ML gets makeover and new name while newly introduced GLE Coupe appears to dare the BMW X6.

Yesterday, at Gargash Enterprises SZR showroom, the new lineup of Sport Utility Vehicles from Mercedes was launched in Dubai. Note: GL is the prefix the Mercedes range of SUVs will henceforth bear. That kills the ML, and sorts the GL with a hint of their sedan counterparts.

The GLE is built on the E class sedan platform, GLC on the C class and the GLA on the A class. Simple enough. Like, GLC is surely a more befitting tag than GLK for a compact crossover based on the C class! The G stands for the German word suggesting off land vehicle (Geländewagen) and L for Leicht (Light) to differentiate it from the original tough nut, the G-wagen.

Mercedes is on a design roll!

Some might argue that what’s newly revealed are names rather than drastically different models. Save the GLE Coupe, which is a drastic step in itself that it strongly reeks of Bimmer exhaust; nevertheless imposing!

The inescapably distinctive X6 design has always divided the world into two. Now, Mercedes has bought right into it, as though BMW unequivocally decided how a Sports Utility Coupe should look. Ironically, the new Mercedes GLE Coupe has now expanded the family of power-weirdos together with its archrival. To the advantage of the later entrant, I find the new GLE Coupe to be slightly more refined and rounded in appeal.

The GLC shows all the perkiness and gloss of the new C-class, in its uplifted form. As for the GLE, let’s put it this way. Despite a two-slat grille instead of three, you will recognize the new GLE as the current ML, without a second glance.

9-speed gearbox and standard 4-wheel drive

The GLE Coupe earns the tag of Sport Utility Coupe with a 557 hp / 700 Nm torque output from the same AMG 5.5 L V8 bi-turbo powerhouse that drove the ML 63 I tested many months ago. The GLE 400 4MATIC features a direct-injection twin-turbo V6 good for 333 hp and 480 Nm of torque. All GLE models come with the brand new 9-speed 9G-TRONIC automatic transmission. Meanwhile, the GLC 300 engine produces 245 hp and 370 Nm of torque.

Even as Mercedes marks 30 years of 4MATIC, the all-wheel drive format is standard addition to all SUV available, while styling packages are optional, like Exclusive, AMG and Night Package. Gargash Enterprises seems to have chosen a good mix of specs for the line up they are bringing here, offering AMG performance as well as advanced safety features such as forward collision alert and braking intervention, Distronic Plus (distance-managed cruise control), the AIRMATIC suspension etc.

MERCEDES SUV PRICE: The Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 Coupe is available from AED 534,000 while the GLE 400 starts at AED 308,000 and GLC 300 at AED 251,000.

First drive in a flash!

Ten minutes in the new GLE Coupe is what I hoped for but ended up spending double that in the new GLE 400. The casual glance revealed very little that is different from the earlier ML but for the navigation screen that is tablet-like, similar to the new C-class. The stalk gear with the P conversely placed against the thumb and the electronic touch parking brake are pretty much standard in the new range of Mercedes cars.

The GLE 400 seemed to be in no rush but felt sure, smooth and comfortable. The vehicle turnaround was smooth with an impressively acute turning radius. Once when the transmission dragged a notch for two seconds too long, it still didn’t get transferred to the wheel. But a quick corner did take a ‘slip second’ before the vehicle assumed the straight again. Satisfied, I backed up into the packed parking, and did not break a sweat thanks to the most useful innovation in a premium cabin in five years – the top angle reversing view!

For a detailed review, check back in October.

Mercedes SUV range revealed, sorted by new name was last modified: February 22nd, 2016 by Sudeep Koshy

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