In-depth reviews

Mercedes GLE Coupe review

Style and substance means the new Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe is a worthy rival to the BMW X6

Overall Auto Express Rating

3.0 out of 5

  • Distinctive looks, upmarket interior, powerful engines
  • High running costs, poor visibility, expensive to buy

Mercedes’ GLE Coupe is a rival to the swoopy BMW X6 SUV and follows the same recipe of coupe-like styling in an SUV body. This car takes the regular GLE 4x4 – the model that replaced the old ML – and turns it into a more stylish four-door coupe on stilts, combining image, practicality, off-road ability and performance.

There are only three engines to choose from, ranging from the entry-level 350d V6 diesel, to the 450 V6 petrol and the top of the line AMG GLE 63 S that uses Mercedes’ 5.5-litre twin-turbo V8 engine.

All are great units, but it’s the 350d that’ll be the most popular, offering the best blend of performance and efficiency in the real world. The trio offers plenty of refinement, too.

With plenty of tech and equipment served up from the GLE Coupe, this plush 4x4 offers all the luxury you expect from a high-end Mercedes. Even in the entry-level AMG Line trim, sat-nav, leather, heated seats, adaptive air suspension, 21-inch alloy wheels, a DAB radio and a reversing camera come fitted as standard, so you won’t want when it comes to gadgets.

Best 4x4s and SUVs to buy

There’s another trim level to choose from on the 350d and 450 petrol – called designo Line. This retains the AMG body kit but adds some extra design touches inside and out, as well as an upgraded equipment specification. Porcelain upholstery and black wood trim set the cabin of nicely, while a 360-degree camera makes manoeuvring even easier.

Pricing for the range reflects the GLE Coupe’s exclusive nature, but the entry-level model here is significantly more expensive than the equivalent BMW X6 – and the BMW’s 30d 3.0-litre six-cylinder turbodiesel engine is even more efficient and slightly more powerful.

Still, the GLE Coupe is a strong first effort at a rakish, coupe-like SUV from Mercedes.

Our choice: GLE 350d AMG Line

Engines, performance and drive

The 3.0-litre V6 turbodiesel in the 350d puts out 255bhp and an impressive 620Nm of torque at just 1,600rpm. This means there’s lots of low-down response from the engine with minimal turbo lag, so the GLE Coupe is good around town and away from the lights.

You can rev the engine harder and it’s up to the task. It produces a pleasing rumble as the revs rise, and for a big turbodiesel it charges hard at the top end, meaning the GLE Coupe is nice to push faster when the time is right. The 0-62mph sprint takes 7.0 seconds, while top speed stands at 140mph.

If you want even more performance, though, opt for the GLE 450. This 3.0-litre V6 puts out 362bhp and 520Nm of torque. It accelerates from 0-62mph in 5.7 seconds and will carry on going until it hits 155mph.

For real driving enthusiasts, the AMG GLE 63 S offers incredible straight-line performance. The older 5.5-litre twin-turbo V8 engine pushes out 577bhp and a colossal 760Nm of torque – this results in a 0-62mph time of just 4.2 seconds, making it faster than some out-and-out sports cars. Top speed is limited to 155mph.

It’s this AMG model that’s the most agile, but stiffer suspension and huge 22-inch wheels mean the ride is on the firm side. If you’re after more comfort, the standard chassis in the GLE 350d or 450 is the one to go for.

All cars get Mercedes’ Drive Select system as standard, as well as Airmatic adapative suspension. There are three modes to choose from using the knob on the transmissions tunnel, including Slippery, Comfort and Sport – although the 450 and 63 S get an extra Sport + mode.

Changing these settings also alters the weight of the steering, throttle response and firmness of the suspension. In Comfort mode the GLE Coupe rides quite nicely, although there is a firm edge to the damping. Ramp things up to Sport or Sport+ and the subtle extra focus the GLE Coupe takes on is noticeable. It helps control the GLE Coupe’s big body better, reducing roll, but unfortunately it comes at the expense of ride comfort, as the car is more upset by big bumps and takes longer to settle down over broken roads.

The steering also weights up, which gives a reassuring feeling of solidity, but there’s very little feel in either the Comfort or Sport settings.

MPG, CO2 and Running Costs

Not only is the GLE Coupe more expensive to buy than the BMW X6, it’s also less powerful and not as efficient if you opt for the entry-level versions.

The 350d returns 39.2mpg combined on paper with 187g/km CO2, which is some way down on the 47.1mpg and 157g/km CO2 of the X6 xDrive30d.

Things get worse from here as the GLE 450 returns 31.7mpg and 209g/km CO2, and as you’d expect from an AMG with a huge V8 engine, the 63 S returns best figures of 23.7mpg and 278g/km CO2, meaning it’ll be costly to run.

Interior, design and technology

Large 4x4s like the GLE Coupe often split opinion when it comes to styling. This car’s vast dimensions means it does look massive on the road, but Mercedes’ designers have done well to try and hide its bulk with some neat design tricks.

At the front the swoopy GLE fits in with the brand’s current design. There are a pair of swept-back headlight clusters, and with the AMG-inspired body kit, some deep air vents and a more sculpted profile.

Down the sides of the car the Coupe isn’t quite as bold, but the arcing roofline means it does stand out. With black plastic claddings for the squared-off wheel arches and the side sills, it still has plenty of visual impact and looks every inch the rugged SUV with its high window line and jacked-up ride height.

Things are more subtle at the back, with narrow tail-lights taking inspiration from Mercedes’ halo supercar, the AMG GT. The heavily raked boot means the GLE Coupe has a small rear window, hampering visibility. The rear-view camera comes in handy here.

There’s a deep rear bumper, which houses a black insert to break up the car’s visual bulk, as well as the bright exhaust tips.

Inside, the cabin feels upmarket. The upright centre console uses controls from elsewhere in the Mercedes range, but there’s nothing wrong with this as the layout is intuitive and everything works as you’d expect. However, the central tablet display and rotary controller for the multimedia system isn’t as intuitive to use as the iDrive setup in the BMW X6.

Material quality is good and the fit and finish is up to scratch in the class. However, unlike the exterior styling, the GLE Coupe isn’t quite as sporty on the inside. The layout isn’t particularly driver focused and it feels much like the regular GLE 4x4 – until you look in the rear-view mirror and see that defining characteristic, the roof.

Practicality, comfort and boot space

Most big SUVs are extremely practical thanks to their square shape and big boot, but by changing the GLE Coupe’s roofline it has had an effect on practicality compared to the regular GLE.

However, compared to its closest rival – the BMW X6 – it’s more usable. Boot space is good at 650 litres (70 litres more than the BMW). However, the big loading lip means getting items past it and into the boot could be tricky if they’re bulky or heavy. At least the standard power tailgate means you won’t have to manhandle the large hatch.

Rear legroom is good, but headroom is tighter, although even tall adults should be comfortable on long journeys. The heavily raked roof does mean you have to watch your head getting in and out though, as you climb into the high-up cabin.

The Coupe’s lines also mean that rearward visibility isn’t great, with a small rear window and a limited view over your shoulder.

Reliability and Safety

Mercedes finished 11th in our 2015 Driver Power satisfaction survey – two places down on its 2014 result. This is a better performance than its main rivals Audi and BMW (13th and 14th respectively), but still not a stellar showing. It faired worse when it came to reliability, recording a 26th place result out of 32 manufacturers.

Sharing much of its technology underneath with the old ML and other vehicles in the range, the GLE Coupe should be fairly reliable. Mercedes’ conventional 4x4 has been on sale for years now, so most problems should have been ironed out.

The GLE Coupe hasn’t been crash tested by Euro NCAP yet, but we’d expect a similar five-star rating given the impressive list of standard safety kit. Adaptive LED headlights, crosswind assist, collision prevention assist plus that will apply the brakes for you to try and avoid a crash, ESP and an active bonnet to cushion the blow in a pedestrian impact all feature.

You can also spec a driving assistance plus package, which adds blind spot and lane keep assist, brake assist and Mercedes’ pre-safe brake plus, which helps in the event of a rear-end impact.

Permanent four-wheel drive means you’ll have plenty of grip to call on in bad conditions, too.

Most Popular

Driving test update to preserve the manual gearbox
Dacia Duster gear lever
News

Driving test update to preserve the manual gearbox

With more drivers learning in autos and electric cars, the DVSA is looking to update the driving test so people can still drive manuals in future
16 Jun 2021
New Volkswagen ID.4 GTX 2021 review
Volkswagen ID.4 GTX
Volkswagen ID.4 SUV

New Volkswagen ID.4 GTX 2021 review

VW ID.4 EV gets another electric motor and four-wheel drive in hot GTX form
21 Jun 2021
New Volkswagen Caddy California 2021 review
Volkswagen Caddy California MPV - front
Volkswagen Caddy

New Volkswagen Caddy California 2021 review

It’s a family hauler and weekend camper all rolled into one, but is the Volkswagen Caddy California any good?
21 Jun 2021
New Mercedes C-Class 2021 review
Mercedes C-Class - front
Mercedes C-Class

New Mercedes C-Class 2021 review

The new Mercedes C-Class compact exec gets S-Class-inspired tech and new suspension to challenge the BMW 3 Series
21 Jun 2021
UN report highlights ethical problems with electric cars
Electric car charging
News

UN report highlights ethical problems with electric cars

Analysis reveals lithium refining takes 65 per cent of Chilean region’s water, while 40,000 child miners dig for cobalt in DRC
14 Jun 2021
Fiat 500 vs MINI Electric vs Honda e
Fiat 500 vs Honda e vs MINI Electric
Car group tests

Fiat 500 vs MINI Electric vs Honda e

The new Fiat 500, MINI Electric and Honda e are three retro-inspired electric superminis - but which is best?
19 Jun 2021
New 2021 Peugeot 308 SW estate arrives with more space
Peugeot 308 SW - front
News

New 2021 Peugeot 308 SW estate arrives with more space

The Peugeot 308 SW joins the hatchback in the range and arrives with two plug-in hybrid options
22 Jun 2021
New Audi Q4 e-tron 2021 review
Audi Q4 e-tron 2021  front
Audi Q4 e-tron

New Audi Q4 e-tron 2021 review

We get involved with the new all-electric Audi Q4 e-tron SUV on UK roads for the first time
17 Jun 2021
New Dacia Duster facelift launched with fresh styling and more tech
Dacia Duster facelift - front
Dacia Duster

New Dacia Duster facelift launched with fresh styling and more tech

The budget-conscious Dacia Duster has been updated for 2021 with some subtle design tweaks and a new eight-inch infotainment screen
22 Jun 2021
New Skoda Enyaq iV 2021 review
Skoda Enyaq iV 80 Sportline - front
Skoda Enyaq

New Skoda Enyaq iV 2021 review

The new Skoda Enyaq iV is the Czech firm’s first bespoke electric car and we've tested the full range on UK roads
10 Jun 2021
‘The 2030 combustion engine ban is just around the corner – and we’re running out of time’
opinion: charging
Opinion

‘The 2030 combustion engine ban is just around the corner – and we’re running out of time’

Andy Palmer sees electric car uptake revving-up in the UK but says targeted investment is needed to prevent a stall…
22 Jun 2021
Ineos Grenadier prototype 2022 review
Ineos Grenadier prototype
Ineos Grenadier 4x4

Ineos Grenadier prototype 2022 review

Can the Ineos Grenadier really fill the mud-splattered void left by the old Land Rover Defender? We take a first drive in a prototype to find out...
15 Jun 2021
'A top footballer works minutes for his car, but the average worker must graft for 12 months'
Opinion - average car
Opinion

'A top footballer works minutes for his car, but the average worker must graft for 12 months'

Mike Rutherford says it's increasingly easy for them, and far harder for us, to earn enough for our new cars
20 Jun 2021
New Nissan Qashqai 2021 review
Nissan Qashqai 2021
Nissan Qashqai

New Nissan Qashqai 2021 review

We get behind the wheel of the larger, more comfortable and higher-tech Nissan Qashqai SUV in the UK
16 Jun 2021