The 2016 Mercedes-Benz GLE 450 AMG Coupe is an SUV that feels like a sports car. A cruiser that can pounce. Basically it's the most versatile accessory since the black t-shirt, according to the folks who built it. All we know so far is it looks like an X6 and comes with an options catalog longer than Santa's "naughty" list.
While this vehicle has the bulbous build of a crossover, Mercedes says "occupants are led to believe that they are in sports rather than off-road mode." If the high ride height confused you about that, just look at the gaping air intakes and steamroller wheels with up to 22" of bling. It all says speed,man.
The biturbo three liter V6's output has been posted at a fairly hair-raising 362 horsepower and 384 lb-ft of torque on tap from just 1,400 RPM. Curb weight and fuel economy are still secret.
BMW's boosted six-banger of the same displacement in the X6 can only crap out 300 horsepower and 300 lb-ft of torque, "so suck it" (is what I read between the lines of the Mercedes media briefing).
The GLE AMG Coupe's engine is mated to a 9G-TRONIC nine-speed automatic transmission, which is once again a bigger number than BMW's equivalent offering which has a paddle-shiftable eight-speed.
4MATIC permanent all-wheel drive with a 40/60 front-to-rear power split transfers energy to the wheels. The powertrain can be cycled through Comfort, Sport, Sport+, Slippery, and Individual modes with a rotary control on the center console.
These modes basically adjust power distribution to create an experience indicated by their title, and Individual allows "personal preferences for engine control strategies" to be pre-selected. Not sure how much good that would actually do you though; it's not like the car's going to let you write a better fuel map than what Stuttgart's engineers could come up with.
The GLE Coupe's human-machine interface also adjusts with the vehicle's mode; Mercedes describes the gauges in Comfort as "relaxed" while the Sport and Sport+ dials take on a more aggressive look.
Engine sounds are augmented. Oh yes, that means fake noise, which is enhanced in the Sport modes "especially when downshifting." But Mercedes is keen to stress that this car, SUV, crossover, or whatever the hell you want to call it will yield a genuinely engaging driving experience. All the sporting pretensions you want with the headroom to wear the stovepipe hat you so desperately can't be without, remember?
The vehicle stands at 192.9" long, 78.9" wide, and 68.1" tall with a 114.8" wheelbase. It goes on sale late this summer, with what we're promised is a terrifically long list of color and aesthetic trim options and an unbelievably long list of safety features.
No, really, there are a lot. Ready? Deep breath:
ESP® Curve Dynamic Assist and Crosswind Assist, COLLISION PREVENTION ASSIST PLUS, DISTRONIC PLUS with Steering Assist, PRE-SAFE® Brake with pedestrian detection, BAS PLUS with Cross-Traffic Assist, Active Blind Spot Assist, Active Lane Keeping Assist and PRE-SAFE® PLUS, a Parking Package with 360° camera and Active Parking Assist with PARKTRONIC. And of course MAGIC VISION CONTROL which disappointingly has nothing to do with tribal ritual but rather is Mercedes-Benz's heated, adaptive windscreen wiper system. We can discuss what the rest of those mean and if you need them in the comments.
As for the name, which would be GLE 450 AMG 4MATIC Coupe; remember that all Mercedes SUVs are "Gsomethingsomething's now. G is still the (in)famous G-Wagen. GLA is the tiniest "SUV" in the line. GLC is the slightly-less tiny one formerly known as GLK.
Now GLE being the old M-Class, or ML-Class if you like, the GLE Coupe must logically be the equivalent of an E-Class Coupe in the M-Class range, now known as the Gxx range. Duh.
Images via Mercedes-Benz