The artist formerly known as ML or M-Class can now be found in an even more refined state called GLE. I test-drove the big turbo-diesel 400d model.
You should know: This is the German brand’s second-biggest SUV whose ancestors can lay claim to starting the current SUV trend. That’s right, you probably saw it here first, and it shows in every detail of the vehicle. Be it design or space, comfort and convenience, ride or safety kit, the GLE is a highly accomplished machine.
More info: If the exterior’s harmonious lines and modern elegance somehow don’t capture your attention, the sumptuous interior surely will. In keeping with current Mercedes design trends, there are large displays (for gauges and infotainment) atop a beautifully curved dashboard and equally attractive central tunnel or door trims.
What else? Those displays are pin-sharp, still legible in Namibia’s brightest March sunlight and absolutely bursting with information, entertainment and convenience features. The vehicle’s individualisation options seem almost endless while navigation, safety and communication interfaces are seamlessly integrated.
Why you shouldn’t: There’s a rather steep learning curve for the uninitiated and some features may seem O.T.T. at times yet Mercedes provided sufficient physical buttons (as well as on-screen shortcuts) for the more basic infotainment and ventilation functions. Oh, and a new GLE400d 4Matic costs about 1.6 million…
Why you should: I’ve left the best bit for now… the drive-train. Under the sculpted bonnet of this brutish Benz you will find a cutting-edge 2.9L turbo-diesel straight six which churns out up to 243kW or a breath-taking 700Nm from just 1,200rpm. Delivered via a smooth ‘n fast nine-speed automatic gearbox, there’s a seemingly endless supply of forward momentum.
Summary: Couple that to nine airbags, 630L boot, an adaptive all-wheel drive system and claimed average consumption of 7.5L/100km from an 80L tank, and you have one of the ultimate SUV’s on our country’s roads. Each GLE is sold with a two-year warranty and a five-year 100,000km maintenance plan.
|Engine:||2,925cc i-6 Turbo-diesel|
|Transmission:||9-speed Automatic, AWD|
|Avg. cons.:||Claimed 7.5L/100km|
|0-100km/h:||8.06 seconds (claimed 5.7)|
|Top Speed:||Claimed 245km/h|