2015 Detroit - Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe has the BMW X6 firmly in sight

The problem with the German luxury trio is that they’re too predictable. When Audi debuted its A3 hatchback in 1996, neither BMW nor Mercedes-Benz had a competing model in their portfolios. Today, the A3, 1-Series and A-Class are locking horns across various geographies. The story of the four door coupe isn't much different with Mercedes-Benz pioneering the segment with the sexy CLS before Audi and BMW played catch-up.

The new year’s first auto show that opened in Detroit earlier this week had more of the same. BMW’s X6 has been enjoying a monopoly of the hybrid ‘SUV-Coupe’ segment that it created, leaving its rivals in the lurch. Though it has taken longer than usual, Mercedes-Benz has finally come up with its challenger, the all-new GLE Coupe. Just like it’s Munich-based rival, the GLE Coupe is sure to split opinions big-time. You will either love it or hate it. Period.

Based on the current ML’s platform, the GLE Coupe’s role in Mercedes’ portfolio is clear. While the upcoming GLE would replace the ML and rival BMW’s X5, the GLE Coupe would end up locking horns with the controversial yet popular X6. Audi isn't in this fight yet, but judging by history, they should soon have one to challenge these sloped-roof Sports Utility Vehicles.

The new design language of Mercedes-Benz has earned the brand thousands of fans worldwide and the GLE Coupe doesn't try to deviate from that. It picks up elements from a lot of other models in the portfolio before merging them all in the polarizing SUV-Coupe shell. The upright front end looks familiar, thanks to the trapezoidal grille split by a strip of chrome and the kinked headlights that we have seen in cars like the CLA and A-Class. The profile looks a bit weird with those large wheels and the sloping roof-line, we think. But then, if the customers love it and are ready to part with their hard-earned money, who are we to complain? The rear is characterized by the slim horizontal taillights that bear a strong resemblance to the S-Class Coupe and AMG GT.

Looking at the pictures released by Mercedes-Benz, the interiors look first rate. Dominated by a chunky flat-bottomed steering wheel, the large tablet-like display that appears to pop out of the center console and lots of carbon-fiber bits, the GLE Coupe’s cabin looks comfy and sporty at the same time. Powering this brute coupe is a bi-turbo V6 engine that produces 362 horsepower and 520 Nm of torque. It comes mated to a 9G-TRONIC nine-speed automatic transmission and 4MATIC permanent all-wheel drive system. Like all other Mercedes’ models, a generous list of safety and comfort equipment would come standard in the GLE Coupe including the DYNAMIC SELECT feature that lets the driver control the vehicle’s handling.

And yes, there’s an AMG variant too that’s quicker, more agile and looks sharper than the regular model.

With the introduction of GLE Coupe, Mercedes’ successful SUV range is all set for a full nomenclature change. The core models – A, B, C, E and S will continue to be the mainstay while the SUVs will all get suffixes that indicates their relationship with the relevant core models. While the GLA is already in line with this new system, the next-generation GLK would be christened GLC while the M-Class will see its name changed to GLE. The range-topping GL will get an ‘S’ suffix and become GLS while the legendary ‘G’ would continue unchanged.

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