Brimstone Head, Fogo is considered one of the four corners of the globe by the Flat Earth Society. The island itself is home to over 2,000 full-time residents; down considerably from years past when cod stocks were at their peak. Fishing is making a slow comeback, so too the population; especially now that celebrated Fogo Island Inn is open for business. So it seemed a fitting locale to introduce the 2016 Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe, a new creation from the originator of the automobile who, like the industry as a whole, is bent on taking advantage of today’s hot SUV market.
Three models are available in Canada at this time. The majority of my test drive takes place in the 2016 Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe 450 AMG 4MATIC. It features a 3.0L V6 with 4-valves per cylinder and direct injection. Developed by the team at AMG, it delivers with 362 horsepower at 5,500-6,000 rpm and 384 lb-ft of toque at 1,800-4,000 rpm. Matched to a 9-speed G-TRONIC transmission, this coupe accelerates from 0-100 km/h in 5.7 seconds and reaches a top speed of 250 km/h.
I also spend time behind the wheel of the 2016 GLE 350d 4MATIC Coupe, which was equally impressive but a little less inspiring to drive. Priced to start at $72,300, it highlights a 3.0L V6 diesel engine similarly matched to a 9-speed automatic transmission. Power numbers indicate 249 horsepower at 3,400 rpm and 457 lb-ft of torque at 1,600 rpm. Zero to 100 km/h is achieved in 7 seconds flat.
Both come equipped with 4MATIC all-wheel drive and excellent road manners. If it is fun you are looking for, I suggest the GLE Coupe 450 AMG, while the 350d would be an exceptional choice for hauling and long distance driving back and forth to the cottage. Either way, they handle city streets with ease and make short work of any blacktop two-lane or non-strenuous off-road excursion.
The third model in the line-up is the mighty 2016 Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 Coupe. It was not available for our test drive, but looks impressive with 577 horsepower and 561 lb-ft of torque. Priced at $116,500, it holds the promise of taking on some of the fastest sport utility vehicles in the market and should compare favorably with the BMW X6 M among others.
The GLE Coupe is dramatically different from the GLE SUV. Both feature four doors and tons of storage space, but the Coupe is designed to reflect the profile of a streamlined sport sedan. It achieves this with a swept-back silhouette, while at the same time featuring a longer (96 mm), wider (77 mm) and lower (28 mm) than the outgoing ML class.
The sacrifice for this sporty looking exterior is most obvious in the second row. At just over 6 feet in height, it is impossible for me to sit straight in the backseat. Slouching is an option, but I am less than comfortable and can’t image taking a long trip stationed in the back. If you typically carry four adults, I would suggest considering the GLE SUV as an alternative. This backseat is most suitable for children, or the occasional adult rear seat passenger for around town. Don’t forget to duck when getting in, the door opening is tight.
Dynamic Select allows you to adjust transmission settings on the fly. I spend most of my time in Comfort or Sporty, with Slippery and Sport+ also available. AIRMATIC air suspension and the Adaptive Damping System make cruising the highways around Gander and Fogo Island, Newfoundland an absolute pleasure.
Inside, the 2016 Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe provides a front seat driving experience few automakers can match. A 4-spoke leather-wrapped steering wheel features simple audio, phone (if equipped) and info controls. The stalk-style gearshift handle is located on the right side of the steering column, to the left rests the wipers and cruise control.
Large white on black gauges look smart and provide exceptional levels of information. The iPad-style infotainment screen and center console arrangement are equally logical and well-designed. Personally I am not a fan of the Touchpad control as it seems redundant and more often than not I directly access the round knob sitting underneath.
The striking 2016 Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe offers a sport jacket alternative to the mostly business suit panache of the current SUV market. The only question you need answer is how important is back seat headroom. If the answer is not very, the new GLE Coupe is an excellent choice. If the answer is a lot, I suggest you keep moving down the line and consider the other GLE in the Benz family.
2016 Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe
Trim level: 450 AMG 4MATIC
Price as tested (before taxes): $77,600.00
Configuration: front-engine, all-wheel drive
Engine/transmission: 3.0L 6-cylinder/ 9-speed automatic
Power/torque: 362 hp/ 384 lb-ft
Fuel (capacity): regular (93L)
Fuel economy ratings (L/100 km): city: 13.6, hwy: 10.2 L/100 Km
Observed fuel economy (L/100 km): 11.5 L/100 km (450 km)
Warranties: 4-years/80,000 km (basic)
Competitors: BMW X6, Infiniti QX70
- Coupe-like profile, Interior comfort
- Rear seat room limited