A 4 x 4 too far, or does Mercedes have the answers?
Manufactures continue their unrelenting march to fill every unchartered gap in the new car market. New models spring up from all angles; four door coupés, a mini 4x4, and a huge Mini.
One area that continues to puzzle me is the desire for a 4x4 coupé. I’ve only ever thought of this sector as one that provides high-riding, spacious, practical cars with off-road ability. Thus preventing home detention should a flurry of snow fall.
BMW saw this differently and in 2008 added the X6 to its showroom forecourts. A sporty, four-door, high-riding, four-wheeled-drive, coupé, 4x4. The use of the word ‘coupé’ (a two door car with a sloping roof) for cars with anything other than two doors and a boot, not a hatch or four doors, still sits uncomfortably.
The X6 aimed to be a stylish, sporty X5 with a higher price tag. It has a less comfortable - I mean sporty - ride with less practicality. The X6 became the new Marmite of the car world; you either love it or hate it.
I’m somewhere in the middle. It seems awkward to me, a bit chopped off above the rear lights where the X5 continues. Even the new improved X6, which launched last year, and the all-new X4 retain these design traits. Do I want to spend more money than on an excellent X3 or X5 for a less attractive car with reduced practicality? No. If you want a coupé in the same price bracket, surely you opt for a 6-Series or 4-Series - especially with the X-Drive options now available.
The pariah that is the 4x4 coupé appears to have been resolved. A new car has rolled out of the shadows and promises to show BMW how it should be done, no less from their greatest rival.
It’s late to the party - in the same way that the 6-Series four-door coupé arrived late to the Mercedes CLS party - but it’s better late than never.
Introducing the Mercedes GLE Coupé. For me, Mercedes has got the GLE Coupé’s proportions spot on. The front end looks great; purposeful, commanding. It has a move-out-of-my-way manly front end.
Power lines stretch effortlessly from the bonnet up a slanted A-pillar into a graceful downward sloping roof, coupé like. The roof starts to fall just behind the front row of seats. Like a beginners’ ski slope, smoothly flowing into the rear window, and to the boot lid. To finish the car’s profile, there’s a small ski jump spoiler. The rear of the car is sporting a similar set up to the current S-Class Coupé. It all works well.
This car gives the sector credibility. A car that makes the 4x4 coupé an obvious choice if you want a ‘drive safely in an inch of snow while peering over the hedgerows’ type of car.
For me, my prejudice against this sector has diminished somewhat. It now makes a little more sense than it did.