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Car Review

Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe review

£71,195 - £79,280
710
Published: 19 Oct 2020
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Driving

What is it like to drive?

If you’re braced for the usual ‘this monstrous German SUV defies the laws of physics’ shtick, then uncurl yourself from the foetal position and read on. In fact, the GLE Coupe isn’t all that successful in dodging the realities of its enormous 22-inch wheels, air suspension and sheer heft in town. The low speed ride is, in fact, quite shoddy. Conversation stoppingly shoddy. You weave to avoid potholes and drain covers, and hear passengers breathe in sharply as the car clatters across the usual British urban road furniture. In mainland Europe, it’s likely nowhere near as bad, but in rougher surfaces, about town, the GLE Coupe simply isn’t as cosseting as a big, luxury £70,000 Mercedes-Benz ought to be. The transmission sometimes likes to play hunt-the-gear. The 400d feels like a car straining for a faster cruise.

Oblige it, and things settle down into serenity. It’s an outstanding motorway cruiser, once you’ve got it up to a rate of knots that lets the air-ride do its thing. What’s more, Mercedes’ work in the wind tunnel to make the GLE the most aerodynamic of big SUVs pays off with impressively hushed wind noise, and tyre roar has been massive reduced from the old GLE Coupe. If you do a lot of cross-country schlepping on multi-lane highways, this is an accomplished mile-muncher.

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As we discovered when we drove the regular GLE, this 400d engine is a work of genius. It’s an absolute vat of torque, on tap from 1,200pm to 3,200rpm, which you’ll rarely rev past. This makes overtakes a doddle and motorway sliproads a cinch. The GLE Coupe ‘settles’ at a speed that’s somewhere beyond ‘frowned upon’ in the UK. Still, the sense of having such deep reserves of power and averages of low 30s to the gallon gives the 400d a bandwidth the hybrid-boosted GLE 53 AMG is unlikely to match. This new straight-six diesel even makes quite a pleasant noise – a smooth, unstressed rumble. 

While there is a Sport mode to toughen up the suspension and a completely pointless option to disable the traction control, the GLE Coupe isn’t a coupe-SUV that will willingly give hot hatches nightmares. Not a 400d, at any rate. It can be hustled along at a fair lick, but you’ve little sense of connection from the steering and the flatness of the body is a little disconcerting. If you want a car of this size that handles like a sports saloon, get a Porsche Cayenne, which is less crunchy at urban speeds as well.

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Highlights from the range

the fastest

Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe GLE 63 S 4Matic+ Premium Plus 5dr TCT
  • 0-623.8s
  • CO2
  • BHP612
  • MPG
  • Price£123,480

the cheapest

Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe GLE 350de 4Matic AMG Line Premium + 5dr 9G-Tronic
  • 0-626.9s
  • CO2
  • BHP320
  • MPG
  • Price£69,540

the greenest

Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe GLE 400d 4Matic AMG Line Premium + 5dr 9G-Tronic
  • 0-625.7s
  • CO2193.0g/km
  • BHP330
  • MPG38.7
  • Price£71,195

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