Mercedes-Benz GLE 450 AMG coupé Review

Words: Anand Mohan

Photography: Gaurav S Thombre

Back in 2007, it was sacrilegious to call a car bearing such a silhouette a coupé. It’s the year the first generation BMW X6 concept broke cover and BMW termed it a Sport Activity (hush) Coupé. It was successful enough for BMW to continue with the line and critics have made peace with the fact that this kind of vehicle is here to stay. After more than half a decade of no competition in the segment, there’s now a Mercedes rival to the X6 – the GLE Coupé. The SUV in these pictures is not just any GLE Coupé though, it’s a turbocharged petrol V6-powered GLE with a small dollop of AMG nuttery to take on the diesel BMW X6 40d.

All new?

It’s a close sibling of the GLE SUV, which itself is an update to what used to be called the ML-Class. The platform is common, the dashboard is identical but the seats are more supportive to go with its AMG credentials. The GLE Coupé will be offered initially only with a petrol 3.0-litre turbocharged V6 mated to the new 9-speed torque converter we first experienced in the GLE SUV. The 450 AMG is the first of many ‘AMG Sport’ sub-lines that will feature in other models in the Mercedes line-up in the future. It’s an initiation into the AMG clan with an experience half as potent as the ones you’d get behind the wheel of a 45 AMG. It’s for those who want a fast car that doesn’t demand the commitment to drive fast all the time.

Will it turn heads?

The roofline is obviously different to the SUV, sloping towards the rear in a gentle curve that makes the Coupé look a lot tighter and, dare I say it, sportier. The GLE coupé is more pleasing to the eye when seen in the flesh and the imposing stance gives it the presence its SUV sibling can’t match. Our test car came with 21 inch wheels on fat 275 section fronts and 315 rears. Cool but definitely horsepower sapping footprint was my initial opinion. Oh boy was I wrong, but more on that later!

What else?

There’s a small AMG badge on the front fenders, the muscular alloy wheels are designed by AMG and the floor mats get AMG branding. You won’t find a plaque on the engine cover of the engine builder and you won’t hear the deep growl one associates with an AMG. Five driving modes allow you to alter the powertrain, suspension and steering’s response. Sport+ is the one you’ve got to be in to enjoy a light burble from the exhausts and trigger the mandatory drop of fuel-burn for the pops you hear off-throttle.

How quick?

You get 362bhp and 520Nm to play with. Official figures quote a 0-100kmph run in 5.7 seconds and a top speed of 250kmph. What we can tell you is that it is fast in an unhurried way. Don’t expect much drama as the fat Pirellis bite into the tarmac and chug the 2.2 tonne gentle giant forward with the kind of nonchalance you don’t expect of it. You will be way north of 100kmph before you hit fourth gear with your right foot buried in or in ninth gear at 120kmph with the engine speed a shade under 2000rpm. It’s versatile and that’s what I like about the GLE 450 AMG. If the need arises, the fantastic 9-speeder can drop four cogs at an instant. It’s not as hard-edged as the 7-speed AMG Speedshift unit though, clearly to differentiate between the ‘Sport’ and core AMG models.

Fun to drive?

Despite the fat rubber, all-wheel drive and adjustable suspension, weight comes in the way of the thrill of driving. It’s fast in a straight line and tracks long sweeping corners with poise. But show it the tighter stuff and the GLE begins to complain. Limits of grip on the sticky Pirellis are easy to find at about the time when the electronics keep the SUV in check. You will still choose a C 63 AMG  to drive down your favourite winding road, but in all other situations, the GLE 450 AMG is good fun. Ride height can be lowered by 15mm in sport and 50mm in Sport+ mode so out on the highway when you want to scare the hatchback community, drop it low and fireball your way through.

Easy on the pocket?

We estimate an ex-showroom price tag of a shade under Rs 1 crore. The X6 40d costs Rs 1.15 crore so if Mercedes can undercut its diesel rival, we think it will be (relatively) easy on that very deep pocket.

Good value?

I can think of at least a dozen alternatives to park my Rs 1 crore on if I had the money, but that’s just me. If you are one who likes the crossover/coupé styling and wants a fast car with a petrol motor, there is value to the purchase. The GLE 450 AMG is versatile, easy to drive and fast when you want it to be. It’s got the presence of a car you’d pay a crore of rupees to get.

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