Mercedes-Benz Australia senior manager of public relations, product and corporate affairs, David McCarthy, was unusually reticent to name the GLE Coupe’s competition, despite it obviously being a direct rival for the BMW X6.
“This model will sell well in Australia, although I won’t name any competitors yet,” McCarthy told CarAdvice.
“It will go on sale this year, although there might be a small delay with some of the models.”
On the subject of model grades, McCarthy suggested Australia would get ‘three to four’ different grades, including the range topping AMG version.
In case you’re not up to speed, the GLE Coupe is based on the existing ML-Class SUV, which will be renamed GLE. The GLE Coupe will be more sports-focused than any other Mercedes-Benz SUV, gaining a more hunkered-down stance than the ML replacement though thanks to a wider track – 3mm broader at the front and 60mm wider at the rear.
Mercedes-Benz chairman Dieter Zetsche told media at the Geneva motor show that the GLE was an important model for the German brand.
“This car brings cool design, sleek lines and strong SUV genes combined with driving dynamics and performance,” Zetsche said. “It’s the sportiest SUV combined with the most functional coupe we’ve ever made.”
Zetsche went on to explain that the GLE Coupe in AMG form will open up a new gateway to the world of AMG for people who want to add racetrack-bred dynamics to their daily SUV driving.
The GLE is an example of Mercedes-Benz competing in a niche that was created by its German rival BMW with the X6 – and McCarthy said demand drives new model innovation.
“Sometimes you create a niche, like we did with CLS or even CLA Shooting Brake,” McCarthy told CarAdvice. “Sometimes you build a car to compete in a niche segment that is already there.”
It’s clear, though, that Mercedes-Benz sees this niche as one it needed to compete in as soon as possible.
“Obviously you produce a car because you believe it will sell,” McCarthy said. “You design, engineer and produce a vehicle based on demand and while the GLE won’t be a massive seller for us it will grow incrementally and it will sell well.”
McCarthy said the GLE Coupe is likely to bring new buyers into the Mercedes-Benz fold, rather than steal buyers from other segments that Mercedes-Benz already competes in. “
Some of the big interest in this model has already come from customers new to the brand and much of it has been related to the AMG variant,” he said.
McCarthy confirmed that the range-topping variant – called the Mercedes-AMG GLE63 Coupe – will definitely make it’s way to Australia once supply can be nailed down. While McCarthy couldn’t confirm the exact lineup at this stage, but we will report back once that has been decided.