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    Mercedes-Benz GLE450 AMG Coupe First Drive Review


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    Ameya Dandekar

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    Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe Exterior

    What is it?

    This car is all about desirability but there’s a lot more substance under the skin of this Mercedes GLE coupe than its unusual looks would suggest. It shares its platform with the GLE SUV, which is not a bad place to start with. It’s a more driver-focused version, one that looks sportier than its full-fledged SUV sibling and this is where its appeal lies.

    It sits 77mm lower than the GLE and the combination of the sloping roof, the steeply raked window line and the massive 21-inch AMG wheels makes the GLE coupe look incredibly imposing, even intimidating. From the front, the GLE looks very similar to its SUV cousin but some small details make it look quite dramatic and appealing. The large grille and the sculpted LED headlamps gives this car a menacing look. The large air intakes in the bumper hint at the 362bhp petrol motor nestling under the chiselled hood. From the rear, the GLE coupe looks more like an AMG GT on stilts and the steeply raked windscreen and twin exhausts complete the unique look. It’s a design that will have mixed opinions but will also turns heads where you go. The wheelbase at 2915mm is the same as the GLE but the coupe sits on a far wider front and rear track partly because of the more pronounced wheel arches and partly because of those humongous 275 section front and 315 section rear tyres.

    How is it on the inside?

    The building blocks of the interior are basically the same as the GLE SUV, including the entire dashboard, door pads, knobs and switches. The cabin is a fine place to be in, thanks to its high-quality construction and ergonomic design. If we had to pin point then Mercedes could have made it look a bit different given its distinctive exterior.

    Up front, space is fantastic and there’s enough headroom, legroom and width which makes finding a comfortable position on the snug seats easy. A glance at the dimensions might fool you into thinking rear accommodation will be spacious and comfortable. But once inside you’ll be a bit disappointed.

    Given the shortcomings of a stylish coupe-like roofline, Mercedes has done what it can to give you maximum possible space. There’s plenty of shoulder room, and the cabin roof is contoured to allow as much headroom as possible. Legroom is perfectly acceptable, but there’s no getting away from the fact that anyone of above-average height will probably feel cramped, especially given the car’s high waistline. And then there is the rearward visibility which through that small rear windshield is tragic. Reversing and parking can be a nightmare in the confines of the city. Thankfully Mercedes gives you a 360 degree camera then.

    How does it drive?

    The 2996cc twin turbo petrol unit under the hood of the GLE coupe is a collection of some of Merc’s best high-tech features, all roped in to create one fine package. It is a reduced capacity iteration of Merc’s old 3.5-litre V6 which did duty in the E350. The engine’s bore and stroke have changed from 92.6 x 86.0mm to 88.0 x 82.1mm. This motor features variable valve timing, direct injection and two turbochargers. It uses third generation piezo injectors from Bosch and they can open five times per firing cycle and are precisely controlled to burn only the exact amount of fuel required according to the throttle position, gear position, engine and road speed. Making 362bhp and 520Nm of torque from as low 2000rpm this motor delivers instant responses.

    Step on the accelerator and the motor feels smooth and well-balanced. There is loads of grunt from the word go and the motor makes light work of the 2270kg kerb weight. At full throttle the motor comes in its own and it pushes you back in the well padded seats as it gains speed in a linear manner. Take-off is very strong and thanks to the 315 section rear tyres traction is unbelievable. As a result, performance figures are more than impressive. Acceleration from rest takes you to 100kph in one seamless rush and it just takes 6.02 seconds. Keep the throttle pinned down another seven seconds and you’ll snarl past 150kph! What makes all this power so accessible is that the new 9-speed automatic works well with this motor. It shifts seamlessly in comfort mode and the gearshifts become fast enough in sport mode for spirited driving.

    With all that power, what’s also impressive is that stability around long corners is fantastic too. The long wheelbase, wide stance and wide tyres give it huge amounts of grip, and there’s almost no shifting around, even at really high speeds. The Coupe also has the ability to sit calmly on the road even with the speedo wound all the way around. In the tighter stuff all that girth can get a bit unnerving initially. But with more time behind the wheel you realise that this Merc is quite adept in this environment too. Of course, there’s no getting away from all that mass, especially when it comes to successive corners and the brakes take a hammering too if you drive it hard for a considerable period of time. So while this is no Porsche Macan, it surprisingly still is a fun car to drive hard.

    Should I buy one?

    If you are looking at the GLE Coupe as a practical buy then it scores a big zero. The luggage area is tiny and despite the massive size the rear bench is not the most comfortable. This being an import, its price of Rs 86.40 lakh comes as a pleasant surprise and makes it quite of decent value. So this luxury crossover is for people who are looking for a sports car performance without compromising on everyday usability thanks to its great ground clearance. With its unique styling, buying the GLE coupe is more like self-indulgence but then for the enthusiast, car buying is not a rational decision anyway.

    Where does it fit in?

    The Mercedes GLE 450 AMG Coupe’s main rival is the BMW X6. But they are very different in terms of price and hardware. Where the Merc is powered by a turbo petrol the X6 is comes in a diesel variant. The BMW costs a massive Rs 30 lakh more than the Mercedes.

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