Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe review

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The Mercedes GLE Coupe is a luxury SUV Coupe that revels in its role as an opinion divider. Jonathan Crouch reports on the revised version of the second generation model.

Ten Second Review

The Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe is the three-pointed star's take on BMW's X6, a large luxury crossover that rides on SUV underpinnings but which features a coupe-like sloping roof. Whether you like this genre of car or not, it's hard not to be impressed by Mercedes' execution of the theme. It's a sportier, more stylish coupe-styled version of the GLE-Class five-door model and gains an added dash of maturity in the revised version of this second generation design.

Background

If something works, then you should first copy it, then improve upon it. Take the rather curious, contradictory idea of a luxury SUV Coupe. BMW introduced it with their X6 model in 2007 and sold so many that Mercedes couldn't help noticing the need for something similar, hence the introduction of the first generation GLE Coupe in 2014, then followed by the announcement of this second generation version five years later.

If you'd like a sportscar but need a large SUV and want something that's fashion-conscious and stylish, this Mercedes aims to satisfy. It's certainly an arresting thing to look at, as extrovert, powerful and in-your-face as a car of this kind needs to be. Yet there is perhaps a dash of maturity here too that the rival BMW X6 maybe doesn't quite have. Enough to also perfectly position this GLE Coupe against upper-spec versions of other sportier contenders in the luxury SUV segment like Jaguar's F-PACE and Maserati's Levante. Here, we look at the revised version of this second generation design.

Driving Experience

There are two main GLE Coupe engine options and most buyers are likely to choose the base diesel derivative, a 450 d 4MATIC variant that features a six cylinder diesel engine, which produces 367hp. This unit's enhanced by the Mercedes EQ Boost mild hybrid system, which uses a 48-volt onboard network with a belt-driven starter/alternator - the system adds 22hp to the car's overall output. This version can sprint from 0 to 62mph in just 5.6 seconds and has a top speed of 155mph. Unlike in a rival BMW X6, there's also a Plug-in Hybrid petrol model, the GLE 400 e, which uses a 2.0-litre four cylinder petrol engine with a 31.2kWh battery pack and claims up to 68 miles of e-range.

As before, in both variants, power is transmitted via 9G-TRONIC automatic transmission. Ride comfort and agility are promised by the optional 48V E-ACTIVE BODY CONTROL suspension, which is combined with the optional AIRMATIC air suspension. This is the only system in the market where the spring and damping forces can be individually controlled at each wheel. This means that it not only counteracts body roll, but also pitching and squat.

On the conventional model, an optional 'Off-Road Engineering' package adds under-body protection, air suspension and 30mm of extra ground clearance. If air suspension and the 'E-Active Body Control' system have been fitted, Mercedes says the GLE can tow up to 3.5-tonnes. And the car can be had with a clever 'Trailer Manoevring assist' system and also a 'trailer route planner' in the nav system to help drivers avoid pinch points for long or tall vehicles.

Design and Build

The visual changes with this update are much as you'd expect from a facelift. So the front grille gets extra chrome, the front bumper's re-shaped, the running light signature's been changed on the LED headlamps and the rear LED tail lamps have been restyled too. Plus this revised GLE Coupe now gets the standard the 'AMG Line' exterior that most previous customers wanted, with its diamond-patterned front grille, deeper bumper and extended wheel arches. Otherwise, things are much as before, which means a flat-angled windscreen, a rear-sloping roof line and large, flush 22-inch wheels. Broad, muscular C-pillars deliver what Mercedes calls a 'ready-to-pounce' look.

Inside, the model update changes are equally subtle. If you owned the pre-facelift model, you'll notice the redesigned steering wheel, which has touch controls that allow access to central screen functions. Mercedes has also added extra chrome to the air vents and made available various fresh colour and trim combinations. As before, much of the fascia architecture is familiar from the ordinary GLE, but the coupe feel is emphasised by a high centre console and well-positioned sports seats with nappa leather trim. Other than that, the first thing you'll probably notice at the front is the usual pair of 12.3-inch TFT screens, one in the instrument binnacle and one in the centre of the dash that works with the brand's 'MBUX' voice-activated multimedia system. 

The rear seat is more spacious that the swept-back lines would suggest. And in the 450 d, there's a big 655-litre boot, extendable to 1,790-litres once you fold the 40:20:40-split rear bench. In the 400 e Plug-in, those figures fall to 510-litres and 1,645-litres.

Market and Model

The GLE Coupe comes only in a single very well equipped 'AMG Line Premium Plus' guise priced at around £93,000, which is a whopping price increase of around £20,000 over what the pre-facelifted model cost until recently. That's for the 450 d diesel 4MATIC version. You'll need around £95.500 for the GLE 400 e 4MATIC petrol Plug-in Hybrid derivative.

At least you get plenty of kit for that: 22-inch wheels, soft-close doors, Multicontour front seats that react to corners, surround lighting and a vast portfolio of camera safety features. There's also a panoramic sunroof, climatised front seats, the 'Air Balance' package that adds scents to the interior, temperature-controlled cup holders and the brand's 'Energizing Package', which gives you selectable sounds and colour themes in the cabin.

As woith all GLE variants, you can expect to find the brand's pair of 'Widescreen cockpit' screens for infotainment and instrument dials, the centre display featuring MBUX Navigation with Augmented Reality, plus you get a 'Live Traffic' system and a premium Burmester Surround Sound audio set-up. There's also 'THERMATIC' Climate Control, along with ambient lighting, electric front seats with memory setting, electrically adjustable rear seats, a wireless Charging mat and a Dashcam.

Cost of Ownership

From the main 450 d diesel variant, you can expect a combined cycle showing of up to 34.9mpg on the WLTP combined cycle and a CO2 reading of just 212g/km. The GLE 400 e Plug-in hybrid delivers up to 28.8 combined mpg and emits 22g/km of CO2. What else? Well, we'll tell you that the comprehensive three year warranty is built upon by Mercedes' Mobilo scheme which delivers breakdown cover for up to thirty years, as long as you continue to have your car serviced at a Mercedes main dealer. And it's worth knowing that your maintenance outlay can be kept a little in check by going for the optional Service Care package that takes care of routine maintenance, spreading the cost of regular servicing, guaranteeing the price of parts and labour for up to four services and covering the cost of all recommended service items such as brake fluid, spark plugs, air filters, fuel filters and screen wash.

There's also an ASSYST dashboard service indicator that monitors engine use and tells you exactly when a garage visit is due. It's also worth mentioning that the 'Mercedes me' remote online services package that comes as part of the infotainment system includes remote self-diagnostic capability, enabling your GLE to monitor wear and tear items and alert your local dealer to let you know if something needs seeing to.

Summary

This is the kind of car that evokes howls of self-righteous indignation from the motoring press. They'll criticise its weight, its looks and its politically incorrect attitude. Before, of course, going on to fawn over some enormous luxury limousine or thirsty, dirty supercar. It's all very hypocritical. If you don't like this car, then fair enough. But don't moralise about it.

True, if you're a business buyer, your CEO might still raise an amused eyebrow, but if you're the kind of very individual customer who'll want one of these, then you probably won't mind that for you'll be someone who shares the confidence that's apparent in every aspect of this model's make-up. In years to come, when considering this market segment, we might well forget who got there first and who tagged along. Who knows, we might even forget about SUV-coupes. In the here and now though, here's one of the very finest.

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