Fancy a big SUV with a difference? Then you'll be curious to know all about the 2020 Mercedes GLE Coupe. It's significantly better to look at and to drive than before and, if you tick the right options boxes and choose the right diesel engine, it could be all the GLE that most people need.
In the metal
Though the new Mercedes GLE Coupe is 60mm shorter in the wheelbase than the regular GLE SUV, that's 20mm longer than before. It's also 39mm longer overall than the first-generation GLE Coupe, and 7mm wider. Oddly, it doesn't look as wide, as the new car is better proportioned and less bulbous at the back. Indeed, it could be mistaken for a Mercedes GLC Coupe at times. The car we are testing here is in AMG Line specification, with optional running boards on the sides, and we'd highly recommend buyers of the new GLE Coupe to consider this, as it looks far better than the standard model.
Inside, the GLE Coupe is very similar to that of the less sporty looking variant. So, the excellent widescreen 'MBUX' infotainment system is present and correct, as is the imposing looking dashboard design. The Coupe gets Artico (man-made leather) trim over the top of this as standard, along with sports seats and a sports steering wheel. Getting into the back is easier than in the old GLE Coupe thanks to enlarged door openings, and there's more interior storage than before, too. We love the optional panoramic sliding sunroof, which has more glazed area than it used to, but be aware that it robs the cabin of headroom. The sloping roof obviously plays its part in that, too, though Mercedes has managed to make the new car's boot larger and better shaped than before. Naturally, and unlike the standard GLE, the Coupe cannot be had with a third row of seats.
We've experienced the straight-six 3.0-litre Mercedes turbodiesel before, in '350' guise in the S-Class, and it really is a brilliant powerplant. It mixes eerie smoothness and quietness on a cruise with effortless performance, shrugging off the considerable weight of the GLE Coupe. In '400' tune, there's a significant 330hp and 700Nm of torque produced, which is more than anyone needs. The nine-speed automatic gearbox is a good partner to this, sending power to all four wheels as necessary. There's little or no need to ever manually override the transmission's calibration, making the GLE 400 d both satisfying and relaxing to drive, regardless of the conditions.
Our enjoyment of this car was augmented no doubt by the fitment of the most advanced chassis system available to GLE Coupe buyers: E-Active Body Control. This improves further the optional Airmatic air suspension system with a 48-volt-driven motor/pump at each wheel to actively dampen out unwanted movements. In fact, choose the 'Curve' setting and it can even tilt the body up to three degrees into a corner. And while you can't feel that happening, there's no doubt that this system is highly effective. It makes the GLE Coupe astoundingly capable, through corners and over bumps, making it much more gratifying to drive than versions without it. If this is offered as an option here, seriously consider ticking it.
What you get for your money
We don't have fully confirmed Irish pricing for the Mercedes GLE Coupe as yet, but we do know that it'll command a premium of 10-15 per cent over the SUV version. That car starts at €78,965 for the GLE 300 d, but we're not sure if the 300 d's four-cylinder engine will be offered in the Coupe. Next up is the GLE 350 d, expected to be the biggest seller. In Coupe guise, we estimate a starting price close to €95,000, while the GLE 400 d Coupe in AMG Line spec won't be far off €120,000.
Well-heeled buyers that want a premium SUV with less emphasis on the 'utility' part of the equation are spoiled for choice in the marketplace. The Mercedes GLE Coupe eclipses its rather awkward looking predecessor in terms of attractiveness (especially if you tick the right options boxes) and isn't hugely less spacious than a regular SUV. In '400 d' specification it makes a very good argument for modern diesel power and it all works particularly well when you spend a little more on upgrading the chassis.