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Detroit LIVE: 2016 Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe [Video]

by Ronan Glon

The GLE Coupe ushers in Mercedes\' new naming system and a new sub-brand called AMG sports.

Mercedes-Benz has introduced the 2016 GLE Coupe, a crossover-coupe that follows the path blazed by the BMW X6. The segment-defying off-roader ushers in Mercedes' new naming system.

The GLE Coupe was previewed by a close-to-production concept car called Concept Coupe SUV that made its debut earlier this year at the Beijing Motor Show. In its transition from a show car to a production car, the GLE Coupe has gained a more swept-back front fascia - a concession likely made in the name of pedestrian safety standards - as well as minor updates like bigger exterior mirrors and less futuristic door handles.

The front end of the GLE Coupe falls in line with Mercedes' recent design language thanks to features like a rippled hood, elongated headlights with integrated LED daytime running lights and an oversized three-pointed star emblem. The roofline peaks above the driver and gently slopes down towards the back of the GLE before flattening out for a few inches; as a result, from the beltline up the GLE's silhouette is closer to a sedan than to a crossover. Out back, the GLE features a slanted rear fascia and slim tail lamps connected by a strip of chrome trim, a look that is directly inspired by the S-Class Coupe.

Life AboardWith a high seating position and a tall dashboard, the GLE Coupe's relation with the M-Class becomes immediately evident on the inside. The two off-roaders share roughly the same cockpit but the GLE boasts a large high-definition color screen that sticks out from the top of the center console, a setup that will make its way to the M when it is given a facelift next year. The screen is controlled by a touch pad located in between the front seats.

The GLE Coupe offers over 58 cubic feet of cargo space with the rear seats folded flat, a statistic that, according to Mercedes, earns it the honor of being the most spacious coupe in the world.

Under the HoodThe GLE Coupe inaugurates Mercedes' AMG sports sub-brand. When fully launched, the AMG sports lineup will be comprised of models that will slot between standard cars equipped with the AMG Sport package and full-blown AMG-tuned models like the C63.

Called GLE 450 AMG, the AMG sports offering is powered by a twin-turbocharged V6 engine rated at 367 horsepower and 383 lb-ft. of torque. The V6 sends power to all four wheels via a nine-speed automatic transmission and Mercedes' 4Matic all-wheel drive system, but performance specifications are not available.

Two other models will be available at launch. The GLE 400 packs a twin-turbocharged V6 that churns out 333 horsepower and 354 lb-ft of torque, while the Europe-only GLE 350 d delivers 258 ponies and a generous 457 lb-ft. of twist from a turbodiesel engine. A range-topping AMG-tuned model called GLE 63 AMG Coupe is expected to bow at next year's Geneva Motor Show.

The crossover-coupe boasts a Dynamic Select function that lets the driver pick from five driving modes: Individual, Slippery, Comfort, Sport and Sport +. Selected using a rotary knob located on the center console, the modes change a variety of parameters including the suspension firmness, the steering response, the throttle response, how the transmission goes through the gears and even the sound emitted by the exhaust system.

An air suspension called Airmatic comes standard on the GLE 450 AMG, while the less expensive GLE 350 d and GLE 400 models come standard with a conventional steel suspension. Select models are available with a Sports Direct-Steer system designed to provide optimal feedback in all driving situations.

The GLE Coupe is built in Mercedes' Tuscaloosa, Alabama, factory alongside the M-Class that it shares its platform with, the U.S.-spec C-Class, the GL-Class and the China-only R-Class. It will go on sale next spring as a 2016 model.

Live Images by Brian Williams.

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