The GLE is the newest model to use Mercedes-Benz’s new nomenclature, where the last letter of each SUV line corresponds with the sedan on which it’s based. As such, the GLE is based on the midsize E-Class platform.
Executives say future GLE models will come in both gasoline and diesel variants. But for now, the GLE Coupe will go on sale in the U.S. in a single trim level: The Mercedes-Benz GLE 450 AMG 4Matic Coupe.
The GLE Coupe will not only challenge the BMW X6 on the road, but also on the factory floor. It will be built in the U.S. at Mercedes-Benz’s manufacturing plant in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. BMW manufactures all of its X6s at Spartanburg, South Carolina.
The GLE Coupe also gets a new suspension, used for the first time on a Mercedes-Benz vehicle, which pairs its Airmatic air suspension with continuously variable dampers, with level control and an automatic lowering function at higher speeds, all of which improve stability and handling.
Inside, the GLE 450 AMG Coupe’s cockpit feels more like a sportscar compared with a standard SUV, though it offers the higher seating position and improved visibility. Sport seats and a leather-wrapped sport steering wheel come standard, with brushed aluminum interior trim (AMG carbon-fiber trim is optional). An 8-inch TFT display is perched at the top of the center stack, and is controlled via MB’s Comand knob with touchpad on the center console. A rear seat entertainment system is optional, as well as an upgraded, Bang & Olufsen sound system.
Like other Mercedes-Benz models, several electronic safety options are available, including the Driving Assistance package which bundles steering assist, pedestrian detection with automatic braking, cross-traffic assist, blind spot assist and active lane keeping. The Parking package includes a 360-degree camera and automatic parallel parking feature.
The 2016 Mercedes-Benz GLE 450 AMG 4Matic Coupe is scheduled to go on sale in the U.S. in late summer 2015. It was revealed at the North American International Auto Show at Detroit. Prices haven’t been announced, we’re guessing it will start slightly higher than BMW’s lower-powered base X6, at around $65,000.