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2016 Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe First Drive Review

Motor Trend logo Motor Trend 6/22/2015 Scott Burgess

2016 Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe First Drive Review Not every vehicle should make sense to everyone. The Mercedes-Benz Unimog makes perfect sense to me, but to many others I suspect it doesn't. The same could be said of the Hummer H1, Trabant and, even, Ford's Edsel brand.

The new 2016 Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe falls into that category. With both U.S.-spec versions wearing Mercedes' AMG badge, these big sporty machines have four doors, a spacious hatch and uncomfortable seating for second-row passengers who will be holding on for dear life as the driver flogs the SUV through every corner.

Following BMW's international success with the X6, Mercedes has created two SUV coupes that live up to hype that these kinds of machines offer.

First is the true AMG, the 2016 Mercedes-AMG GLE63 S 4Matic Coupe. It's the kind of vehicle that defies traditional definitions. It's gangly but sophisticated. It's powerfully raw but refined. It's chunky but sleek all at the same time. The 2016 Mercedes-Benz GLE450 AMG 4Matic Coupe continues that theme but with fewer calories and horsepower. It's Tab to the GLE63's Coke goodness.

Research all the new models from Mercedes-Benz on MSN Autos

2016 Mercedes Benz GLE450 AMG 4Matic Coupe Front Three Quarter In Motion 06© Provided by MotorTrend 2016 Mercedes Benz GLE450 AMG 4Matic Coupe Front Three Quarter In Motion 06
Both models wear the coupe tag to convey that additional sportiness that four doors just didn't allow before. In the past, a second set of doors meant the chassis would lack the sporty stiffness that let a driver maintain more control at higher speeds. That time has long gone as technology, better materials, and much more creative solutions combine to create extremely stiff and responsive underpinnings.

Both "coupes" come with the Mercedes Dynamic Select system that adjusts the suspension, chassis, steering, engine, and transmission shifting. There are four different settings ranging from Comfort to Sport+. The difference in ride and handling is quite noticeable from one setting to the next. The standard air suspension means the vehicle can adjust to every bump and curve quickly, as well as lift the vehicle when off-roading, even if going off road means parking on grass at an art fair.

Overall, the GLE Coupe's regular Sport mode was my favorite, which gave a compliant ride without being too stiff. The Sport+ setting was, as expected, very aggressive, though the adjustment to the engine sound was breathtakingly satisfying as the V-8 in the GLE63 popped and burbled when you pulled your foot off the accelerator.

2016 Mercedes Benz GLE450 AMG 4Matic Coupe Engine 01© Provided by MotorTrend 2016 Mercedes Benz GLE450 AMG 4Matic Coupe Engine 01 In the Comfort setting the steering felt too numb and not very responsive in either GLE Coupe. You never could feel the road, and due to the vehicle's wide stance, it was more difficult to cleanly go through any big corner without sawing at the wheel. Drivers can change the steering settings and stiffen it up, but it still feels artificial.

But man, can this thing scoot. The turbocharged V-8 in the GLE63 S 4Matic Coupe creates 577 horsepower and 561 lb-ft of torque. It launches this 5,200-pound SUV with near-neck-breaking power. Mercedes estimates it can go from 0-60 mph in 4.2 seconds and there's no reason to doubt that figure. On the German autobahn, I hit 146 mph without any problem. There was still more power left in the tank but not enough room on the road. The 3.0-liter twin-turbo V-6 in the GLE450 AMG 4Matic Coupe is also quite powerful, producing 362 horsepower and 384 lb-ft of torque.

2016 Mercedes AMG GLE63 S 4Matic Coupe Front Three Quarter In Motion 01© Provided by MotorTrend 2016 Mercedes AMG GLE63 S 4Matic Coupe Front Three Quarter In Motion 01 Furthermore, Mercedes all-wheel-drive system, known as 4Matic, gives these coupes a rear-wheel bias, splitting the power 40/60 front/rear. Driving through the twisty mountain roads of southern Germany and Austria, all of the GLEs I drove with the 4Matic system stuck to the road and pulled out of corners extremely fast. Braking was very linear and firm, even at high speeds, but I did not have a chance to test it after extreme driving.

Both SUVs handle like sports cars during straight-line cruising at speeds over 100 mph. They feel heavy but very stable. The ride is quiet and the only noise you hear is from the exhaust, which will likely turn more heads than anything else about the AMG models. Right now, the best sounding V-8s come from Europe. Additionally, the nine-speed automatic transmission in the GLE450 is fantastic, always knowing the right gear at the right moment (the GLE63 gets a seven-speed auto).

The GLE Coupe exterior design is certainly unique, with a distinctive fastback roof and aggressive curves. Both coupes have overly aggressive front ends with big air intakes and a Mercedes badge as big as a Frisbee. They ride on 21- or 22-inch wheels that help give the SUVs better proportions, making them look like oversized cars.

2016 Mercedes AMG GLE63 S 4Matic Coupe Cabin© Provided by MotorTrend 2016 Mercedes AMG GLE63 S 4Matic Coupe Cabin The interiors are equally nice, extending an upscale Mercedes feel throughout the cabin. There is lots of carbon fiber trim, hand-stitched leather, and a beautiful instrument panel. Additionally, if you want more gauges, you can adjust the center stack's display screen to add more. Lots of little cubbies can store things, or at least hold them in place when driving hard.

The three-spoke leather-wrapped steering feels thick in your hands but is also small. The GLE63 includes sport seats that are nicely bolstered but I found the GLE450's seats more comfortable.

The list of standard and optional features is also impressive. From adaptive cruise control and a bird's eye view multi-camera system to Mercedes' legendary pre-safety systems and the optional Bang & Olufsen BeoSound surround sound system. It's fantastic.

These SUVs cater to all of the luxury needs a customer might want and answers many questions people have never asked. The GLE Coupe is comfortable, quiet, and powerful, whether you have the turbocharged V-6 or that wonderful V-8 under the hood.

The fact that they are not actually coupes doesn't really matter. Those few who understand what the GLE Coupe offers will be quite content to roll down the road in comfort while going really fast.

2016 Mercedes Benz GLE450 AMG 4Matic Coupe Infotainment Display Screen

2016 Mercedes Benz GLE450 AMG 4Matic Coupe Infotainment Display Screen
© Provided by MotorTrend


2016 Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class Coupe
BASE PRICE$75,000 - $110,000 (est)
VEHICLE LAYOUTFront-engine, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door SUV
ENGINES3.0L/362-hp/384-lb-ft twin-turbo DOHC 24-valve V-6; 5.5L/577-hp/561-lb-ft twin-turbo DOHC 32-valve V-8
TRANSMISSIONS7-speed automatic, 9-speed automatic
CURB WEIGHT4,900-5,200 lb (mfr)
WHEELBASE114.8 in
LENGTH X WIDTH X HEIGHT192.6-193.6 x 78.9 x 67.6-67.7 in
0-60 MPH4.2-5.6 sec (mfr est)
EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECONNot yet rated
ON SALE IN U.S.Fall, 2015

2016 Mercedes Benz GLE450 AMG Coupe© Provided by MotorTrend 2016 Mercedes Benz GLE450 AMG Coupe
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