Mercedes-Benz has claimed a massive fan base in India, with a build royalty that few brands have ever displayed before. Although its niche of over-extraordinary luxury models have wooed countless enthusiasts in the country, the brand is constantly reinvigorating its flavour of build to cater to newer generations. A hand-picked example of this ever-flowing state of evolving architecture is the Coupe version of the premium SUV model, GLE. Here is a vehicle that combines two systems of design that are supposed to be at odds with each other. On one hand, the Coupe brings a masculine and powerful visual figure to the mind of the viewer, seeming to cast its menace over any street where it prowls. At the same time, it has been effectively undercut with softer, plush themes, giving it a well balanced, feminine theme. making it easier for you to understand where this vehicle scores big and where it loses out.
DESIGN AND STYLE ;
As you might expect, the new GLE43 looks quite similar to the outgoing GLE400. In front, we see a comparable fascia, with downturned headlights set with daytime running lights across the top of the housings. Between the headlights is a fine black mesh grille divided by two sets of twin wings that stretch across the horizontal plane.The lower bumper was tweaked a bit, with enlarged intakes and a sharper lower lip the appears to hug the ground a little more tightly. The brushed-metal look skid plate is retained, offsetting the lowest edge of the crossover. Up top, the hood gets the same drawn back character lines as before, suggesting a sinewy, muscle-bound pose.To my eye, the front end still has that characteristic SUV “boldness,” but presents itself with a little more sportiness than before.
Moving to the flanks, the aesthetic is more or less a carryover. The shoulder line and lower character line lend it a bit of a visual rake, drawing the eye back towards the plumped-up rear fenders. Per SUV tradition, the roofline is flat and straight, unlike its coupe sibling, and the hatch forms hard angles that drop into the rear. The taillights once again wrap around into the fenders using horizontal graphics. Above are brushed metal-look roof rails.The wheels shown in these press images depict an open five-spoke design, which is similar in appearance to the rollers used on the outgoing GLE models, albeit a bit larger. Sizing looks like it comes in at 20 or 21 inches in diameter.Speaking of sizing, we expect the AMG GLE43 to have the identical curb weight and dimensions as the GLE400. For reference, we’ve provided that information in the table below.
CABIN AND COMFORT ;
The interiors of the Mercedes GLE 450 AMG are the standard fare ones seen on the normal GLE. It goes without saying, quality is top notch everywhere and finding even one substandard quality button is difficult. The black interiors add that touch of sportiness but at the same time make the interiors feel less roomy. Again, like the exteriors, the interiors do not have AMG branding at any place which does make one feel a little odd. An AMG branded steering wheel or AMG badging on the dashboard would have been a nice touch.
The rear seats are good for two passengers however legroom and headroom is at a slight premium. The sloping roofline is to be blamed for the slight lack of headroom. The front seats are scooped to give that extra bit of room to the rear passengers. However, this car isn’t the one for primarily chauffeur driven customers. It is more suited to the ones who drive themselves. Like most European cars, the boot is very spacious and with the spare wheel neatly tucked in under the boot floor, there’s nothing to eat into the boot space either.
The infotainment system screen is well integrated into the dashboard and doesn’t look out of place as is the case with some cars from Mercedes-Benz. However, in the age of touch-screens, it is surprising that the GLE 450 doesn’t get one. Instead, one has to use the buttons located on the centre console and it does take some time getting used to. There are five driving modes – Winter, Comfort, Sport, Sport+ and Individual. Another neat trick is the 180 degree camera which is particularly useful while parking the car as the rearward visibility isn’t too good.
ENGINE AND GEARBOX ;
The 2996cc twin turbo petrol unit under the hood of the GLE coupe is a collection of some of Merc’s best high-tech features, all roped in to create one fine package. It is a reduced capacity iteration of Merc’s old 3.5-litre V6 which did duty in the E350. The engine’s bore and stroke have changed from 92.6 x 86.0mm to 88.0 x 82.1mm. This motor features variable valve timing, direct injection and two turbochargers. It uses third generation piezo injectors from Bosch and they can open five times per firing cycle and are precisely controlled to burn only the exact amount of fuel required according to the throttle position, gear position, engine and road speed. Making 362bhp and 520Nm of torque from as low 2000rpm this motor delivers instant responses.
Step on the accelerator and the motor feels smooth and well-balanced. There is loads of grunt from the word go and the motor makes light work of the 2270kg kerb weight. At full throttle the motor comes in its own and it pushes you back in the well padded seats as it gains speed in a linear manner. Take-off is very strong and thanks to the 315 section rear tyres traction is unbelievable. As a result, performance figures are more than impressive. Acceleration from rest takes you to 100kph in one seamless rush and it just takes 6.02 seconds. Keep the throttle pinned down another seven seconds and you’ll snarl past 150kph! What makes all this power so accessible is that the new 9-speed automatic works well with this motor. It shifts seamlessly in comfort mode and the gearshifts become fast enough in sport mode for spirited driving. With all that power, what’s also impressive is that stability around long corners is fantastic too. The long wheelbase, wide stance and wide tyres give it huge amounts of grip, and there’s almost no shifting around, even at really high speeds. The Coupe also has the ability to sit calmly on the road even with the speedo wound all the way around. In the tighter stuff all that girth can get a bit unnerving initially. But with more time behind the wheel you realise that this Merc is quite adept in this environment too. Of course, there’s no getting away from all that mass, especially when it comes to successive corners and the brakes take a hammering too if you drive it hard for a considerable period of time. So while this is no Porsche Macan, it surprisingly still is a fun car to drive hard.
RIDE AND HANDLING ;
What’s immediately likeable about the GLE 450 is that every ride is not going to conclude with a potential visit to the chiropractor unlike a certain smaller AMG SUV. The GLE 450 rides on self levelling air suspension that has been tuned to feel closer to a full AMG rather than a run-of-the-mill GLE. It’s quite supple in Comfort mode but nowhere close to as soft as a stock GLE. As you move into Sport mode, the suspension drops by 15mm and becomes a little firmer while Sport+ lowers it by a whole 55mm and firms it up even more. Pleasantly, even Sport+ isn’t rock hard and I found it quite a joy to use on the smooth road to Aamby Valley.With 275-section tyres up front and gigantic 325-section rears, the GLE 450 AMG Coupe has a huge amount of traction. With so much grip and all-wheel drive, traction control almost never cuts in, but when it does it cuts power significantly until the system thinks the car is back under control. The ESP system in this car is tuned more like that of a standard road car and when engaged, it is more intrusive than something you’d find on an AMG sportscar. It is a very large car though and can only hide its mass so much. After a few minutes of hard driving, I found the brake pedal starting to get soft in the battle to slow the beast down. The GLE is very fast but prefers to flow through the corners rather than piling in at maximum speed and torturing the brakes at every bend.The GLE 450 is comfortable enough in the real world and offers a commanding view in traffic that reduces some of the anxiety of driving such a big vehicle in a city like Mumbai. It has practical ground clearance and even has a Lift mode in the air suspension if the need to off-road ever arises. On the highway, it settles into a steady cruise but has a tendency to transfer the impact of a pothole or bump from one side of the car to the other. It’s a strange sideways jig that doesn’t change the car’s line but can definitely be felt by the passengers. It is most prevalent in Comfort mode and is one of the only issues I have with the way the GLE 450 drives.
We were quite impressed with the range of facilities that the brand had incorporated to shield its occupants. From airbags to strong seatbelts to advanced aid programs such as downhill speed regulator, brake assist and many others, the car enables its occupants to enjoy a safe and peaceful ride. Out of the ordinary facilities such as reversing cameras, parking assists, an electric parking brake and many others also inundate the driver, making sure that no stone is left unturned in terms of providing a secure ride.
The GLE450 AMG Sport Coupe is a tough car to critique. On one side, you have that gorgeous body and good handling as positives. And on the other hand you have the well made but slightly boring interiors along with the firm and jittery ride as partial negatives. But being automotive journalists first and petrol heads a close second, we are willing to forgive these small follies in the light of what is possibly one of the better petrol engines we have driven in a while. And come to think of it, the GLE450 is a great value for money product too with its nearest competition, the BMW X6 priced almost Rs 30 lakh more. The final verdict is quite clear. The GLE450 AMG Sport coupe is not for everyone. But for those who want something different that will stand out is a sea of grey, black and white luxury SUVs, it is the perfect alternative!