All wheel drive Mercedes-Benz lovers will be delighted to hear that they have introduced two new models, one distinctly different from the other but both bearing the GLE family badge. Apart from some design similarities and common technical features, they are as different from each other in appearance as chalk is from cheese. One, the GLE, is the name given to the new model launched to replace the popular M-Class whose introduction back in 1997 established what later became the premium SUV segment. Second, the GLE Coupé, is said by Mercedes-Benz to be the trailblazer for what they believe will become another new model segment. Apart from expanding their ever-increasing model range, its development is viewed as one that they hope will attract even more customers to their brand. Complementing their introduction is the launch of a new range of AMG Sport models. For performance connoisseurs, two full-pedigree, full-blooded models bearing the Mercedes-AMG badge are a Mercedes-AMG 63 4MATIC and 63 S 4MATIC while, specific to the GLE Coupé, is a new AMG-Sport model GLE 450 AMG 4MATIC.
Like its predecessor, the robustly stylish GLE is aimed at the go-where-you-please motorist who seeks premium class transport that is equally at home, on or off road. Visually, it arrives fresh from a makeover that has given it an altogether more athletic appearance typical of what one might expect in this class of vehicle. Changes are seen in its new frontal appearance with domed bonnet, pronounced air intakes, louvered grille, changed bumpers, under-ride guards, prominent inset star. Inside, a large media display integrated within the instrument panel and a centre-console with a command controller device are the eye-catching elements. Three petrol and three diesel engines – all Euro 6 compliant – power the GLE. Petrol models, all with 4-Matic, 7-speed automatic transmission, are a twin-turbo 3-litre, 333bhp, V6 GLE400 and a twin-turbo 4.7-litre, 435bhp,V8 GLE500. For the first time in this segment, a 3-litre, 333bhp, plug-in GLE500e hybrid electric model is offered whose fuel consumption is benchmarked at 3.31-litres/100km or 85.6 mpg in old money. Diesel versions, all with 9-speed automatic transmission, comprise a 4-cylinder, 2.1-litre, 204bhp GLE250d available in both RWD and 4-Matic format plus a 4-cylinder, 3-litre, 258bhp GLE350d. Across the GLE (and Coupé) engine range, fuel consumption and emissions are reduced by a significant 17% compared to previously.
By contrast, the GLE Coupé is a sleek, low-slung, four-door coupé whose sweeping lines and muscular appearance single it out as the class-creating innovation it is designed to be. Features that underline its robust off-road capability include the obligatory front and rear under guards. Inside, its compact sports steering wheel, raised seating position, expansive visibility, infotainment system and upholstery and trim elements all testify to its SUV parentage. Engines chosen to power the GLE Coupé are the GLE400 petrol and the GLE350d diesel from the GLE. Line-up. It comes with 4-Matic permanent all-wheel drive, nine-speed automatic transmission and a towing capacity of 3,500kg. Luggage capacity is a spacious 1,650 litres, claimed by Mercedes-Benz to be a coupé world record for luggage space.
Both models are equipped with a mind-blowing range of standard and optional features – driving assistance, comfort and parking assistance packages that kick-in to prevent accidents and protect passengers. In their publicity, Mercedes-Benz places major emphasis on their Dynamic Select handling control system, a feature common to both models whose characteristics vary from one to the other and whose workings are visualized on the central media dashboard display. Six drive programmes are offered on the GLE – four as standard (Sport, Comfort, Slippery and Individual) – with the option of an Offroad setting and Offroad Plus for all-wheel variants. The GLE Coupé has a Sport Plus setting. Other features available include ADS variable damping, ESP, Agility Control, Airmatic Suspension, Collision Prevention Assist and ECO Stop/Start. Though due here shortly, prices for the Irish market have yet to be determined. In that regard, Mercedes-Benz sales manager Ciaran Allen comments: ‘it will be our intention to launch both models with a competitive edge, to introduce our M-Class owners to the new GLE and to establish a strong customer base for the all-new GLE Coupé’.