By: Jason Woosey
Stuttgart - Germany's automotive civil war is set to spill over into BMW X6 territory with the release of the Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupé.
Just like the BMW X6 is based on the X5 but with a sportier, more coupé-like silhouette, the GLE Coupé is based on the forthcoming facelifted version of the ML SUV, which will also adopt the GLE name as part of Merc's latest naming strategy.
There's more than just a hint of the S-Class Coupé in the GLE Coupé's front and rear styling and Mercedes-Benz is actually quite blatant about the fact that its new steroid SUV "cites styling features typical of particularly sporty Mercedes-Benz models."
Aim for the top of the range and you'll get the performance to match these sporty intentions. The initial range-topper ushers in a whole new family of Mercedes-AMG 'sports models' that will plug the gap between traditional AMG models and regular Mercs. Think of them as 'entry-level' AMGs.
So while those big, bad V8 AMG versions of the GLE are certainly on the horizon, the performance flagship for now is the GLE 450 AMG, powered by a 3-litre twin-turbo V6 petrol engine that generates 270kW and 520Nm. This semi-bad-boy is also set apart by a bespoke AMG exterior styling pack and 21-inch alloy wheels.
The initial range also includes a GLE 400 petrol model, powered by a 245kW/480Nm version of the aforementioned V6 and a GLE 350d, which will be the efficiency champion of the range with its 190kW/620Nm 3-litre V6 turbodiesel.
AWD, AIR SUSPENSION
In all cases, a 9G-Tronic automatic gearbox channels power to all four wheels through Merc's 4Matic permanent all-wheel drive system. In the GLE 350d and GLE 400 versions, torque is split equally between the front and back wheels, while the GLE 450 AMG sends 60 percent to the rear in the name of racier handling.
The 350d and 400 come with steel suspension, but buyers have the option of indulging in Airmatic air suspension, standard on the 450 AMG. The GLE Coupé also features the Dynamic Select handling control system that allows drivers to adjust the suspension along the comfort-sport continuum.
The cabin offers seating for up to five occupants and there is a wide range of colour and material combinations available to buyers and let's not even get started on the gadgets on offer. A highlight, though, is the latest generation Comand Online infotainment system with its 20.3cm TFT display and touchpad.
Mercedes-Benz South Africa plans to launch the GLE Coupé on local soil during the third quarter of 2015, with prices and local specification levels set to be announced nearer to the time.
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