For Mercedes-Benz, the GLE Coupe is a better-late-than-never reply to BMW's successful coupe-like SUV.
"We don't want people to leave our brand to buy an X6," says Mercedes-Benz Australia Pacific spokesman Jerry Stamoulis.
Stuttgart's tardy reply to the ungainly X6 will reach Australia in September.
The all-wheel-drive GLE Coupe matches Munich's big pseudo-coupe SUV both in the awkward styling and high prices.
BMW launched the X6, a swoopy-roofed, low-tailed version of its popular X5 wagon SUV eight years ago. Despite a more cramped rear seat and much-reduced cargo capacity, the X6 appealed to the kind of buyer who cares much more about image than usefulness.
Mercedes-Benz was considering a similar vehicle even before the BMW went into production, according to Wolf-Dieter Kurz, a senior executive in the company's SUV and sports car product group. Instead Mercedes-Benz decided to invest in development of an entire new line-up of smaller cars, including the A-Class hatch, CLA sedan and GLA small SUV.
Inside Mercedes-Benz, 2015 is dubbed "Year of the SUV". The company is launching a bunch of important new SUVs, including the GLE Coupe and the closely related GLE wagon, an update of the long-running M-Class.
Inside Mercedes-Benz, 2015 is dubbed "Year of the SUV"
The Australian GLE Coupe line-up will closely follow BMW's formula for success. There will be turbo 3.0-litre diesel and petrol engines, labelled 350 d and 450.
Topping the range will be the Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S Coupe, with a super-powerful, hand-built 430kW 5.5-litre twin-turbo V8 from the performance division.
Least expensive will be the 190kW 350 d at $121,900, the 270kW 450 will be $141,900 and the sticker on the roaring 63 S will be $198,900. These prices are broadly similar to those charged by BMW.