We may not get the whole SUV/coupe thing, but Mercedes knows a good niche when it sees one.
– Detroit, Michigan
I’ll never understand this whole SUV-as-a-coupe subsegment. (Hell, I’m still trying to wrap my head around how a four-door sedan can be classified as a coupe – thanks for opening that can of worms, Mercedes-Benz CLS.) Never mind the “exclusivity” or “personalization” or any other luxury automaker buzzword. You’re actually just paying more money for less car. In the case of the Mercedes-Benz GLE, the Coupe you see here has less passenger space, less cargo volume, and costs more money than the standard version. That swooping roofline makes it look all sorts of bad, too – it’s like a giant, puffy armadillo that you can’t get in or out of without bumping your head. Why would you pay more for that?
I know, I’m in the minority. The GLE Coupe and its key rival, the BMW X6, have carved out their little niche in the automotive landscape, and have led to the creation of similarly shaped, smaller products, like the forthcoming GLC Coupe and BMW X4. But while this weird sport-utility-coupe thing doesn’t make sense to my practical eye, there’s still a lot to like here. After all, underneath that curvy new roofline is the very-good Mercedes GLE.
- I really like the 3.0-liter biturbo V6 with the AMG tune – it’s great in the C450, and I can’t wait to see it proliferate through all the new AMG 43 cars. With 362 horsepower and 384 pound-feet of torque, it doesn’t make the nearly 5,000-pound GLE450 Coupe feel super quick or anything, but the power delivery is silky smooth and never laggy.
- I’ve finally found a nine-speed transmission I like; the biggest compliment for the 9G-Tronic transmission is that you don’t even notice it’s there. Leave it to Mercedes to design an in-house nine-speed that bests the ZF-sourced unit found in vehicles like the Chrysler 200 or Land Rover Range Rover Evoque.
- It’s a little topsy turvy at times, but I like the way the GLE450 Coupe drives. The steering has a nice weight and action and the suspension – even in Sport setting – isn’t too harsh. Overall, it moves down the road with a pleasant grace and smooth ride. That said, my test car rolls on different 20-inch wheels that Mercedes fitted for use with winter tires. I’m not sure if/how the standard 21- or optional 22-inch rollers affect the ride quality.
- You can probably guess that I’m also not a fan of the weird BMW X6, but given a choice between the two, I’d take the GLE Coupe, for sure. The GLE’s interior looks and feels more special than the X6. The Merc’s a better steer, too.
- I’m not going to harp on the styling again, but I will say that the compromised shape makes the GLE Coupe hard to see out of. You sit really high up, but the roofline is low. And rearward visibility out of the hatch glass is pretty poor. Plus – because it’s a coupe, remember? – there’s no rear wiper. It would’ve been nice to have that while driving on a rainy day.
- The interior may be a high-lux experience, but it still feels a generation too old. The standard GLE-Class has this problem, as does the larger GLS-Class. They both have nice materials and are super comfy, but all of the switchgear looks a few years behind the rest of the Mercedes curve.
- $88,035. That’s the price you pay for the GLE450 seen here. I don’t really think that’s terribly expensive, given how much luxury cars actually cost these days. I’ll just remind you that a similarly equipped, more functional, slightly less-powerful GLE400 4Matic SUV costs about $10,000 less.
|2016 MERCEDES-BENZ GLE450 AMG COUPE|
|ENGINE||Biturbocharged 3.0L V6|
|OUTPUT||362 Horsepower / 384 Pound-Feet|
|0-60 MPH||5.6 Seconds|
|EPA FUEL ECONOMY||17 City / 23 Highway / 20 Combined|
|CARGO VOLUME||60.7 Cubic Feet|