It was only a matter of time before Mercedes introduced its own crossover coupe. Well, the Mercedes-Benz GLE450 AMG Coupe has the words ‘Coupe’ and ‘AMG’ in its name – so it was only a matter of time before we tested it at the BIC.
I have to say that I’m never really been a fan of the BMW X6 – the machine that effectively spawned the GLE Coupe. But, I’m obviously in the minority, as it appears that BMW’s strategy of filling every niche in the market and then some has been quite kind to its bottom line. And so, following in the X6’s slightly awkward (well, visually anyway) footsteps is the new X4 – which hasn’t yet been introduced in India. Mercedes has already shown a coupe version of its latest SUV, the GLC – which, in conventional form, will be introduced in India shortly. So, it appears that I better get used to this body style – whether I like it or not.
I must admit, though, that the GLE Coupe looks rather more pleasing than the X6. The sheer gargantuan mass doesn’t lend itself well to being called a coupe, but Mercedes appears to have pulled it off all the same. The rear deck lid, with a mild ducktail spoiler built-in, and a chrome strip running through it, actually looks reasonably svelte and quite pleasing. From the front, the big air dams and massive grille certainly seem quite imposing. In fact, especially in this cherry red, this machine most definitely makes a statement on the road. If you want a car for no other reason other than to get noticed, forget about that two-door sports car – which will invariably be cramped – get yourself one of these. You will not go unnoticed, I assure you. And you’ll be quite happy to be ensconced in this cabin too. The seats are incredibly comfortable and supportive, and every component in the cabin feels like its been built to last till the end of time. Mercedes certainly seem to have got their A-game back when it comes to quality. The three-spoke, flat-bottomed steering wheel is a joy to hold, and the driving position is pretty good too.
The question is, does any of that actually help it on the track? Well, for starters, it’s really meaningless to get into the specifics of how large the wheels and tyres are – suffice to say that they’re absolutely massive. And that means you expect them to provide pretty substantial levels of grip – which they do. A lot of grip in fact! Despite this, however, the electronic nannies don’t go off completely. But, actually, that’s a good thing because when you have two-and-some-tonnes of metal to hurl through corners, a little bit of extra help is always welcome. When you turn the stability control off, it does allow you to slide somewhat, but it kicks in once again when it feels the need to help you maintain your intended direction of travel. And that’s actually quite useful, since the GLE Coupe doesn’t take too kindly to quick changes of direction. But, get this, this fire breathing monster matched the much more svelte and athletic Jaguar XE for lap time – down to the last tenth! And there’s only one reason for that – the drivetrain.
The brand new, twin-turbo 3.0-litre petrol engine, mated to Mercedes’ new 9-speed gearbox, is simply sensational. It howls all the way to the redline. There’s no turbo lag to speak of whatsoever, and it gives you a nice little burp from the exhaust every time you flick the paddle to change gears – it’s all quite addictive actually. And this 9-speed gearbox is actually very good in manual mode. In auto, it’s always changing gears – it has enough ratios to keep itself busy I suppose – but it never interferes with the driving experience. It makes sure that the engine is ready and willing to fire when given the command. Which it is! It’s a gem of a motor – smooth, progressive, powerful, and sweet sounding too. What more could you ask for?
On the road too, the GLE Coupe is a great machine in which to cover ground. It’s immensely comfortable – both in the front and the back – and the sheer brute force and power from under the hood is always available for the taking.
I genuinely didn’t expect to like this car. But I do. Of course, you do need a little bit of help from the electronics to keep it pointed in the right direction, but in Sport-Plus it has surprisingly little roll and immense grip from the massive tyres. Sure, it’s nowhere near in the same league as the X6 M – but that costs nearly twice as much. No, this is not an AMG in the true sense. But it is one that takes a lot of cues from its AMG brethren – and pulls it off surprisingly well in the end. So, even if you buy it merely for the statement it makes – and it certainly makes one commensurate with its size – you can be rest assured that you’ve made the right choice.
- Mercedes Benz GLE450 AMG Coupe
Engine: 2,996cc / 6 Cylinders / 24 Valves / DOHC / Direct injection / Twin Turbocharged
Transmission: 9-Speed Automatic / Rear-Wheel drive
Power: 367bhp @ 5,500-6,000rpm
Torque: 520Nm @ 1,800-4,000rpm
Acceleration: 0-100km/h – 5.7seconds
Price: Rs. 86.4 lakhs (Ex-showroom, Mumbai)
|CURRENT TESTS||Lap Time||Top Speed|
|Mercedes Benz GLE450 AMG Coupe||2:37.2||197 (Km/H)|
|Jaguar XE 25t||2:37.6||191 (Km/H)|
|Maruti-Suzuki Vitara Brezza||2:55.6||157 (Km/H)|