SUV COUPE? Mercedes is claiming the name for its four-door SUV with slanting roof line, taking the battle squarely to BMW's polarising X6.
SUV COUPE? Mercedes is claiming the name for its four-door SUV with slanting roof line, taking the battle squarely to BMW's polarising X6. Mark Bramley

Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe review

FASHIONABLY tardy. Mercedes-Benz may be joining the large luxury SUV party late, but it comes with a bang and crackle.

The all-new GLE Coupe has arrived to battle BMW's X6.

Bolstered by a chest-thumping bi-turbo V8, this athletically dressed high-riding coupe is Australia's most powerful SUV and hero of a new three-pronged offering from Mercedes.

While an offshoot of the family-focussed GLE wagon range, the sportier Coupe range starts from $121,900, with the halo 63 S just shy of $200k.

Comfort

Double-stitched leather trim across the dash, quality materials and a central 20.3cm colour screen are befitting luxury expectations.

As expected, the layout is essentially a carbon copy of the GLE wagon. While not in the same swanky league as the new C-Class, interior design remains clean and cohesive.

2015 Mercedes-Benz GLE Photo: Contributed
2015 Mercedes-Benz GLE Photo: Contributed DaimlerAG; Global Communications

All variants have sporting seats with reasonable lateral and thigh support, but those perched up front may find the ride position too high courtesy of limited vertical travel.

Well insulated, the cabin is protected from road noise intrusions, apart from the welcome crackles and burps from the exhaust in sporting derivatives.

Five adults will find the confines accommodating (the Coupe is actually longer and wider than the wagon on which it is based), and rear head room is reasonable.

On the road

With a trio of engine choices, it's the base model diesel offering the most practical appeal. Mirroring the drivetrain combination of a nine-speed auto with 3.0-litre turbo diesel found in the GLE wagon, it does the job with strength and dexterity.

Yet for those seeking some X-factor fun, it's the petrol pairing which will get your blood pumping.

Consider the six-pot bi-turbo noble territory. For $20,000 more than the diesel you get a Coupe which can sprint from 0-100kmh in less than six seconds, all accompanied by addictive bangs and crackles from the exhaust on downshifts.

If that's not enough, there is always the king: the 63 S. Surpassing the raucous BMW X5 and X6 M variants (423kW/ 750Nm), this hardcore V8 pumps out 430kW and 760Nm courtesy of a dual turbo set up.

STRIKING: 2015 Mercedes-Benz  GLE Coupe
STRIKING: 2015 Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe Mark Bramley

Select the more mundane mode of "comfort" and there is steady power with a gravely soundtrack, but dial-up sport+ and exhaust tune is of symphonic proportions which negates the need for the lovely Harman Kardon stereo system.

Downshifting becomes compulsive as it barks with appreciation, and you don't even need to be pulling on the paddles to maintain the power sweet spot - the seven speed box is intuitive as it grabs cogs under braking, maintaining instant throttle response.

Across the range the Coupe corners well. Sometimes it feels top-heavy but gravity always wins and this is a large beast - although it feels remarkably more lithe than the wagon despite being 75kg heavier.

What do you get?

Base diesels come with some nice kit, including 21-inch AMG alloys, AMG body kit and interior trinkets, LED lighting, automatic tailgate, air suspension, 20.3cm colour screen with sat nav, CD/DVD and digital radio capability, phone and audio Bluetooth connectivity, 14-speaker Harman Kardon stereo, dual zone climate controlled air con, along with the full gamut of safety gear, such as nine airbags, radar cruise control, blind spot and crosswind assist.

Step up into the 450 AMG and it gains 22-inch alloys, spoiler, panoramic sunroof, anti-roll suspension, black leather upholstery with red stitching and a dual exhaust.

The big daddy 63 S also gets the supple Nappa leather, multi-contoured front seats, air suspension, digital TV, performance exhaust, brake callipers with "AMG" lettering and the speed limiter raised to 280kmh.

BUM LOOK  BIG? Styling isn't to everyone's taste, but the GLE Coupe will certainly get you noticed
BUM LOOK BIG? Styling isn't to everyone's taste, but the GLE Coupe will certainly get you noticed Mark Bramley

Practicality

Open the boot via a dash button or the lowly placed knob near the number plate and there's a cavernous space. At 1650 litres Mercedes said it's the best you can get in this genre, although it's a narrow area.

The load capacity is improved by the folding rear seats. You have to flip up the seat bases to drop the rear pew backs via a small lever near the door opening.

Running costs

Expect thrifty fuel consumption performance from the diesel… in the realm of eight litres for every 100km.

When it comes to the petrols, it's very much dependent on driver behaviour.

The 450 could conceivably sip around 11, but things can quickly get out of hand in the 63 S. Some blatts of the throttle, and rapid down changes saw a return of 25 litres/100km - nearly double the official figure. Whoops.

With more judicious use of the fun pedal that could be curtailed, but the noise the bent eight generates we'd happily pay the bowser trade off.

Funky factor

The Merc is less aggressive than its rival BMW X6, which could well broaden the appeal and deliver improved sales predictions than one for every five of GLEs sold. Its smooth and shapely rear, elongated lines, running boards, lower stance and muscular wheel arches make the Coupe better in metal than pictures first indicated.

You can option a couple of "night" packages which includes lashings of dark features.

HIGH END: 2015 Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe range starts at $121,900 and top out near $200k for the halo AMG monster.
HIGH END: 2015 Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe range starts at $121,900 and top out near $200k for the halo AMG monster. Mark Bramley

The lowdown

Meghan Trainor told us, it's important to have all the right junk in all the right places.

This Coupe has a fair amount of booty to hold at night, although just like the X6, it will have instant appeal to some and prompt hatred from others.

Brimming with presence, sporting performance and no weak links across the engine line-up, the GLE Coupe is a genuine segment contender.

 

What matters most

What we liked: Brutal power in the V8 derivative, looks good in the metal, much sharper drive than the GLE wagon.

What we liked to see: Improved rear seat folding function with levers in the rear, lower front seating position.

Warranty and servicing: Three-year unlimited kilometre warranty. Servicing is every 20,000km or 12 months.

2015 Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe
2015 Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe Mark Bramley

Vital statistics

Model: Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe.

Details: Five-door all-wheel drive mid-size sports utility vehicle coupe.

Engines: 350d - 3.0-litre six-cylinder turbo diesel 190kW and 620Nm; 450 AMG - 3.0-litre six-cylinder bi-turbo 270kW and 520Nm; 63 S - 5.5-litre eight-cylinder bi-turbo 430kW and 760Nm.

Transmissions: Nine-speed automatic, seven-speed automatic on 63 S.

Consumption: 350d - 7.2L/100km; 450 AMG - 9.4L/100km; 63 S - 11.9L.100km.

Performance 0-100kmh: 350d - 7.0 seconds; 450AMG - 5.7; 63 S - 4.2.

Bottom line plus on-roads: 350d $121,900; 450 AMG $141,900; 63 S $198,900.



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