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Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe

Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe 2020 road test review - hero front
Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe 2020 road test review - hero front

Mercedes-Benz, by its own admission, was late in joining the coupé-SUV ranks, preferring to sit back and take a wait-and-see approach as its more progressive premium brand rivals led the way into what has now become an indispensable part of any large-scale luxury car maker’s line-up.

But after tasting initial sales success with the 2015 version, it has wasted little time in launching this all-new Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe, which boasts both more resolved exterior styling and greater interior luxury than its predecessor.

The new GLE Coupé is aimed directly as the likes of the Audi Q8, BMW X6 and Porsche Cayenne Coupé. Unlike the model it replaces, though, it's not merely a rebodied version of the regular Mercedes GLE SUV.

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To help provide it with a more individual appearance, Mercedes has rung the changes, giving it a 62mm-shorter wheelbase than its more upright sibling, at 2935mm, among other measures. Compared with the first generation GLE Coupé, though, it has grown: length is up by 39mm at 4939mm, width has increased by 7mm to 2010mm and height is a scant 1mm lower than before, at 1730mm.

As with the bullish exterior, the interior has been thoroughly redesigned in line with moves made with the new GLE. Key elements include a pair of 12.3in digital displays for the instruments and infotainment. As in other recent Mercedes models, they're housed within single panel atop a multi-layered dashboard and are controlled by the MBUX operating system, with touchscreen, conversational speech and gesture control functions complementing small touchpad controllers within the horizontal spokes of a new multi-function steering wheel and a larger touchpad on the centre console.

The GLE Coupé has an agreeable driving environment: the high seating position affords a commanding view out front, while higher-grade materials create a genuinely upmarket feel throughout. Leading the new features is an optional 45x15cm head-up display. Active Stop-and-Go Assist, which permits semi-autonomous driving in traffic jams, is also among a wide range of driver assistance systems offered.

Despite the increase in external dimensions, accommodation remains much the same as before; shoulder room in the front has increased by 21mm, but other measurements go largely unchanged. That said, the new GLE Coupé is imminently practical in spite of its swoopy roofline and liftback-style tailgate, offering more than adequate space for five adults and 655 litres of boot space – 25 litres more than the regular GLE, no less. In a move that aids the loading of heavy items, the loading lip is now positioned 59mm lower than before.

The basis for the new GLE Coupé is Mercedes' MHA (modular high architecture) platform, as used by the latest GLE and GLS. This is claimed to offer an impressive 33% increase in rigidity over the structure used by the original model, thanks in part to the adoption of cast-aluminium nodes for the front and rear suspension mountings.