Mercedes-Benz lopped off the rear of its ML-Class when it rebadged the facelift to the GLE and the GLE Coupé was born. And like it or not, thanks to the BMW X6, we already know the SUV Coupé is here to stay. The BMW X4 and X6 do swift business, and Mercedes-Benz is looking to capture that with the GLE Coupé and the soon-to-be-launched GLC Coupé. Will there be a GLA Coupé? Well all I will say is never say never!
But on to the review at hand then! Once it is evident why the GLE Coupé was conceived, I have to say that it is definitely better proportioned and better looking than the X6! The GLE Coupé almost looks like a cross-sedan at first glance, doesn’t it? The rear is trying a bit too hard to be in line with the S-Coupé, and the boot release housed in the rear bumper isn’t convenient. But the reverse camera being housed beneath the Mercedes star is quite clever. It flips open only when in use, and closes at other times, which means that it won’t get too much mud splatter or rain water obscuring the camera view.
The car we are getting in India is the 450 AMG, not to be confused with the Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 Coupé. Mercedes-AMG is a separate brand remember, and yes also offers its own variant of the Coupé, but we are not getting that. Yet. So what you do get therefore is complete AMG trim, but not an AMG powerplant. I remember saying this last year when I first drove the car – that Mercedes-Benz India will do well to get us the AMG trim Coupé as a niche offering – because let’s face it, when compared to the GLE 250/350 the Coupé will be niche. Happily, Mercedes-Benz India seems to have agreed with me.
Even though it may be just the trim, the 450 is still no meek machine. The car punches 367 horses and peak torque of 520 Nm kicks in as low as 1800 rpm and has a nice run all the way through to 4000 rpm. And then there’s the new 9-speed gearbox of course. This gearbox really delivers – it downshifts very quickly, and is even more fun and responsive with the paddle shift. We got this new gearbox for the first time late last year when the GLE arrived. I did drive it in Europe for the first time on the Coupé by the way! The reason why Mercedes has gone from the 7G-tronic to the 9G-tronic is to have a greater flexibility for the different kinds of engine it’s going to be playing with, across segments, going forward. And it is also to cater to the kind of consumer preferences for those different engines, and the different driving habits of those consumers too.
The Coupé has a distinctly different drive feel, and a very different character overall when compared to the GLE SUV. The Coupé is quick, nimble, and has a more car-like feel for sure. The petrol V6 is powerful, but its real character comes alive only when you put the car into Sport Plus mode (not so much in Sport mode too in fact – which is a surprise really). In Sport Plus it also tends to add to the exhaust note with some loud and very fun pops and crackles. The gear changes are really nice and quick so you get exactly the kind of performance that you want from the car. The car is fast, but it is not as sporty as I’d like. It doesn’t have that slight stiffness of the steering, or its suspension that you would like. The new X6 stays ahead on pure performance and handling, but I think the focus of the Coupé is very different as its not really trying to be very sporty. The whole idea here really seems to be about pampering the buyer. And so it is the cabin of the Coupé that will really impress them.
The interiors are in fact the USP of the new GLE Coupé, and will get the buyers’ attention straight off. The car is very luxurious, and the trim is class apart. It is also very well appointed and sports all the bells, whistles and gadgets buyers today demand.
It’s a good differentiator to carry into the Indian market too, especially after the Volvo XC90 has also wowed buyers with its stunning interior. Mercedes-Benz has surprised us with a sooner-than-expo launch. The Coupé will impress – both with its drive and its cabin. On looks, it is attractive, and even some bits of the rear are sexy. But then you are getting this from someone who isn’t quite enamoured with an SUV Coupé in the first place, so be your own judge! The Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupé 450 AMG has been launched in India today. Prices start at 86.40 lakh (ex-showroom, Mumbai).