Review: Mercedes-AMG GLE 43 Coupe – New Suit For An Aging Champ

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Review: Mercedes-AMG GLE 43 Coupe – New Suit For An Aging Champ

When the Hollywood Blockbuster Movie “Jurassic World” was about to be released in cinemas back in 2015, the level of excitement and anticipation went through the roof.

Not only was the highly successful Jurassic Park franchise making a comeback after a 14-year hiatus, but there was also going to be a new “villain” dinosaur this time– a hybrid called the Indominus Rex, which was smarter, bigger, and more brutal than the good ol' T-Rex which terrorised the previous movies.

Petrolheads on the other hand, also had a reason to look forward to Jurassic World as Mercedes-Benz, having tied up with Universal Pictures since 1997, was going to show off their latest, and arguably most “gempak”  models at that time in all their glory in the film.

They were the new Unimog, G-Class, G63 AMG 6x6, and the model we’re looking at now – the new GLE Coupe.

Specifications

  • Price: RM719,888 (CBU, OTR without Insurance)
  • Engine: 3.0-litre, V6 Bi-turbo, Petrol
  • Power: 390 PS at 6,100 rpm
  • Torque: 520 Nm from 1,800 – 4,000 rpm
  • Transmission: 9-speed automatic
  • Safety: AEB, Cross-Traffic Detection, Blind Spot Assist, LKA, Attention Assist, 360-degree camera
  • Origin: Fully imported from Germany

Overview

Here to take on the BMW X6, the Mercedes-AMG GLE 43 Coupe was Mercedes-Benz’s first ever model in the Sports Activity Coupe (SAC) segment which was created by BMW back in 2008 with the introduction of the X6.

Offered in three trim levels in Malaysia when it was launched in 2016, the GLE 43 Coupe is the range-topping model, followed by the GLE 400 Coupe and GLE 450 AMG 4Matic Coupe variants.

Currently offered on a per order basis in the Malaysian market, the GLE 43 Coupe is priced at RM718,888 OTR without insurance.

Similar to other AMG 43 models offered here like the C43 Sedan, C43 Coupe, E43 Sedan, GLC 43, GLC 43 Coupe, and the SLC 43, the GLE 43 Coupe here is powered by a 3.0 litre biturbo V6 engine offering 390 PS and 520 Nm of torque, paired with the 9G-Tronic nine-speed automatic transmission.

The powertrain package enables the GLE 43 Coupe to sprint from 0 to 100 km/h in 5.7 seconds, and hit a top speed of 250 km/h.

Standard equipment of the AMG GLE 43 Coupe includes:

  • Autonomous emergency braking, cross-traffic detection
  • Active blind spot assist
  • Active lane keeping assist
  • Active cruise control (Distronic) with steering pilot
  • Drowsiness detection (Attention Assist)
  • 360-degree camera
  • Airmatic air suspension
  • 21-inch alloy wheels
  • LED headlamps, adaptive high beams
  • Electric panoramic glass sunroof
  • Keyless entry and start
  • Powered tailgate
  • Infotainment: Comand Online
  • Harmon Kardon Logic 7 surround sound
  • Rear seat entertainment

Exterior

Visually, the GLE 43 Coupe is something that you either love or absolutely hate. Combining the attributes of the regular GLE SUV such as high ground clearance and all-wheel drive technology with the styling of a coupe, the GLE Coupe, although not a two-door vehicle, features a low and sloping roofline, giving it a much sportier appearance compared to its boxy counterpart.

We particularly like how it looks from the front – simple, yet sporty and massive. The side and rear profile however, took some time to get used to due to the proportions.

Whether you find it handsome or ugly, there is no denying the fact that it turns heads due to its sheer massive presence. Plus, the fact that there are way fewer GLE Coupes out there compared to the X6 makes the Merc even more unique.

Believe it or not, even a few supercar owners around Subang Jaya and Bangsar gave the nod of approval when we dropped by places like Empire Mall and the Bangsar Shopping Centre just to check out how the “Atas” people react to this model.

Measuring 4,900 mm long, 1,731 mm in height, and 2,129 mm wide with a 2,915 mm wheelbase, the GLE Coupe is 9 mm shorter in length, 66 mm narrower, and 17 mm lower in height compared to the BMW X6. The GLE Coupe’s wheelbase on the other hand, is 18 mm less than the Bimmer. So, in terms of proportions, both contenders are quite similar.

Interior

As flashy as it is on the outside, the GLE Coupe’s interior is rather simple. Since this was a model which was launched back in 2015, the dashboard design and layout are from the previous generation, before the glorious era of ambient lighting and the fully digital double 12.3-inch HD displays came into the picture.

Although the cabin looks dated, build quality and refinement is impressive. In fact, the GLE Coupe feels a tad more luxurious than the X6.

There is Artico synthetic leather upholstery, Nappa leather-clad steering wheel, a generous dose of carbon fibre trimming, Harman Kardon premium audio system, two screens and a DVD player for rear occupants, four rear air-cond vents, and a retractable panoramic sunroof.

Despite having some space compromised due to the coupe-ish styling, four lanky individuals can still sit in the GLE Coupe without feeling claustrophobic. Compared to the X6, the GLE Coupe’s rear seats are actually more generous with head space.

To store luggage, there is 400 litres of space with the rear seats up, and 1,610 litres with the seats folded flat. In case you’re wondering how much boot space the X6 has to offer, there is 580 litres with seats up and 1,525 litres with the seats folded.

The only thing we didn’t like about the GLE Coupe is that the rear visibility is limited due to the low-slung roof. If not for the surround camera and reverse sensors, manoeuvring and parking the GLE Coupe would have been an absolute nightmare.

Driving it

Powered by a 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 engine good for 390 PS and 520 Nm of torque which is delivered to all four wheels via a new nine-speed transmission, the GLE 43 Coupe, despite its massive weight of close to 3 tons, is one quick behemoth capable of sprinting from zero to hundred in under 6 seconds.

There are five driving modes to choose from – Comfort, Sport, Sport Plus, Individual, Snow – each with their own transmission mapping, steering sensitivity, throttle response level, and suspension stiffness.

In the city and highways, Comfort mode made the most sense as things were in a civilised manner. The exhaust wasn’t growling too much, the dampers were not too stiff and tolerated uneven surfaces respectably, yet there was so much power available when we needed to accelerate or overtake.

Once we switched to Sports mode, things got more exciting as the exhaust note became louder, the steering felt heavier, and the suspensions stiffened up, making the GLE Coupe ready for some aggressive driving.

For those who like to live dangerously and want more excitement, there is the Sport Plus mode, in which the GLE 43 Coupe is in its most aggressive form. Unless you have the experience and the skills to handle so much power, our advice is to stick to Sport mode as Sport Plus can be a bit too aggressive at times.

Last but not the least, there is the Individual mode where one can set his or her own preferred combinations of steering sensitivity, suspension stiffness and Drivetrain settings.

Thanks to the vehicle’s weight, tweaked chassis, and the wide tyres, the GLE Coupe felt totally planted around corners, although it did tend to understeer when corners were approached a bit too fast.

As fun as it was around twisty bends, it didn’t feel as composed as you would feel in the BMW X6, and lacked the finesse which is offered by the Porsche Cayenne.

But in all, the GLE 43 Coupe is still a fun and powerful vehicle to drive. However, if you’re all about driving dynamics, the X6 would be the better option.

Conclusion

After many years, the BMW X6 finally has a worthy rival in the form of the Mercedes-AMG GLE 43 Coupe. On the bright side, the GLE Coupe is more powerful (384 hp VS 306 hp), comes with an arguably better built cabin, offers more space in the rear seats, and also a longer list of standard equipment.

However, there are a few issues with the GLE 43 Coupe. Priced at RM718,888, it costs about RM90,000 more than the X6 xDrive35i M Sport which was last sold for RM628,800, and is available only upon special request to BMW Group Malaysia at the moment (price upon application).

Besides that, the fact that the GLE Coupe is aging becomes obvious the moment you get into the car.

We are in an era where screens have replaced buttons and levers, where lights in the cabin do much more than to help us see, and even thumbdrives have become obsolete with the rise of Bluetooth and Cloud.

And after getting used to all these new gizmos, looking at the GLE Coupe which still has a DVD slot, a dashboard full of buttons, and no digital air-conditioning controls, will definitely turn many potential buyers off.

This may even be the reason why we barely see the GLE 43 Coupe on the road. So, until Mercedes-Benz updates the GLE 43 Coupe and brings it up to speed to be on the same page as its newer products, the latest models will remain as the preferred choice.

Gallery: Mercedes-AMG GLE 43 Coupe



Gokul

Gokul

He firmly believes that we should listen to Bob Marley more often while driving to make the road a better place.


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