Niches. That’s the new buzzword in the automotive world currently. How else does one justify the influx of less practical but expensive (and in some cases outrageously styled) cars? We have four door coupes (though I agree these look fabulous); fastback estates; sedans and hatches in SUV clothing; and the latest fad – coupe SUVs.
The BMW X6 kick-started the latter and though it wasn’t received well (at least by self -proclaimed style gurus), it did its job – it got noticed, it won a few fans, and most of all, it got the competition to follow. Meet the Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe – here in 450 AMG guise – the first of many coupe SUVs that Mercedes and others will bring to the market, all inspired by the X6.
The GLE Coupe is based on the GLE, which is obvious given the facial resemblance of the two SUVs. But, look closer and you’ll realise how different they are. From the hood to the bumpers and fenders; from the doors to the wheel arches and of course that sloping down roofline, every panel on the Coupe is new compared to the GLE. It’s a completely different car from the rear too, with a new tailgate, taillights and bumper.
And it has great road presence. Now, personally, I don’t like the way it looks, but park it up a high street, in a gathering of SUVs, off the road or even in your office parking lot, and only a blind man would fail to notice and comment on it. And that to us is half the battle won. The GLE Coupe is a car meant for those who like to be pointed at, and this Mercedes delivers that in spades.
The Coupe isn’t as dramatically different on the inside, though. It gets a similar looking dashboard, identical knobs and buttons for climate control, audio, COMAND system and what have you. The materials used are similar to the regular GLE as well. So there’s high quality plastic everywhere embellished with wood and metal inserts. There’s soft grain, leather, immaculate fit and finish and the aura of luxury almost everywhere you look. It’s a great cabin to be in.
There’s loads of equipment too. It gets sports seat that are in fact quite cushy and comfy; more like recliners than hard buckets. These are electronically adjustable and come with memory settings. The Coupe also gets a panoramic sunroof, which in the middle of March with the temperatures touching 39 degrees didn’t seem like a very good idea; especially with it getting a curtain instead of a hard siding cover. There’s ambient lighting, temperature controlled cup holders, electric tailgate, and a three-zone climate control system as well.
All this is, of course, in addition to the standard Mercedes fare of electrically adjustable steering, a great sounding audio system, detailed trip computers, and a plethora of safety kit. To mention a few, besides the regular ABS and ESP and many airbags, the GLE Coupe also gets Adaptive High Beam Assist, Attention Assist, Crosswind Assist and Pre-Safe.
In terms of space, the front and the boot are fantastic. The second row though (and you can’t order one with three rows of seating) has limited headroom. Coupe and all. Shoulder and knee room though, as you’d expect from a car that sits on 2915mm wheelbase and measures over 2000mm in width, is more than adequate.
This one’s a petrol. And a large hearted, powerful one at that. The GLE Coupe gets a 3.0-litre V6 motor good for nearly 370bhp. The peak torque at 520Nm is equally notable and it comes in as early as 2000rpm. No wonder, the GLE Coupe masks its over 2.2-tonne weight so well. It gets a 9-speed torque convertor automatic, and four driving modes – Comfort, Sport, Sport+ and Individual. And there’s no dearth of pulling power even in Comfort.
But, it’s in Sport+ that the Coupe feels the most alive. The throttle response is instant, the gears hold on to revs a little longer before upshifting (shift times are quick too), and there’s a bit of crackle and pop at overrun as well. The steering is at its heaviest in Sport+, and the handling isn’t all that ponderous. But, there’s still no getting away from the Coupe’s weight. So, it rolls around bends, takes its own time to settle into a turn and doesn’t enjoy quick direction changes much.
There’s a downside to the Sport+ mode too – a stiff ride. It’s not jarring or bouncy but it isn’t exactly comfortable either. In Comfort however, the ride is supple (only the really large potholes or bumps get the better of the Coupe), the steering is light (but still precise), and the cabin is a whole lot quieter. So, if you have many miles to cover in the day, stick with Comfort. Around a hill climb, Sport+ works best. But, if you generally want to have fun all round, our suggestion would be to turn that dial to Individual and choose Sport+ for the engine and Comfort for everything else via the COMAND system.
In terms of numbers, the GLE Coupe hits 100kmph in 6.05 seconds, 200kmph in 26.04 seconds and then goes on to record a limited top speed of 250kmph. Given all that torque and its flat nature, the Coupe is brilliant in kick downs. The 20-80kmph only takes 3.50seconds while the 40-80kmph test is completed in 4.49 seconds.
So, the Mercedes GLE Coupe 450 AMG isn’t a true blue AMG. It’s meant to bridge the gap between ‘needs’ and ‘wants’. But, as you tell from the figures, it’s definitely in the ‘want’ camp.
|Variant||450 AMG Coupe|
|Max. Power (bhp@rpm)||367 @ 5500|
|Max. torque (Nm@rpm)||520 @ 1800|
|Fuel Capacity (in litres)||93|
|Tyre size||275/45 R21 (Front) and 315/40 R21 (Rear)|
|Touchscreen infotainment system||Yes|
|Traction control with ESP||Yes|
|Ride Height adjustment||Yes|
|ABS with EBD||Yes|
|Four-zone climate control||Yes|
Competition All Specs
|Variant||xDrive40d||450 AMG Coupe|
|Max. Power (bhp@rpm)||313 @ 4400rpm||367 @ 5500|
|Max. torque (Nm@rpm)||630 @ 1500rpm||520 @ 1800|
|Fuel Capacity (in litres)||85-litres||93|
|Tyre size||255/50 R19 (Front) and 285/45 R19 (Rear)||275/45 R21 (Front) and 315/40 R21 (Rear)|
So, what do we make of the Mercedes GLE Coupe? It’s a niche; we have established that. So, it’s never going to sell in numbers, not in India, and not across the world either. But, it’s an opportunity for Mercedes to bring in a new set of buyers, buyers who already own luxury sedans and are looking to add a recreational tool to their garage. But, not one with the utilitarian aura of a regular SUV (read GLE); instead they want the go-anywhere feel but with high pose value.
So, if you want a second car in the house, one that can do stuff your regular, everyday luxury sedan can’t. And you don’t mind paying more for the higher visual presence. Or for the limited headroom in the second row. Or the complete lack of third row seating. Well, the GLE Coupe might just be worth considering.
Photo Courtesy By : Kapil Angane