Originally published June 23, 2015
Review by Jacob Black, photos by Jacob Black and courtesy of Mercedes-Benz.
Thick fog blankets the distant mountain peaks, gentle rain glistens on the rounded rumps of the beast before me. Its rear section cuts down early, rounding off under the tail for an unusual and athletic stance. The subtle grey paint seems to both blend with the overcast backdrop and stand apart from it. You might miss it the first time, but not the second. The overwhelming atmosphere is one of intrigue – so this is the GLE Coupe then?
BMW has almost had those buyers to itself with the X4 and X6, Acura barely making a dent with its short-lived ZDX, but now Mercedes-Benz has very much arrived on the scene.This style-first fastback design is sweeping the auto industry lately, and while there is a large and loud fleet of detractors, the things keep selling.
The 2016 Mercedes-Benz GLE is the replacement for the ML, and the GLE Coupe has been added to diversify the options. Big on style and now with a sportier focus than ever, the GLE still promises to deliver on the comfort front as well. There is a host of engines – diesel, gasoline and – if we’re really, really lucky in Canada – a plug-in hybrid too.
There’s a new gearbox with more gears – nine in total now – to cope with more power and more torque. The new coupe body profiles will share three of the available engines with the “regular” GLE: a diesel, a hyped-up gas engine and the raucous AMG 63 S powerplant.
The regular Mercedes-Benz trappings are all apparent. Things like rich, luxurious interior materials with plenty of dark, porous wood available, brushed aluminum and heavy-feeling switch gear. The large 8.0-inch infotainment screen has vibrant graphics and the instrument cluster is similarly detailed and elegant with a large TFT providing full-colour graphics in between the attractive conventional gauges.
The seats are beautifully quilted leather and look fantastic in white on black. All-black editions begin to look a little sombre until you open the panoramic sunroof cover. The stitched-leather steering wheel is thick and comfortable in your hands and the driving position high and commanding.
Out on the road there are Alpine-retreat levels of quiet and calm with the bare minimum intrusion of road noise, wind noise or engine noise. Touring the lush-green countryside, the grey mountains penetrating thick clouds in the distance, one finds oneself growing calm, peaceful even. This is my type of relaxation.
As I think those thoughts, I’m at the wheel of a 350d 4Matic, the diesel trim most Canadian GLEs will arrive in. There was a more raucous, aggressive 2016 Mercedes-Benz GLE AMG 63 S underneath me earlier, scoffing as I toyed with the pedal that connected me to its 561 lb-ft, 585-hp 5.5L biturbo V8 – but more on that another day.
The diesel fitted here is a 3.0L V6 turbodiesel with 258 hp and 457 lb-ft of torque. It’s the least potent of the lineup but feels the nicest mated to the nine-speed 9G-Tronic transmission. This is an all-new transmission from Mercedes-Benz and feels a little poorly matched to the 400 4Matic I drove earlier in the day. Not to worry, that 333 hp/354 lb-ft twin-turbo V6 will be short-lived in Canada, replaced by the 450 AMG 4Matic, a 367 and 384 lb-ft tweak of the same engine.