As part of the realignment of model names, all Mercedes SUVs have a ‘GL’ prefix.

Which does not explain the new-for-2016 GLE Coupe which is neither a coupe nor an SUV.

The bubble-shaped newcomer is a large four-door with a sloping roofline and a big hatch, making it a… hatchback?

Whatever you wish to call it, the GLE has visual presence.

The distinctive shape draws lots of stares on the road and people go out of the their way to peek at and in it when parked.

I would describe it as a stylish SUV with the profile of a coupe — perhaps an SUC (Sport UItility Coupe)?

From the rear doors forward it is a clone of the new 2016 GLE SUV. Code-named C292 internally, the GLE Coupe places heavy emphasis on style and driving dynamics.

The interior features the tight panel gaps and top-quality materials expected of Mercedes. Leather, matte-finish wood and real metal trim have been artfully applied throughout the instrument and door panels.

This is a big vehicle with plenty of head, elbow and legroom — in front, the sloping roofline inhibits rear seat and cargo space as well as visibility to the rear quarters.

The new GLE SUV replaces the ML and its ‘Coupe’ sibling serves as the halo vehicle of the GLE line.

The GLE Coupe is a rolling showcase for technology and safety features. Two that were most appreciated during a dark, misty and lengthy drive at night were the superb LED headlights and the Magic Vision Control wipers — simply the most effective windshield washing system I have encountered after driving more than 3,000 vehicles over the years.

The fluid is sprayed directly unto the glass from more than a dozen nozzles built into the heated wiper arm. The amount of fluid is altered according to conditions and comes from the leading edge of the wiper, making it impervious to the wind and/or airflow over the glass. Awesome!

The Collision Prevention Assist Plus system standard on all models, provides visual and acoustic warning of an imminent rear-end collision, braking if the driver fails to react to these warnings in time.

The Dynamic Select system uses a switch on the console to alter the driving dynamics — Comfort for everyday use, Sport lowers the vehicle 15 mm and sharpens throttle, steering and transmission response.

The Slippery mode adjusts throttle and transmission sensitivity and ESP intervention points while the individual setting allows the driver to surf among a variety of settings to personalize things to his or her preference.

The new GLE comes in a trio of powertrain configurations: the 350d with a 249-horsepower, six-cylinder, twin-turbo diesel, the AMG 450 with a twin-turbo 362 horsepower V6 gasoline engine and the AMG GLE 63 S with a 577-horsepower twin-turbo V8 monster from the wizards at AMG. The 350d and 450 AMG get the company’s new nine-speed automatic transmission but the potent 63 has too much torque for that unit, so it gets a seven-speed automatic developed by AMG.

The test car was the ‘entry-level’ diesel.

Let’s address the elephant in the room right off the top. Throughout the current fiasco involving diesels engines, there has never been any question about those produced by Mercedes.

The diesel is a mainstay at Mercedes, so much so that it serves as the entry-level engine, not an extra cost option, on many vehicles. A decade ago, Mercedes introduced a method of treating exhaust gases to remove harmful nitrogen oxides.

It involves automatically injecting a liquid called AdBlue into the exhaust stream at pre-determined intervals, breaking the harmful nitrogen oxides into harmless water and nitrogen.

The result is a true clean diesel that meets all emission standards globally. This one puts out a prodigious 457 lb-ft of torque allowing the big vehicle to scoot from rest to 100 km/h in seven seconds.

It also comes with a fuel-saving stop/start system that shuts the engine down when at rest and a range of almost 1,000 km on a tank of fuel.

Fuel mileage is suitably impressive. I averaged 9.1 litres/100 km over several hundred kilometres of mixed conditions. This in a vehicle that weighs almost 5,000 lbs!

Acceleration is only one area where the Coupe impresses. This tall and heavy vehicle has an amazing ability to tackle the turns with an alacrity that defies the laws of physics.

There is very little lean in the corners. Aiding in such behaviour is the latest iteration of the 4Matic system which judiciously applies power to each wheel according to conditions, excellent in slippery conditions and when pushing hard on a twisty road or on/off ramp.

When behaving in a more grown-up manner, the big hatchback provides a quiet and extremely comfortable ride. The monstrous, 21-inch, low-profile tires did not take too kindly to sharp changes in road surface, like potholes, but you get the impression this big beast is merely pushing them into submission rather than being upset.

If you are looking for the presence, elevated seating position and all-season grip of an SUV, but place driving dynamics and individuality higher on your wish list than rear seat and cargo space, check out the 2016 Mercedes GLE Coupe