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2016 Mercedes-Benz GLE63 S Coupe

2016 Mercedes-Benz GLE63 S Coupe review


Some Mercedes Benzes absorb the AMG treatment beautifully. C63? Love it. SL65? Right on. GT S Coupe? Yes please …

… Bringing us to the GLE63 S Coupe, a tallish E-Class-based crossover with the hand-built 577-hp, 5.5-liter twin turbo V8 (one-man, one-engine!), hunkered-down suspension, AMG instruments, you get the picture -- it has all the hot stuff one expects from AMG, along with the history and racing chops that have symbolized AMG (hello, 500E) since founders Hans-Werner Aufrecht and Erhard Melcher started the joint.

Wait a sec, did I use the "C" word? Yup, the GLE63 S Coupe is a crossover. Get used to it: Automakers are scrambling to market every crossover variant they can think of as fast as they can. The variety is important to note. (As an old friend used to say: I want what I want when I want it and I want it now!)

2017 Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class first drive

Still superb


What is it?

With the 2017 Mercedes-Benz GLS, Mercedes gives its already-outstanding GL-Class SUV a mid-cycle refresh with a more refined interior, some new sheet metal and a new name. Already among our favorite vehicles in the luxe-SUV segment (or any other, for that matter), the big Benz impresses as a seven-seater that actually fits seven adults, all while towing a boat, without feeling floaty and underdamped.

The downside is that with the rear seats down, space is ample, but with the seats up, you’ll be hard-pressed to fit more than a couple of suitcases. Those thinking a GLS will replace the family Suburban will need to carefully evaluate passenger and space requirements.

On the exterior, the refresh is minor over the old GL, but does include new sheetmetal ahead of the A-pillar and a restyled rear bumper. The new front fascia looks sportier than the outgoing model, and the available AMG version takes that to the next level with an even more exaggerated look.

2016 Mercedes-Benz GLE450 AMG review

Killer crossover coupe?


The Mercedes-Benz GLE seems to be an answer to the question, “Shouldn’t Mercedes have something to compete with the BMW X6?”

I’m not sure who asked that question, or why, but here we are. Still, after a few days with the bubble-shaped AMG450, I have a little better sense of what this car is truly for.

I had the AMG for our first weekend of snow here in Michigan, and on those aggressive Pirelli P-Zeros, things got a little dicey. On my first expressway jaunt, when there were just a few slippery inches on the ground, the car felt sloppy. I looked at the window sticker and didn’t see the 4Matic notation, which made me even more nervous. I ended up putting the car in snow mode, which softened up the throttle, allowing me to use my normal pedal force without flying off the road. When I found it was 4Matic-equipped, I got a little more aggressive and found the 4WD and traction control system working in unity, no matter what I did with the right pedal. The porky curb weight of nearly 5,000 pounds surely helped it push through the slushy mess.

2016 Mercedes GLC 300 review

Baby Benz hauler hits the right notes


What is it?

Essentially, the 2016 Mercedes GLC is a simple evolution of the outgoing GLK. Not as simply, this is an off-road capable C-Class luxe-people hauler. The GLK did reasonably well in the small-luxury SUV department, but one fairly common complaint was that it was too small -- especially in the cargo area. In revising the platform, Mercedes pulled and stretched this SUV in every direction: it’s 2 inches wider in total width, gains 4.6 inches in total length and has 0.3 inch more headroom.

To match the stretched shell, the wheelbase also gains 3.6 inches, and the track width front/rear tacks on a respective 1.9-inch/0.8-inch bump. All those numbers boil down to a bigger, wider and more stable-feeling ‘ute than its predecessor. 

In pursuit of lower emissions, the V6 from the GLK has been dropped in lieu of a turbocharged I4. Not that it’s in bad company: the Audi Q5

First drive

2016 Mercedes-Benz GLE450 AMG Coupe


What is it?

The Mercedes-Benz GLE450 AMG Coupe is Benz’s answer to the BMW X6. Benz’s old ML is now called GLE and the Coupe is the ML/GLE with -- you guessed it -- more of a coupe body. The GLE450’s name reflects Benz’s recent nomenclature reorg, conceptually linked to the E-Class, mechanically with the ML: All Benz crossovers are now GLs and have a letter telling us where they sit in relation to the cars. So the GLE occupies roughly the same spot in the SUV hierarchy that the E-Class occupies on the car side.

So basically, the GLE450 AMG Coupe is more emotional than rational. The emphasis is on style, design and sporting feel. To that end, the Coupe is significantly restyled front and rear and, most obviously, through its sloping roof and raked pillars.

First drive

2016 Mercedes-Benz C450 AMG 4Matic


What is it?

Mercedes' C450 AMG 4Matic is a model we first saw at the Detroit auto show ("Phoenix, Rising," Feb. 2). The car arrives here about the time you read this. If you’re confused about exactly what it is, the idea here -- according to Benz -- is a sporty sedan offering performance between the C400 4Matic, the car the 450 replaces, and the mighty C63.

When we first saw the C300 and C400 we said they were “gorgeous cars from any angle.” That goes for the C450, too. The front end’s AMG air intakes and badges nicely complement the standard C’s long hood and short rear decklid and are a hint something’s goin’ on here beyond the 400. Don’t expect outright C63 performance, though. Think Cadillac VSport or Audi S, or perhaps C63 Lite.

2015 Mercedes-Benz CLA250 4Matic review notes

premium, luxury or neither?


EDITOR WES RAYNAL: I like the CLA250 -- it’s stylish and damn near proportionally perfect to my eye. It’s well equipped and has a nice cabin worthy of a more expensive car (though the back-seat room is tight). The chassis feels sure-footed, and since this is all-wheel drive there’s grip aplenty. Like other CLAs I’ve driven, there’s a weird sensation, a lag, when you shift the car into gear. Put the car in drive and nothing happens until you give it some throttle, then the car can jerk forward. Like I said, weird, even though the more time I spent behind the wheel the smoother and more practiced I got at launching.

I don’t know if it’s the transmission or the turbo-four causing the above mentioned. Maybe it’s both. Once underway everything’s fine: plenty of power and this is one hell of a flexible four-cylinder (it’s also noisy at idle). The car has a light-on-its-feet feeling. It’s agile. The ride is firm(ish), but potholes didn’t seem to upset things. As I said, the grip is high, which allows slicing through corners quickly -- there’s little body roll.

2016 Mercedes-Benz GLC

2016 Mercedes-Benz GLC300 first drive


What is it?

The Mercedes-Benz GLC will soon be Mercedes’ best-selling SUV, and maybe even the best-selling Mercedes, period. 

OK. That assertion is ours, prognosticating, but it doesn't seem like a stretch. The 2016 GLC dusts the SUV it replaces -- the 2015 GLK -- in just about every respect. The GLC is bigger, more solid, more comfortable and more efficient than the GLK, and probably better looking. It makes a much stronger claim to best in a very competitive class of compact, luxury-brand SUVs.

The new GLC swaps the K in GLK (Kompakt, auf Deutch) for a C to match Mercedes’ compact C-Class sedan. Henceforth, all Mercedes unibody SUVs will be designated GL, with a third letter distinguishing size or market segment: GLA (subcompact), GLC, GLE (mid-size) and GLS (large). The original, 36-year-old body-on-frame G-class (for geländewagen) will continue in its own, rarified world. 

For the first time, the S63 AMG Coupe comes standard in the U.S. market with the AMG Performance 4MATIC all-wheel drive system.

2015 Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG Coupe review notes


EDITOR WES RAYNAL: Interesting to get out of the long-term F-Type Jag and into this. In some ways they’re completely different cars, in some ways they’re similar -- they both look terrific and go like stink.

The S63 is just gorgeous inside and out. Not flashy (well OK, maybe a little flashy), but curvy and beautiful. Dignified. It wafts along in town like the luxury car it is, but tromp on the gas pedal and whoa baby!! Hang on! In the conditions I drove it in (rain, wet slick pavement) I came nowhere near the potential here. Not even close, even with the all-wheel-drive stability. I’m sure the car could take way more than I threw at it, but I’ll be damned if I was going to be the dork who banged it into a clapped-out Escort.

Benz quotes a sub-4.0 second zero-to-60 time and I have no reason to doubt. The 577-hp, twin-turbo V8 feels like, well, 577 hp. Vaughn once called the hp number “meaty.” I’ll say -- the coupe’s a rocket. Midrange speed and power, say 35-80 mph, is even more impressive than 0-60 -- that’s where the car really feels like a missile. For a 4,678-pounder, it’s remarkable. In fact, it is for most any car.

The AMG 2.0-liter turbo engine is one of the most powerful series-production four-cylinder turbo engines in the world.

High-powered hatch

2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA45 AMG 4Matic review notes


ASSOCIATE EDITOR GRAHAM KOZAK: I’ve been pondering the CLA45 AMG and GLA45 AMG, plus the non-AMG cars upon which they’re based, since they debuted. I think I’m a bit closer to figuring out why they don’t sit quite right with me after driving this GLA45 AMG: They’re not very well-matched to the hypothetical lifestyles of the young, up-and-coming first-time Mercedes buyers we’re told they’re designed to appeal to.

This AMG-tuned take on the potentially useful GLA hatchback, for example, is fun to wail on when you’ve got open road ahead of you. Unfortunately, that only serves to underscore how un-fun it is to drive on city and suburban streets.

There are truly nice elements here. The seats are rigid and well-bolstered, but you’d expect that in an AMG, so no real complaints; plus, they’re thin and attractive, with metal-accented shells that seem a bit like something out of a concept. The steering wheel is suitably chunky and nice to grip. Love or hate the display screen plopped onto the dash, the infotainment system is at least straightforward and reliable.

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