Many of mythology’s most famed and feared monsters are rude combinations of otherwise standard beasts. The Minotaur was half-man, half-bull; The Chimera was a lion with a goat’s head protruding from its back and the tail of a snake; Medusa was a woman with serpents for hair. In that proud tradition, Mercedes has released the GLE Coupe, the offspring of its GLE SUV and CLS Coupe. If you were to draw your eyes up slowly from the ground, the first few seconds would look much like many other Mercedes SUVs: big chrome wheels, flared fenders, running-boards. But, once past the door handles, everything changes: the standard boxy rear has been swapped for a slender, falling roofline that obliterates storage capacity in the name of style. The Mercedes-Benz GLE 450 AMG 4MATIC Coupe (call this beast by its full name or be engulfed in flame) is a 21st century, style-conscious monster with the body of a truck and head of a coupe and, if nothing else, we’re intrigued.
Mercedes’ luxurious mish-mash is slated to go head-to-head with BMW’s X6, and will thus only be coming in intensely sporty flavors. This car is the base, with a biturbo V6 making 362 horsepower—that’s a lot, but here, the AMG tag means more style than snuff. The other option is the GLE63 S 4MATIC Coupe, with AMG’s now ubiquitous (well, among AMG cars) 5.5-liter biturbo V8 making 577 horsepower and one very quick Teutonic amalgamation. To back up the GLE’s sporty (compared to a G-wagen, at least) looks, Mercedes has done what it does best: come-up with fantastically complicated systems for making large cars drive small. Variable Dynamic Handling modes, a nine-speed transmission, and “augmented exhaust,” which means fake engine sounds piped through the speakers, help the truck invigorate the driver.
So, will it drive well? Certainly better than a standard GLE. Is it purely a marketing exercise? While we’re sure above all, Mercedes was excited to use “sportiness, dynamism, and ability” alongside “presence, versatility, and ruggedness” in a press release, the hundreds of thousands of BMW X6s sold prove that his Coupe-SUV market is fertile, and Mercedes wants a piece. Should you buy it? Sure, if the bizarre silhouette floats your boat, this monster won’t bite. Just make sure any rear-seat passengers don’t wear hats. [late summer at your Benz dealership; price TBD]
Photos by Mercedes-Benz