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First Impressions: New Mercedes-Benz GLE

September 15, 2019

In 1997 Mercedes-Benz founded the premium SUV segment with the launch of the M-Class. Since then, more than two million customers have decided in favour of the off-roader worldwide. When Mercedes introduced the new model GLE in South Africa earlier this month, it was only fitting that we attend to experience the vehicle first hand.

First Impressions Count

At a glance the Mercedes-Benz GLE has not changed much from its predecessor. In fact, it looks like it’s just been given a face lift. Personally, I still enjoy the shape, with its smooth aerodynamic lines it still appeals to both masculine and feminine clientele. The exterior also embodies classic Mercedes-Benz with luxury and elegance still being prominent with the car. The interior is comfortably spacious and with that the GLE flaunts high technology of the MBUX system on its larger infotainment screen system.

No One GLE Should Have All This Power

The Mercedes Benz GLE features a completely new six-cylinder petrol engine and four-cylinder diesel and it also introduces a new control concept with innovative driving assistants. The six-cylinder diesel 400 d SUV is also the very first SUV that’s meets the coming Euro 6d standard. The GLE 300 d 4MATIC runs a four-cylinder engine that comes with 180kW and 500 Nm of torque, the 400 d 4MATIC runs a six-cylinder engine that produces 243kW and 700 Nm of torque, the higher spec 450 d 4MATIC outputs 270kW and 500 Nm of torque.

All The Tech

The new, optional Mercedes Benz User Experience (MBUX) that we first saw in the A-Class when it launched back then, is built in the large screen in the cockpit. The wide screen is impressively touch screen and makes for easy navigation when switching through different modes. The high-resolution screen also allows for larger icon display making them more legible and allows for incredible graphics. One unique capability I enjoyed from the MBUX system is the ability to use predictive functions to anticipate the driver’s wishes, such as a regularly used navigation destination.

As mentioned, the interior has significantly more leg space especially for passengers in the rear this is because the GLE has increased the wheel base by 80mm.

The Mercedes Benz GLE embodies and exudes luxury and with that I was a little worried when we took it off road. But car handled well which left me very impressed. The 4MATIC all-wheel drive really came to play in loose sand conditions. It does this rocking motion that allows the car to loosen itself from sandy pits, too. Overall, the GLE off road left me speechless and I was glad to experience the amount of tech and innovation that went under that body to make it quite the off-roader.

With that, we have established that this new GLE is not just a great looking car but also quite the performer when it comes to off-road capabilities. On road the car is uber comfortable and this would definitely make for an awesome long distance SUV for any size family and also perfect for urban use. All variants use the 9G-TRONIC automatic transmission with a 0-100 km/h said to be 7.2 seconds on the GLE 300 d 4MATIC, 5.8 seconds in the GLE 400 d 4MATIC and 5.7 seconds in the GLE 450 d 4MATIC. Personally the GLE left me impressed with its off-road features, luxe and comfortable interior, impeccable sound system and more than capable engine derivatives. The GLE has a gentle but exciting roar when you pull off in sports mode, the smooth transmission is a mild addition to appeasing nature of the GLE.

The new Mercedes-Benz retails from R 1 210 500 for the GLE 300 d 4MATIC, R 1 351 200 for the GLE 400 d 4MATIC and R 329 400 for the GLE 450 d 4MATIC. Our full review and performance status will be shared soon.