If it weren’t for the threepointed badge, at first blush you might mistake it for a BMW. But this car, pictured right, is Mercedes-Benz’s new GLE Coupe — its answer to arch-rival BMW’s X6 sports utility vehicle.
It’s the latest ‘niche’ Merc to be unveiled and will be on sale here next June from around £53,000, following its launch at the Detroit Motor Show next month.
M-B is going through something of an identity crisis with its naming structures. It says the GLE Coupe is based on its GLE SUV. This, in turn, was previously called the ML.
The new GLE Coupe is to get sporty styling, improved suspension and gearing for a sportier drive
And even the ML was originally going to be called the M-Class, until BMW scotched that one by claiming rights to the ‘M’, on which its sporty M-Power range is based.
I know this, because I was there and witnessed at close quarters the row that ensued at the Geneva Motor Show many moons ago when the prototype M-B M-Class was unveiled.
I may even have caused it. It all blew up when I innocently asked a senior German BMW executive, with whom I was dining, what he thought about his rival’s new M-Class, and showed him the press release and photo from the unveiling just an hour earlier.
All hell broke loose as Dr Wolfgang Reitzle — number two in BMW globally at the time — dashed from the table to confer with his boss, Bernd Pischetsrieder, on the next table, and returned to say they were calling in the lawyers.
That aside, the new GLE Coupe is to get sporty styling, improved suspension and gearing for a sportier drive, plus five different driving modes: Individual, Comfort, Slippery, Sport and Sport+. Each setting makes subtle or significant changes to the chassis, engine, suspension and steering systems, which will make the driving experience sportier or softer. Four-wheel drive is standard and there will be a new souped-up AMG Sport version, while the range is topped by the GLE 450 AMG, powered by a twin-turbo 3-litre V6 petrol engine developing 362bhp. The GLE 400 is a lower-powered version of the same engine, developing 328bhp.
Best-seller, however, is expected to be the sole diesel, GLE 350d, powered by a 3-litre V6 turbo-diesel with 254 bhp.
Expected options include Airmatic air suspension, 22 in alloy wheels (two inches bigger than standard), leather sports seats, and carbon-fibre trim. But it still looks rather like a BMW X6. Will the Munch company threaten to sue again, I wonder?
Order books are open for a limited run of just 500 Fiat 500X ‘Opening Edition’ crossover models — with delivery in May. Two options are available.
There’ll be 325 examples of the two-wheel drive City Look and 175 of the more rugged all-wheel drive (AWD) Off-Road Look.
The City Look comes with a load of kit including ‘Art Grey’ pastel paint; 18in alloy wheels, keyless entry and ignition and tinted rear windows.
The safety pack includes laneassist, blind-spot and parking aids, a reversing camera and a collision mitigation system controlling the brakes.
It is powered by a 1.4 MultiAir II 140bhp engine and priced from £17,595. Fiat says this price includes £1,725 worth of bonus equipment ‘at no extra cost’.
The beefier AWD version, available only in tri-coat ‘Amore Red’ is powered by the 2.0 Multi-Jet II 140bhp engine linked to a 9-speed automatic transmission as standard. It also has a long list of extras, including leather interior, rain and light sensors, powerfolding door mirrors, electrochromic rear view mirror, and steering wheel paddle shifters.
Added to this are powerful HID headlamps, an adjustable cargo floor, front floor mats and 18in alloy wheels. There’s a 3.5in screen to control the in-car entertainment and a 6.5in screen for the 3D satnav system. The model costs from £25,845.
Volkswagen is taking orders for its first petrol version of the Polo BlueMotion, priced from £14,730 for UK deliveries from March.
The German giant says the greenest petrol engine in the range is the frugal 1-litre BlueMotion TSI, pictured left, which averages 68.9mpg and emits just 94g/km of CO2. Yet it will still sprint to 62mph from a standing start in 10.5 seconds and reach a top speed of 119 mph.
Volkswagen is taking orders for its first petrol version of the Polo BlueMotion, priced from £14,730 for UK deliveries from March
This 95bhp engine joins the three-cylinder diesel 1.4-litre TDI BlueMotion engine that produces 75 bhp and returns 91.1 mpg while emitting just 82g/km of CO2.
The newcomer sports uniquely shaped front and rear bumpers, radiator grille, side skirts and rear roof spoiler, body coloured door handles and door mirrors with integrated indicators, front fog lights and special badging.
It has a height-adjustable driver’s seat, 15in alloys and even an in-built ‘trainer’ to give you hints and tips on how to drive in a more economical fashion by analysing journey patterns.