The latest offering from the three-pointed star has just arrived, and the excitement surrounding the release is really quite something. It’s always interesting to see when a manufacturer brings out a car to specifically target another vehicle. Especially when that car has dominated the segment for some time. This was always going to be a big moment for the ongoing Mercedes-Benz vs BMW saga.
The new product labelled the GLE Coupe has just arrived at retailers, and it only takes a nano-second to realise Mercedes have got it very right with this new beast. The sheer size of the car runs at the forefront of your senses when you get near it for the first time. The Coupe and it’s SUV brother are typically huge, sitting on the same chassis as the E-Class. As you get closer though, things start to change. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still huge at close range. You’ll never escape that. But as you browse round to the side view the flowing coupe contours start to give the SUV a sense of speed and excitement. It looks as though its traveling at pace even at a standstill, which is exactly what you want from a coupe. If you know the Mercedes-Benz models, you’ll quickly notice nods of it’s styling to some of the more premium models in the range. The most noticeable being the rear tail light arrangement, which looks like it’s been taken straight from the S-Class coupe.
Diesel or Petrol?
The model I’ve got my hands on is the GLE350d 4MATIC Designo Line, with the brand new 9G-Tronic Plus gearbox and 3 litre V6 diesel engine. This is the base engine in the range, giving a totally capable 258hp and a huge 620Nm of torque. That’s the same amount of torque as the Mercedes-AMG C63…Have no fear petrol heads, Mercedes-Benz have accommodated your needs for a mid-size petrol engine. Not quite the full-on, need to change your pants AMG model, but somewhere in the middle. Welcome the new 450 AMG, a 2996cc V6 petrol producing 367hp. To extend the driving dynamic of the 450 AMG and widen that already huge grin on your face, Mercedes have kindly utilised a system that imitates backfire on overrun. They have also given the drive system a 60:40 split rear to front, so it gives the impression of a tail-happy performance machine. It’s these thoughts that will make this big bulky car so fun and exciting to drive.
Luxury, Luxury, Luxury
Back to our model, and after quite some time drooling over the exterior we jump inside. The Designo Line is extensively plush throughout and typically Mercedes, with Exclusive Porcelain leather adorning the seats and plenty of other beautiful materials to encompass the passengers. The front seats are climatised, meaning they can be heated in winter or ventilated for the summer months. The rear seats can also be heated, with a separate climate control for the rear section of the cabin. It’s very impressive to say the least.
With the new model comes the latest telematics package, and as you’d expect it’s an area that’s not been forgotten. As standard the GLE Coupe comes with COMAND Online, Mercedes’ own 8 inch navigation and media screen. With this you are eligible for the Connect Me service, which utilises a hidden SIM card for a data connection. This allows the customer to remain more connected with the car at all times, and in turn the car with the local Mercedes-Benz retailer. Automatic tele-diagnostics are constantly monitoring the car’s stats, and if necessary relaying service information over to the retailer. It’s nice to know we’re being looked after, even if you’re not interested in technology or how it all works. The sound in the cabin is projected through a Harman Kardon Logic 7 surround sound system, making use of 14 high performance speakers totalling 830 watts. Not that you need that much power from the sound system, you could probably hear a pin drop whatever speed you’re doing.
Decision time, love it or hate it?
There’s another day for a full road test of the GLE, but for now I’m interested to see how the competition handles the new kid on the block. I imagine we’ll get a few X6 customers come to have a look, being the only competitor in such a small market. It would be good to get a direct comparison, but I’ve got my money on the Benz making first blood. The Coupe/SUV is a fairly niche market and I must admit it does split opinions. Personally, I like the look of the car, but the purists out there may not like the idea of crossing an SUV with a Coupe. And I understand that. But from Mercedes’ point of view it is all about offering a car for every customer, and whilst the X6 dominates the market Mercedes can’t get a piece of the pie. And why not create a car for a very small market, it’s competition like this that stems innovation and after everything, better cars for us. This is yet another model to add to the ever growing, ever improving arsenal that Mercedes-Benz is currently producing, and it’s certainly exciting to see what else they’ve got up their sleeve.