The Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupé is the more sporty version of the facelifted third-generation M-class, for which the carmaker now uses the GLE moniker. The GLE Coupé will be launched with two standard engines: a 254bhp turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 diesel and a 328bhp twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre petrol V6. A further two petrol options developed by AMG are to follow – a 362bhp version of the twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 in the GLE450 AMG and a 549bhp twin-turbocharged 5.5-litre V8 as well as a gutsier 577bhp version in the GLE63 Coupé.
All models will come with Mercedes' 4Matic four-wheel-drive system as standard.
What's it like?
Using the GLE as its base, the GLE Coupé has been extensively re-engineered. The two models share the same steel monocoque platform and 2915mm wheelbase. However, the GLE Coupé has track widths increased both at the front (3mm) and at the rear (60mm), over those of the GLE. The new Mercedes receives four conventional front-hinged doors and a large liftback-style tailgate. The V6 diesel in the GLE350d Coupé is not greatly distinguished in either performance or fuel economy, but it's pleasantly refined in all but the upper reaches of its rev range and, with a stout 63.18kgm of torque on tap at 1600rpm, is flexible across a wide spread of revs. There's plenty of punch for overtaking, although an official 0-100kph time of 7.0sec and 225kph top speed is nothing special.
A standard nine-speed automatic gearbox feels smoother and more intuitive than the older seven-speed unit used in the GLE400 Coupé; it provides quick, decisive shifts up and down the 'box. The engine requires so few revs at 129kph 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 Coupé 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 and 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. 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 Coupé – 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 Coupé 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.
Despite its heavily curved roofline and angled liftback-style tailgate, the GLE Coupé offers plenty of cabin space all round. The low-set rear seats cater to three adult passengers, with adequate leg and head room for the outer seat occupants. However, the middle seat is compromised by a narrow seat cushion and transmission tunnel. Boot space is a claimed 650 litres, although the boot of the GLE has an unusually high loading lip, making it fairly awkward to lift heavy items over. The rear bumper extends so high, in fact, that it is used to house the opening mechanism for the automatic tailgate.
Should I buy one?
Whatever your thoughts about the showy styling, there’s no ignoring the sheer presence of the GLE Coupé on the road. This could well be higher among the considerations of potential customers than any other aspect of the new Mercedes, including its engaging handling.