It's one, two GLE-E for new Mercedes SUVs

The updated Mercedes GLE
The updated Mercedes GLE

Mercedes Benz GLE and GLE Coupe

If there was ever proof that the pendulum is definitely swinging back in the premium car direction, you just have to take a look at the figures for Mercedes Benz so far this year.

One of our favourite Mercs, the CLA, is practically selling itself with close to 300 models sold already. Its flagship €100k S-Class has found almost 50 new homes, while its A- and B-Class figures are in the hundreds.

Hot on the heels in the premium SUV market, the German brand’s new GLE and GLE Coupe are putting a major dent in the sales of BMW’s X5 and X6.

I have said it before and I will say it again, there is no doubt in my mind that Mercedes has taken some of its design cues from the BMW X6.

Both the GLE and GLE Coupe are two replacements for the company’s M-Class machines. The ‘E’ in GLE name now tells us that the new model is based on the E-Class platform, and shares most of its technology and safety packages with the executive saloon.

The GLE Coupe is the real head turner in the family and I couldn’t help but notice how many bewildered looks I was getting during my week-long test drive.

It always seems to happen when a brand-new model that hasn’t been around before rolls on to the streets.

My test drive for the week was the GLE 350d 4matic Coupe, which will make up the core sales here in Ireland. It certainly has a presence on the road, and the muscular stance will make sure you stand out in the crowd.

Fitted with a nine-speed G-Tronic gearbox and permanent all-wheel drive, the GLE Coupe handles close to perfection. 

I had already put it through its paces in the Austrian Alps last year, but it’s more than capable of carving up the Irish roads too.

On straight roads, it cruises along like a luxury yacht in calm waters, while on the bends the traction and grip are up there beside its BMW rival.

For the more conservative types who don’t want that in-your-face look, the new GLE SUV ticks the box. It has the more subtle design cues than the Coupe. 

It has undergone some minor surgery from the outgoing G-Class model and been given a few nips and tucks to freshen up the exterior. The engine too, has been given an overhaul and is now claimed to be up to 17 per cent more fuel efficient. 

The suspension has been tweaked and both models feature the latest equipment, technology, more rugged off-road capability and driver assistance packages. 

I found both models very spacious inside the cabin and, even with the sloping roofline in the coupe, there is plenty of head room for rear-seat passengers.

At the other end of the spectrum, the premium German brand is also introducing a GLE 500e plug-in hybrid, which I tested last year.

Although I can’t see many of these shifting from Irish forecourts, the results were highly impressive.

We travelled 60 kilometres in normal everyday driving conditions to our stop-off point using just 24km of that journey with the conventional three-litre V6 petrol engine.

If money is no object, then you could always splash the cash on one of the AMG versions available – the GLE 450 367bhp V6 or the mind-blowing 5.5-litre GLE 63 S V8. 

Overall, both the GLE and GLE coupe are stunning SUVs. If I had to pick one of them, I would probably have to go for the coupe, just for its sheer road presence.

Model: Mercedes Benz GLE Coupe 350d
Price: From €86,455 (€98,665 test model)
Road Tax: Band E (€750 per year)
0-100kph: 7 seconds
Max Speed: 226kph
Fuel Economy: 6.9l/100km (claimed)
Boot Space: 650-1,720 litres

Model: Mercedes Benz GLE 250d 4Matic
Price: From €65,665 (€74,721 test model)
Road Tax: Band C (€390 per year)
0-100kph: 8.6 seconds
Max Speed:: 212kph
Fuel Economy: 5.7l/100km (claimed)
Boot Space: 690-2,010 litres