The Mercedes-Benz GLE450 AMG Coupe is One Genre Busting SUV You Can’t Ignore
Car manufacturers sometimes like to mess with the buying public when it comes to naming the products in their range, if you ask me. Take the Mercedes-Benz ML Class, for example (actually, you can’t, because it no longer exists). When it did, it was the BMW X5’s rival; then Mercedes decided to do away with it and replace it with the GLE Class, with the ‘GL’ badge now reserved for all its 4×4 and crossover products (GLA, GLC, GLE, GLS). The car on this page is a GLE — but it doesn’t look anything like the standard GLE, because it’s a GLE Coupe. A coupe, by the way, is a car with two doors and a fixed roof – but the GLE Coupe has four doors. It’s also an AMG version that’s not quite an AMG version. All clear on the concept? Of course you are.
Let’s set aside the alphabet soup, though, mainly because I don’t fully comprehend it myself. The GLE450 AMG is a car that exists solely because of the BMW X6, which was the first ‘four-door coupe’ SUV – its distinguishing feature is its backward-swept roof. The X6 was (and is) a hit, so Mercedes-Benz couldn’t quite help leaping into this very niche segment as well. In doing so, they’ve created one of the handsomest premium SUVs you can buy — I daresay it’s better looking than the Porsche Cayenne and the Audi Q7, for example. The GLE Coupe looks really good from the back, mainly because of its AMG GT-style tail lamps, and in profile, it has an imposing, weighty presence, helped in no small measure by those enormous wheels. The mesh grille in front is almost fishing-net like in size, and although the headlamps are somewhat bland (they could be off virtually any Mercedes), the net result of this coupe transformation is an SUV that looks unique enough to attract the moneyed crowd.
Remember how I said this is a ‘not-quite AMG’ AMG? Here’s the rub of it — there’s plenty of AMG body kit, but the engine itself isn’t a fullblown, hand-built AMG unit, like the 5.5-litre, 550 bhp V8 in the balls-to-the wall GLE63 AMG. The GLE450 makes do with a relatively ‘small’ 3-litre V6, putting out 362 bhp and 53 kgm, and although your hair won’t be rearranged when you floor the throttle, the GLE will hunker down and sprint to 100 kph in a very respectable 5.8 seconds. Pretty much anyone who buys this car in India will be chauffeur— driven, so it’s highly unlikely that this number will ever be tested, unless the chauffeur is the designated getaway driver. Suffice to say that there’s more than enough power in this SUV, and a pretty decent soundtrack as well, although it simply can’t match the full-throated roar of the V8. The 9-speed gearbox is well suited to this engine, reacting quickly to a kick-down, and the hugely tall top two gear ratios allow you to effortlessly cruise at triple-digit highway speeds (until you come across the next idiot doing 50 kph in the top lane, that is); in stop-go city traffic, the ‘box feels only slightly laggy. The brakes, predictably, have enough stopping power to keep you right side up.
SUVs of this size feel slightly like mobile studio apartments, so there’s no point expecting them to handle like terriers chasing rats. Its huge tyres will grip themselves around corners without fuss, and when you execute high velocity lanechange manoeuvres, the GLE is well planted on the road, but it does wallow and rock a bit from side to side, something you can blame on the fact that its suspension has been tuned for comfort — it soaks up potholes and bumps very well indeed, and its high ground clearance means that you won’t have to worry about the hillocksized speedbreakers that are littered all over India.
The cabin, in typical Mercedes fashion, is the sort of place that says “My owner has spent a lot of money on me, and it was (probably) worth it.” There are plenty of bits from the regular GLE in there, but the seats are sportier and there’s really only room for four adults – whoever sits in the middle of the rear seat is the one clutching the short straw. That said, the Coupe’s sloping roof doesn’t meddle with headroom, and there’s a generous amount of leg and knee room too. Every other mod-con is present, and the swathe of safety features means that you’re safe as a house in this car, not least because it’s almost as large as an average house in Mumbai. For Rs 86.4 lakh (ex-Mumbai), the GLE Coupe is a wallet-lightening way to stand well out of the crowd, but if you’re reading this, you don’t really give a toss about a light wallet, do you?