If you’re not a fan of niche-straddling 4×4 coupes, best look away now. This is the Mercedes GLE Coupe, a mash-up of fastback coupe lines and upright SUV architecture.
Clearly lining BMW’s X6 squarely in its sights, it lands in the UK in spring 2015.
GLE? That’s a new name on me…
As Mercedes shakes up its naming system, GLE is the new name for the ML-class 4×4.
This car, the coupe version, surfaces first, with the more conventionally shaped regular GLE model following later in 2015. Under the new metalwork the car’s still based on the current-generation ML architecture, so the non-coupe GLE will be an ML facelift and name-change in one.
Mercedes GLE Coupe: design
There’s no missing the GLE Coupe, that’s for sure. It’s probably the most literal take on the SUV coupe brief yet, with a fast-curved roofline mixed with surprisingly high ground clearance and enormous wheels – 20-inch rims are standard but buyers can supersize to 22s as an option.
The overall effect looks akin to a CLA on stilts. Styling at the rear takes its cues from the S-class Coupe with the reg plate bumped downwards to the rear bumper, a rounded rear window shape and a widescreen chrome insert across the tail linking the slim tail-lights.
That lofty ground clearance suggests the GLE Coupe might be able to actually go off-road if forced to. We’d wager most owners probably wouldn’t want to get the shiny ‘simulated underguards’ dirty, though.
Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe: model line-up
There will be three models from launch, all of them four-wheel-drive and with Mercedes’ new 9G-Tronic nine-speed automatic gearbox.
The three initial Mercedes GLE Coupe models are as follows:
GLE 350d – 3.0-litre V6 diesel, 255bhp, 457 lb ft
GLE 400 – 3.0-litre V6 biturbo petrol, 329bhp, 354 lb ft
GLE 450 AMG – 3.0-litre V6 biturbo petrol, 362bhp, 384 lb ft
Topping the range is the GLE 450 AMG, not quite a full-fat AMG model but the first car in the new semi-sporty AMG Sport model line (explained in more detail here).
Its beefed-up styling makes it easy to tell apart from the rest of the range, with meaner-looking front and rear bumpers, a flick-up spoiler lip on the boot and 21-inch AMG five-spoke alloys with enormous low-profile tyres (a faintly ridiculous 315/40 fitting at the rear).
As well as looking like it spends more time in the gym than the regular GLE Coupe, the AMG Sport should drive more keenly with torque split 40:60 front to rear rather than the regular cars’ 50:50 set-up. It rides on air suspension with continuously variable dampers that constantly compensate for body roll and uneven surfaces.
Non-AMG models will ride on steel suspension as standard, with the air set-up an option. This being a thoroughly modern Merc, there will be a Dynamic Select driving mode system with the usual gamut of settings for the transmission, steering, traction control system and even engine noise to scroll through.
What equipment do you get for your money with the Mercedes GLE Coupe?
The interior looks suitably deluxe with swathes of artificial leather, a high-end stereo system and Mercedes’ latest touchpad controller for the multimedia system.
AMG Sports models get the usual heavy-bolstered sports seats and a smaller, sportier looking steering wheel along with extra bits of carbonfibre and aluminium trim.
Elsewhere on the standard kit list for all models is a powered tailgate, reversing camera and an automatic emergency braking system.
Despite the squashed roofline the GLE Coupe may even be reasonably practical, with a wide rear seat bench and a relatively big boot.
UK prices and specs will be confirmed closer to the car’s launch in 2015. Expect prices to stretch between £60,000-£65,000 for top trim versions.