Mercedes GLE Coupe Shows How Much Mercedes-Benz Has Changed

Mercedes GLE Coupe rendering 1 photo
Photo: Gabriel Brindusescu
If you have any friends working for Mercedes-Benz, you should try to help them with the holidays tasks and not just for now, but for the next few years or so. They’re going to need all the assistance they can get for setting up that Christmas tree or finding the best presents, since their jobs will keep them uber-busy.
In case you haven’t noticed, Mercedes is going through some sort of a revolution. They’re building cars that would’ve been hard, if not impossible, to imagine with a Mercedes badge on the hood not further than a decade ago.

The wave of three-pointed star changes has been set in motion for quite some time now, with all-wheel-drive AMGs being an example as good as any, but it hasn’t been until recently that the Germans have fully come out of the closet.

Perhaps the best exponent for this is the GLE Coupe. Many have rushed to point their finger at the sloping roofline incarnation of the future ML... ahem... GLE, stating that Mercedes has copied BMW’s X6.

No gentlemen, Stuttgart hasn’t waited for Munich to release the second generation of their chopped X5 because they wanted to imitate their rivals. Instead, Mercedes-Benz was initially reluctant to offer an SUV-coupe due to their old-school mentality.

Out of the well-known German triumvirate, Mercedes-Benz are by far the most traditional, keeping to their luxurious ways like paint sticks to a G-Class Professional. Nonetheless, parent company Daimler can’t thrive on ambitions alone, so the Detroit Auto Show in January will bring us the impractical side of the upcoming GLE. Until that happens, our rendering above should serve as a pretty good digital incarnation of the thing.

All this new forms shouldn’t be too confusing. After all, the Germans were... Germans and came up with a new, clear naming scheme for their ever-richer line-up. Yep, another major change and hence the aforementioned renaming of the upcoming ML.

You know what other big news Mercedes will bring to Cobo Hall in January? AMG Sport. While Audi has been building S cars for years now and BMW already has one year of making M Performance Automobiles, the Benz people postponed the launch of the in-between-standard-and-AMG line for as long as possible. In the end, they just couldn’t remain indifferent to the growing success of the AMG package, so, competition aside, they had to pull this move.

Mercedes’ tendency of blending its ideals with commercial appeal plans is also seen at the top of their two-seater line-up. Just look at the recently-launched Mercedes-AMG GT. This is more of a sportscar, while its predecessor, the SLS AMG, was a Grand Tourer with supercar performance. In turn, the SLS’ forebearer, the Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren, was almost a hypercar, so the gradual toning down process is obvious.

Then there’s the greatest change of them all, namely the splitting of the range under three different badges. In case you haven’t been off the internet all season, you that the Mercedes-Benz brand is now accompanied by the Mercedes-AMG and Mercedes-Maybach sub-brands.

Which brings me to the Maybach topic - I can’t blame Merc for doing what it has to do in order to stay competitive on the market. After all, BMW is going through an identity change too, but while the Bavarians appear to have lost themselves in their quest to move from driving machine to luxury machine, the dilution issue is significantly smaller with the three-pointed star brand.

Nonetheless, I can blame Mercedes for what they’ve done with the noble double M brand. Instead of giving Maybach its own identity like BMW and Volkswagen have successfully done with Rolls Royce and Bentley, respectively, Mercedes-Benz killed Maybach by expecting people not to notice their now-defunct 57 and 62 models were just supped-up S-Class versions.

After one decade of slow death Maybach was gone, but now Mercedes has re-relaunched the designation and, like I said, turned into one of its sub-brands. While this sounds a bit like resurrecting somebody only to use that person and kill him or her again (Dune fans know the Duncan ghola story), at least this time Mercedes is honest about its intentions for Maybach.

The good news is that we shouldn’t be too worried about the future of Mercedes-Benz. I’ve recently spent a few days with a V-Class and, despite the marketing, what I experienced was not so much as a family vehicle, as a van so lavish and refined to drive that it simply redefines the segment. In other words, Mercedes being Mercedes, which is brilliant.
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About the author: Andrei Tutu
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In his quest to bring you the most impressive automotive creations, Andrei relies on learning as a superpower. There's quite a bit of room in the garage that is this aficionado's heart, so factory-condition classics and widebody contraptions with turbos poking through the hood can peacefully coexist.
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