Daimler attacks BMW's SUV coupe
The Mercedes GLE coupe is one of the stars at the Detroit auto show this week. It's a clever combination of sporty coupe and rugged SUV off-roader.
This Mercedes produces diversity of opinion. It ranges from "fascinating combination of sports coupé. Off-road SUV" to "clumsy BMW copy. Whichever way you look at it, the premiere of the Mercedes GLE Coupé at the Detroit auto show is always a talking point. It is quite astonishing that the brand with the star, which is still widely regarded as conservative, is emulating one of its Bavarian rival's most controversial models.
Naturally, the first encounter with the GLE prompts a comparison with the long-legged BMW X6, which has divided opinion since its launch in 2008. Its visual presence commands respect, but also a certain unease among some owners of "normal" cars Cars around it that always have to look up to the X6. Despite this, or perhaps precisely because of it, the Bavarian Bull is a success worldwide, even if it is not sighted so often in Germany. In the USA, on the other hand, where large cars are perfectly normal, the 4.91-meter-long BMW looks comparatively dainty.
Similar dimensions to the X6
The four-door Mercedes off-road coupe is just as long as its white-blue counterpart, and even exceeds it by three centimeters with a clear height of 1.73 meters. Although the lines of both models are very similar, with their coupé-like roof sloping gently to the rear, there is no danger of confusion. Daimler design chief Gorden Wagener with a mischievous smile when asked about the differences between the two models. Abstains from any further comment on the Munich competitor. From an objective point of view, the classic "faces" of the two brands offer a different perspective. The design of the headlights is the surest way to differentiate the two models. A clear distinguishing feature is the rear section: the narrow taillights of the Mercedes, which extend into the side section, are separated from the rear window by the spoiler, the license plate slides deep under the edge of the tailgate. On the X 6, on the other hand, it is centered between the BMW-typical lights. The bottom line is that the new Mercedes is a touch more elegant and gentle, and clearly has a friendlier face. The second generation of the X6, on the other hand, for all its noblesse, still has a touch of the deliberate grimness that its fans have come to love so much.
Only the G-class remains outside
The GLE Coupé is the second Mercedes to be given the new letter combination: in future, the SUV models, which are generally four-wheel drive, will be assigned to their respective sedan sisters. The GLA (part of the A-Class family) and the GLE Coupé (E-Class) will be followed by the normal GLE (previously M-Class) and the GLC (previously GLK), which is part of the C-Class. The largest off-roader, the GL, gets an extra letter and is promoted to GLS because of its proximity to the S-Class. Only the boxy forefather of the G-Class remains the same. Daimler boss Dieter Zetsche, who explained the changed Mercedes alphabet, didn't get lost once at the premiere party of the GLE and joked with the over 1.000 guests. "Everything clear? We can have a quiz later to see who's got it all down pat."
Initially three engines
Mercedes-usual technical refinements that the high-set coupe offers future users. In addition to the sophisticated permanent all-wheel drive, which is prepared for off-road use at the push of a button, the main features are the new nine-speed automatic transmission, many familiar assistance systems and numerous other electronic aids such as the "Active Curve System", which, despite the SUV's high-leggedness, is supposed to ensure the controllability of a coupe that lies lower on the road. "The GLE Coupé combines sportiness with versatility, and dynamism with robustness", explains Thomas Weber, Member of the Board of Management for Development. This, by the way, was also behind BMW's idea to put the X6 on the road eight years ago.
The hybrid is initially available with three different six-cylinder engines, all with a displacement of three liters. The diesel version 350 d produces 190 kW/258 hp. Scores with lush pulling power of 620 Newton meters. The 400 gasoline engine produces 245 kW/333 hp. The current icing on the cake is the AMG version, which, thanks to its twin turbo, sends 270 kW/367 hp to all four wheels. Consumption and performance figures are currently unknown, as are prices. Who would be surprised if they follow the example of their neighbor in southern Germany with the X in front of it?.