a different torque split to the other pair, with 60 percent of the car’s torque fed to the rear wheels in place of a 50:50 split. The AMG also rides on 21in wheels, to the standard car’s 20in rims.
Central to the GLE Coupe’s dynamics is Dynamic Select, Mercedes’ dynamic handling control system. This changes the characteristics of the car’s Sports Direct-Steer system, Airmatic air suspension and the Active Curve System (first seen on the S63 AMG Coupe) to alter dynamics and ride comfort according to the driver’s tastes.
Active Curve System in particular should give Mercedes’ rivals something to think about. Designed to tip the car into corners to counteract the effects of body roll, its effect on the tall GLE Coupe should be even more pronounced than it is on the S63 AMG Coupe.
Regardless of how the new GLE Coupe handles, it’s sure to sell like hot bratwurst, just as its rivals have managed despite gnashing of enthusiasts' teeth. Pricing is yet to be announced, but should be revealed closer to the GLE Coupe’s launch next year.