LIKE IT or not, BMW’s gargantuan X6, a sleek coupé-SUV cross, has sold an impressive 250,000 units since its launch in 2009. So it comes as no surprise that Mercedes, the marque’s fierce rival from Stuttgart, has decided to cash in on drivers’ appetites for all things SUV and launch an X6 rival, the GLE Coupé.
Based on the old ML platform, the Mercedes GLE Coupé is around 14mm wider at 2003mm and 29mm taller at 1731mm than its BMW rival, but 9mm shorter, at 4900mm.
When it goes on sale in summer 2015 it will be offered with line-up of diesel and petrol engines, ranging in power from 255bhp to 362bhp. The GLE 450 AMG will be the first vehicle to feature the new AMG Sports badge, meaning customers get a ‘lite’ AMG experience which gives cars the a sporty body kit and engine tuning that is somewhere between a standard model and full-blown AMG.
Power in these AMG Sports models will come from a biturbo 3-litre V6 petrol engine that produces 362bhp and 383lb ft of torque. Four-wheel drive is standard, and torque is split 40:60 between the front and rear wheels, as opposed to the regular car’s standard 50:50 split 4Matic permanent AWD set-up. Mercedes claims this will mean the AMG Sports models are more fun to drive.
A system called Mercedes’ Dynamic Select allows the vehicle to be set up for different driving conditions, ranging from the softer ‘Comfort’ modes to the high-revving ‘Sport+’ function, where suspension is stiffened and steering response quickened.
All GLE Coupés get a new 9G-Tronic nine-speed automatic transmission, with AMG Sports models featuring air suspension with continuously variable dampers (rather the standard cars’ steel springs).
The added safety benefits of permanent four-wheel-drive will please many customers but there is no mention of true off-road driving features, such as hill-descent assist or a low-ratio gearbox.
Inside, the GLE offers seat for five and the boot has an impressive 670-litres of luggage space – more than rivals. All models benefit from the Mercedes Comand infotainment system and sports seats, while the AMG Sport models get leather and carbonfibre trim.
Official pricing is yet to be released but expect to pay between £60,000-£65,000 for the model. A full-fat Mercedes GLE 63 AMG version, boasting the marque’s 5.5-litre twin-turbo V8, is also planned for later release.