What Car? says...
The Mercedes GLE Coupe is one of an increasing number of luxury SUVs that sacrifice a bit of functionality for a sleeker form. Rather than a squared-off tail that prioritises rear head room and boot space, it has a roofline tapering towards the rear of the car, giving it a more delicate silhouette.
It’s quite a transformation over the standard GLE SUV, with Mercedes lopping 77mm off the regular car’s roof height and 60mm from the wheelbase – the latter change also intended to make the Coupe feel a bit more agile in the bends. Unsurprisingly, there’s no seven-seat option and boot capacity in the GLE Coupe is less than you get with the sensible sibling it was based on.
There’s a range of petrol, diesel and plug-in hybrid engines under the bonnet, and although the trim line-up is fairly limited and the options list is tiny, this does at least make choosing your Mercedes GLE a fairly simple task.
Of course, Mercedes was by no means the first car manufacturer to mash together an SUV and a coupé, and it certainly won't be the last. So, don’t forget to check out rivals, including the 'origin of the species', the Audi Q8, plus the BMW X6 and Porsche Cayenne Coupe.
But first, keep reading for our in-depth review of the Mercedes GLE Coupe. We’ll cover everything, from what it’s like to drive to what engine you should pick, and just how much practicality you have to sacrifice to get those distinctive looks. Once you’ve made up your mind, have a look at our New Car Buying pages for some hefty discounts.
Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
With the Mercedes GLE Coupe, instead of the smorgasbord of petrol and diesel options on offer with the GLE SUV, you’re limited to just two engines unless you opt for one of the high-performance AMG models.
The cheapest way into the range comes in the shape of the 350de plug-in hybrid which combines a 2.0-litre diesel engine with a huge battery pack and a fairly potent electric motor.
Thanks to the big battery, it’ll cover up to 66 miles on a single charge, according to official figures. That’s more than twice as much as rival plug-in hybrids the Audi Q7 TFSIe and Volvo XC90 T8, and puts it on par with the impressive BMW X5 45e.
In electric mode, the GLE Coupe is very smooth, with only the odd low-speed gear change punctuating the acceleration oh-so slightly. You certainly wouldn’t call it brisk, but it has enough poke to get you up to motorway speeds quickly enough for most situations.
One thing that does take a bit of getting used to, though, is the way the car automatically switches between coasting when you come off the accelerator and using the regenerative brakes to top up the battery, depending on traffic and road conditions. In practice, it actually makes for a more relaxing drive because it often stops you having to use the foot brake.
When the engine is called into play, the transition between power sources happens near-seamlessly and the 350de’s diesel is very refined, if not quite as smooth as the six-cylinder version found in the 400d.
Similarly, while the 350de’s performance when both power sources are singing is a perfectly respectable 0-62mph time of 6.9sec, the 400d takes just 5.7sec, with plenty of urgency from low revs, despite missing out on the electric motor assistance.
That’s partly down to the 350de’s extra 405kg of bulk over the 400d, something that really becomes apparent in bends. A 400d handles tidily enough with plenty of grip and well-controlled body lean, but the 350de feels noticeably less agile.
The 350de comes over as a bit more ponderous and less willing to be hustled compared with the 400d, which seems happy enough scything through an S-bend. The BMW X6 and especially the Porsche Cayenne Coupé are more fun to drive, though. Of course, there are the high-performance AMG 53 and 63 engines, although we’re yet to sample them in the Coupé.
All models have standard switchable air suspension, but also get massive 22in wheels. Those wheels undoubtedly look great, but you’re certainly aware of potholes, expansion joints and other sharp shocks passing beneath you. The GLE Coupé also fidgets slightly over scruffy surfaces so if comfort is your bag, we’d point you towards the Audi Q8 or Range Rover Velar.
The interior layout, fit and finish
Unlike in the regular Mercedes GLE, full electric front seat and steering wheel adjustment is standard on all GLE Coupes, as is a memory function. That means it’s easy to get comfortable behind the wheel, especially with standard heated and cooled front seats (and even heated and cooled front cupholders).
The GLE Coupe also gets a 12.3in digital instrument cluster as standard. It has crystal clear graphics and can display a vast array of driving information. It’s a little trickier to customise than Audi’s Virtual Cockpit system, though, and you might find the touch-sensitive controls on the steering wheel a bit fiddly to use.
The lofty seating position helps to give you a good view of the road ahead. The windscreen pillars can partially obscure your view at junctions, but they don't cause a serious problem.
Rear and over-the-shoulder visibility are hampered by the narrowing rear windows and heavily sloped roof with thick pillars. Thankfully you get a 360deg camera system with park assist on all models, along with adaptive LED headlights, which allow you to keep main beam on for longer without dazzling others.
Next to the 12.3in driver’s display sits another 12.3in touchscreen that takes care of the infotainment. If you don’t want to prod and poke the screen itself, there’s a trackpad between the front seats and another on the left spoke of the steering wheel. This can prove tricky to use at first, but once you’ve got the hang of it you can control many functions without taking your hands off the wheel. Siri-style voice control, sat-nav and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto are standard on all models.
Most of the GLE Coupe’s interior materials look and feel suitably expensive, and there’s plenty of soft-touch plastic on the dashboard. If you give the dashboard a bit of a poke and a prod, though – particularly around the climate-control panel – it doesn't exude quite the same impression of solidity as you’ll find in its Audi and BMW rivals. Still, it’s certainly not flimsy, and the difference isn’t something that would bother you on a daily basis.
Passenger & boot space
How it copes with people and clutter
No one will feel cramped in the front of a Mercedes GLE Coupe – it’s a fairly wide car so there’s no chance you’ll be clashing elbows with the person sitting next to you.
In addition, there are lots of useful cubbyholes dotted about the place, along with good-sized door pockets. Rear leg room is generous, although head room isn’t the GLE Coupe’s strong point, not helped by a standard panoramic glass roof. That means a six-footer will find their head very close to the roof lining while anyone much over that might have to slouch to fit in.
On paper, the Coupe has a larger boot than its GLE SUV sibling, and there’s certainly lots of room for shopping, suitcases or anything else you can throw into it.
However, that gently sloping roofline means that taller items might not fit very easily, or at all. It's best to take a tape measure when you’re looking for some new furniture. That’s particularly true of the 350de plug-in because its big battery pack means the boot floor is higher, commandeering a substantial amount of storage space.
To help cram even more stuff in, all GLE Coupes get handy 40/20/40 split-folding rear seats – perfect for that skiing holiday with a couple of your friends.
Buying & owning
Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is
Mercedes GLE Coupe prices start quite a bit higher than those for the GLE SUV. That’s because you can’t have a cheap four-cylinder diesel or a pared back trim level. A BMW X6 doesn’t cost as much, although that starts with lesser trim levels than Mercedes’ plush AMG Line Premium Plus.
CO2 emissions are high for the regular petrol and diesel models, which sit in the 37% benefit-in-kind (BIK) tax bracket. However, the 350de’s mega electric-only range and fuel sipping 2.0-litre diesel mean that it only emits 23g/km and, impressively, gets into the 6% BIK bracket. The X6 can’t get anywhere near that, so you’d need a BMW X5 45e to match it or a Porsche Cayenne Coupe to get reasonably close.
Of course, you’re probably aware that the GLE Coupe will cost a fair bit to buy and run, so let's instead focus on the toys you get. AMG Line Premium Plus comes with all the goodies we’ve already mentioned plus four-zone climate control, keyless entry and start, a punchy Burmester stereo and illuminated aluminium-effect running boards to help you in and out.
Every GLE Coupe comes with a three-year, unlimited mileage warranty – pretty much par for the course in this class. There's also roadside assistance for three years, so you won't be stranded on a verge or hard shoulder if you break down.
Mercedes’ reliability record isn’t great. Overall, the brand finished a lowly 26th out of the 31 manufacturers that were included in the What Car? Reliability Survey. However, bucking the trend of the manufacturer’s other models, the GLE finished in a strong third position in the Luxury SUV class, behind the Audi Q7 and Porsche Macan but ahead of the BMW X5, Range Rover Sport and Volvo XC90.
The GLE Coupe gets plenty of active safety tech as standard, including automatic emergency braking, lane keep assist and blind-spot monitoring. Euro NCAP hasn’t tested the Coupe, although the SUV got the full five stars.
|RRP price range||£92,810 - £144,860|
|Number of trims (see all)||2|
|Number of engines (see all)||4|
|Available fuel types (which is best for you?)||hybrid, petrol, diesel|
|MPG range across all versions||22.6 - 34.9|
|Available doors options||5|
|Warranty||3 years / No mileage cap|
|Company car tax at 20% (min/max)||£6,749 / £10,523|
|Company car tax at 40% (min/max)||£13,498 / £21,046|