The BMW X6 raised many eyebrows when it was launched back in 2008. It was based on the X5, boasted a sportier roofline and a more muscular stance, but less interior space. The German brand even had the audacity to charge more for it.
But customers responded, although one could argue that it’s the Infiniti FX (now called QX70) that established the coupe-shaped SUV segment back in 2002. It took quite a while for another automaker to launch a rival to the X6, but now we have the 2016 Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe.
It’s obviously based on the regular GLE, but the Coupe’s sportier profile is much more noticeable. It also benefits from the styling cues that the brand uses to distinguish its coupes from its sedans, including the slim horizontal taillights. If we want a Mercedes SUV that draws attention, we shouldn’t look any further.
Two gasoline engines are offered in the 2016 Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe, including a 362-hp, twin-turbo V6 and a fire-breathing AMG, twin-turbo V8 that generates 577 hp. In typical Benz fashion, though, the most affordable trim level includes a turbo-diesel engine, and that’s the one we drove. The GLE 350d 4MATIC Coupe is motivated by a 3.0L V6 that belts out 249 hp and 457 lb-ft of torque.
Thanks to a new nine-speed automatic transmission, the diesel engine provides plenty of muscle as we pull away from a standstill, runs out of breath above 3,000 rpm, but is quite fuel efficient. We recorded an average of 8.7 L/100 km during our test, although that included a back-and-forth trip from Montreal to Toronto.
On the road, the GLE Coupe feels rock solid, the ride is refined thanks to the AIRMATIC suspension system, and the cabin is very quiet, even when the diesel engine is revving up to its redline. The GLE Coupe’s cockpit is ergonomically well designed, the seats are supportive for long drives and finish is beyond reproach. The dashboard’s overall design is clean and elegant, if a little bland with the standard Anthracite Poplar wood trim.
The low roofline requires front and rear passengers to duck when climbing aboard. In back, headroom isn’t generous, but sufficient for normal-sized adults. Cargo space isn’t as accommodating as in the regular GLE, but its 620-litre capacity behind the rear seatbacks is still very usable.
You know what? Maybe the GLE Coupe, like the BMW X6, is what most closely defines the term “sport-utility vehicle,” because it has both those attributes baked into it. And the Benz has a diesel engine option, something the X6 doesn’t. The only downside to this alluring coupe-shaped SUV is that it starts at $72K, which is about ten grand more than a regular GLE.