This is the all-new Mercedes-Benz GLE and doesn’t it look handsome?
At first glance it might seem a tad vanilla compared to other vehicles in its segment, but it the flesh the proportions are spot on. It has an elegance few others in this segment can match. Not bad for a car that started its life as a proposed replacement for the famous G-Class.
That’s right folks – the GLE, or ML as it used to be known, was meant to replace the G-Class, right up until the point where Mercedes realised they were actually working on something different and completely new. And current Mercedes South Africa co-ceo, Johannes Fritz, should know. He was there back in the early 90s while the German brand was working on what would eventually become the first SUV from a luxury manufacturer.
For now, back to the newest GLE.
It’s available with three engine options. The first is turbocharged four-cylinder turbodiesel that carries a 300d badge. It’s engine delivers 180kW and 500Nm.
Next up is an all-new in-line six-cylinder turbocharged diesel with 243kW and 700Nm, called the 400d.
And finally, a six-cylinder engine systematically electrified with 48-volt technology, called the 450. It has 270 kW and 500 Nm of torque, with a further 250 Nm of torque available via EQ Boost over short periods.
All engines are mated to a nine-speed automatic gearbox.
With the four cylinder engines, 4MATIC all-wheel drive is realised with a transfer case which transmits the drive torque to the axles in a fixed ratio of 50:50 percent.
A transfer case with an electronically controlled multi -disc clutch is used in the GLE 450 or GLE 400 d. This allows a variable transfer of drive torque from 0100 percent (torque on demand) between the axles. Also new, and available as an option, is a transfer case specially configured for superior off-road driving characteristics. In addition to the controlled multi-disc clutch with torque-ondemand function, this has a reduction gear set and an automatic locking effect from 0–100 percent for off-road driving.
The two fully networked transfer cases with torque on demand allow a further improvement in handling safety and agility also when driving on the road. This is achieved in particular during cornering, by specifically influencing the degree of yaw to induce oversteer or understeer.
It might not look like it, but the all-new GLE is exceptionally good at getting dirty. We put it through a somewhat tricky obstacle course and it passed with flying colours. It takes a second or so for the electronics to realise where the power should go and all it requires from the driver is a steady throttle input. Should the GLE bog down, one simply presses down a bit harder until it starts moving again. It’s an impressively flattering system, perfectly suited to the nature of the GLE.
We didn’t spend a lot of time behind the wheel on the road, but from our initial impression we can tell you that the ride is plush, rather than sporty. It seems to hit the target bang-on, but we hope to spend more time with it soon to get a better feel for it.
Interior wise it’s a beautiful thing. Bigger in every direction, the GLE can now also be ordered as a seven seater, making it one of only a few vehicles in its segment to offer this option.
Mercedes includes a decent amount of standard features and the quality of the materials is superb. The new GLE is a giant leap forward compared to the old model and the new generation of connected features should make living with this car a joyful experience.
|GLE 300 d 4MATIC||GLE 400 d 4MATIC||GLE 450 4MATIC|
|Number of cylinders/arrangement||4/in-line||6/in-line||6/in-line|
|Rated output (kW)||180||243||270|
|Extra output from EQ Boost (kW/hp)||–||–||16/22|
|Rated torque (Nm)||500||700||500|
|Add. torque from ECO Boost (Nm)||–||–||250|
|Fuel consumption combined (l/100 km)||6.4-6.1||7,5-7,0||9.4-8.3|
|Combined CO2 emissions (g/km)||161-169||184-199||190-214|
|Emission class||Euro 6d-TEMP||Euro 6d||Euro 6d-TEMP|
|Acceleration 0-100 km/h (s)||7.2||5.8||5.7|
|Top speed (km/h)||225||240||250|
|Starting Retail Price||R 1 210 500||R1 351 200||R1 329 400|