Asking BMW X6 M50d to meet Mercedes GL 400d Coupe
As a rule, it’s our workmate Alex who is on the other side of the camera in our reviews. He is a “director-operator”. That is, a rare specialist who performs both duties at the same time. Our Alex is a petrolhead and bimmer lover with experience. More recently, he even changed the 5 Series E61 wagon to the diesel short-wheelbase F 7 Series. And then he declares that a market newcomer, the Mercedes-Benz GLE 400 d Coupe, around which the test is organized, is more preferable for him of the heroes of this work. I ask him to explain himself. As a representative of the generation that explains itself by memes, he sends me two pictures.
Let’s omit the slight inaccuracy of personification. If two-ton diesel crossovers which cost big money are really represented as people, then these guys of Alex’s age need to add 20 years and 70 kilograms each. But the essence of the issue is grasped quite accurately: the main problem of the BMW X6 is design. I say “problem” because the behavior of the 400-hp X corresponds to the image of a freak in fashionable sweatpants only at a very high speed. In such modes which an ordinary owner doesn’t have even in a nightmare.
And in everyday life, the X6 M50d gives a head start in the “plush behavior” to the glamorous fat man GLE. It sways slightly on the waves, swallows road trifles without a trace… The big question is who is Mercedes in the traditional sense. The active steering mechanism means that the steering wheel requires only two and a quarter turns in parking modes. And the rear passengers feel how the wheels are deflected by a small angle under them for greater maneuverability.
This is my first personal acquaintance with the X6, and it pleasantly surprises with its versatility. It is as if two entities are enclosed in it. One is smooth, extremely easy to operate, afraid only of large potholes. The other one is tight, like a jerk from the launch, and intrusive, like a synthetic baritone of the engine from the speakers. You drive slowly on a pair of small superchargers and rest. You rush on large ones with high pressure and go all out.
The nature of the GLE Coupe is more homogeneous. The Mercedes is a bit simple on the move, always a bit harsh – so as not to get outplayed when you need to go fast. Losing no more than half a second on acceleration to a hundred km/h, according to Racelogic, the GLE can keep an unexpectedly decent pace in turns. It is simply achieved the old way: without the participation of complex mechatronics like BMW adaptive stabilizers, a full controlled chassis and electronically controlled locking. Therefore, the Benz is constantly in good shape – even on the way to a mani.
As compensation for the low comfort level, there is a light steering wheel, large screens and a beautiful interface. The interior of the GLE doesn’t narrow immediately behind the center pillar, there is more space in the back: both on the seat and in the trunk. In addition, the Benz is neutral externally. This is how the X6 could look in a relaxed Comfort mode. Before it exhaled, stuck out its ribs, bared its teeth, bent its head and rushed. Mercedes designers got a solid image, although a little heavy and too harmless.
Each of these cars masks its capabilities. Under the aggressive appearance of the BMW, an affectionate, sometimes even indecisive, bear hides. Either it gets confused in pairs of connected turbochargers, or in planet gears. It is difficult for it to accelerate with a single shift down, and the change of gears up is sometimes accompanied by jerks. In turn, the “soap” with a three-pointed star is able to “jump around the bathtub” so briskly that you will break all your wife’s cosmetics while you catch it. Despite the greater number of gears, the Mercedes is more unambiguous in reaction to a gas pedal, it reaches the peak of traction earlier.
The aesthetics of modern BMWs are not close to me. Nevertheless, when choosing how to get home from work, I take the key to the M50d. A steering wheel is slightly heavier here, but the effort on it naturally spites the lightweight, artificially centered Mercedes one. A comfortable seat perfectly distributes the load. Turn signal controls are heavier, fittings are more expensive, projection on the windshield doesn’t take up much space. Also buttons.
The cabin is quieter not only because of the double glazing, which can (should!) be ordered for the GLE for a lot of money, but also thanks to a more efficient decoupling from its own noise, as well as road one. Finally, the adaptive cruise control, which is vital in my part of the city and region, is better configured. No need to push the X6 accelerator after stopping, it slows down more gently, and I don’t hear the BMW rubbing the pads in a crawl mode, unlike the GLE.
If you travel on the back seat, you don’t care about the noise and vibraphone – I fit only in the Mercedes. In addition, the GLE copes better with speed bumps, and there is less chance of hitting your head. But it can’t dissolve the stabilizers, like the X, and therefore makes you wobble from side to side, following the cross profile of the asphalt. For the sake of truth, any of our crossovers can rock you: the Mercedes makes you a tumbler, and you move mainly vertically on a cramped BMW seat..
In my opinion, the M50d offers a wider range of possibilities for comparable money. And it’s not for nothing that people much more often vote for the X6 with their feet, and the expensive superdiesels number in the hundreds. However, I have data at my disposal for an incomplete period of time. Mercedes refuses to provide current statistics until the end of the year. Apparently, manufacturers are trying to control the negative agenda in a falling market, but secrets only make it more depressing. It is clear that the GLE C167 hasn’t gained momentum yet, but something tells me that the status quo will remain.
Why does the relatively rare, niche Mercedes seem like a stereotyped choice? Because it is designed for a conservative and little lazy consumer. Have you seen what the Mercedes online configurator has turned into? Description of options – promises of a better life. Both funny and sad. The client for whom this is written simply goes to the showroom of a top brand and chooses a certain premium standard. And it’s okay, if they buy a mandatory, like a uniform, S-Class or an uncontested G-Wagon. But the GLE is hardly a default option. Even despite the friendly design and multimedia freshness, this Mercedes is not good enough not to look around.
However, our petrolhead Alex turned onto the Mercedes. And there are commentators in my social networks who are convinced that they are going up, moving from the X of the previous generation to the fresh GLE Coupe. And how much does the quality of life improve when you change an old Mercedes to a new one? Maybe someone will share their experience here. Not to say that the C292 model has aged at once with the release of the C167 hatch, at least externally. But now it is finally clear how dull the interior is there..
To claim that the X6 has made a grandiose qualitative leap in the riding disciplines relative to its predecessor is to lie. However, I have the impression that BMW is evolving more intensively than Mercedes. I wanted to add that it still sets the bar in the hatch crossover segment. But I remembered about the 900 N•m eight-cylinder SQ8. The topic of superdiesel can’t be considered closed without Audi’s participation.
The test participants have a lot in common. Change their bodies and it will look quite organic. Even the problems are similar: from poor visibility and sensitivity to ruts to futile attempts of a car to become a digital hub and general consumer prejudices against disposable cars. (No one seems to be satisfied with the quality and service anymore. Except Lexus and successful Land Rover owners).
Therefore, I am not advocating for BMW, but for you to test-drive as many options as possible when choosing a car. Let it be by force, in spite of a sense of beauty – but don’t go along the beaten path: from Benz to Benz, from bimmer to bimmer. The right thing is sometimes not where you expect. Even if the search leads to a starting point, you return to it, understanding yourself better. And the choice of car becomes more personal.
This is a translation. You can read the original here: https://www.drive.ru/test-drive/bmw/mercedes/5f7dbf1aec05c4627e000020.html