Sport Utility Vehicles (SUV) are all the rage right now. Gone are the days it used to be looked down as a soccer mom’s runabout. These days, they are the prime choice for everyone who wants to be noticed. Mercedes caught on quick to the idea and unleashed a whole range of premium SUVs onto us, thus completing the company’s product lineup and are ready to take on its German (and Scandinavian) rivals for a slice of the luxury SUV segment here in Malaysia.
Mercedes-Benz Malaysia (MBM) is offering a couple of jungle-juice and oil burning variants for the models on sale here. Starting with the GLE 250d 4Matic followed up by the GLE 400 4Matic. The GLE Coupe (spied in mid-December 2015) on the other hand, is available in either GLE 400 or GLE 450 AMG guises. In Land Rover lingo, the GLE is a Range Rover Vogue while the GLE Coupe is the Range Rover Sport. Apart from the unorthodox analogy, both these models and their variants make up the bulk of the offering from MBM.
|Name||GLE 250d 4Matic||GLE 400 4Matic||GLE Coupe 400 4Matic||GLE Coupe 450 AMG 4Matic|
|Engine||4-cyl inline Diesel Direct Injection Turbo||Twin-Turbo V6 Petrol||Twin-Turbo V6 Petrol||Twin-Turbo V6 Petrol|
|Transmission||9G-Tronic 9-Speed Automatic||7G-Tronic 7-Speed Automatic||9G-Tronic 9-Speed Automatic|
|Max Power||204 hp||333 hp||333 hp||367 hp|
|Max Torque||500 Nm||480 Nm||480 Nm||520 Nm|
|0-100 / Top Speed (km/h)||8.6s / 212 km/h||6.1s / 247 km/h||5.9s / 247 km/h||5.7s / 250 km/h|
Let’s start with the GLE. For starters, not much has changed since its ‘predecessor’ with the exception of the front end that has gotten a bit of a facelift to bring it in line with Merc’s new design language. The GLE sports a new dual Twin Blade radiator grille, AMG-type bumpers, headlamps with the brand’s new ‘eyebrow’ DRL design, flared wings and a new bonnet with a couple of power domes moulded onto it. It’s a combination of these minor tweaks that gives the GLE a rather bold and masculine stance.
Merc also slapped the GLE with a huge set of wheels that further echoes the front end’s demeanour. Even on the base model GLE 250d, 20-inch wheels come fitted as standard while the range topper comes with 21-inch 5-spoke alloy wheels wrapped with chunky Pirelli rubbers.
MBM has finally brought in its BMW X6 competitor. And just like its Bavarian rival, the GLE Coupe is no longer in the category of SUVs, but rather a Sports Utility Coupe (Bimmer calls theirs a Sports Activity Vehicle). But as far as looks go, it’s pretty hard to pull the GLE away from its Coupe sibling. The GLE Coupe comes with a host of AMG-line trimmings such as the single-blade radiator grille. It’s when you make your way around the back of the GLE Coupe, that you’ll be able to pull the twin siblings apart.
First thing you’ll notice aside from the huge 22-inch wheels (yes, 22-inch) shod with 325mm broad Pirelli’s is that the GLE Coupe has a pretty large rear end. But few features do work in tandem with that styling decision such as the embedded exhaust tips with chrome finishers, the very coupe-like tail lamp design with a bit chrome trim bridging them both and thevertical gills on each side of the fender gives the GLE Coupe a living persona.
Interestingly while the GLC’s interior is remarkably reminiscent to the W205 C-Class, this new GLE bears not much resemblance to the newly debuted W213 E-Class. Obviously when it comes to selecting your preferred interior, you’d be spoilt for choice with the wide range of different hide colour choices and trim options. And especially for the sporty minded customers, the AMG carbon-fibre trim is up for grabs. The inside of a Merc, no matter the model, is always the business end of the Three-Pointed Star.
Having said that, both the GLE and the Coupe share fairly similar interior layouts with one another, but everything else can be specified via the options list. Did we mention the racy flat-bottomed steering wheel in the Coupe? They also came with Merc’s new COMMAND Infotainment controller with a touchpad ergonomically placed for ease of use. The Command is displayed via an 8-inch TFT display housed in the centre dash.
While the GLC gets a 590-watt Burmester sound system, the range topping GLE 450 AMG Coupé features the Harman Kardon Logic 7 Surround Sound system for the sake of the discerning audiophile. But what if a game of golf was more your thing? Good news, for the GLE is able to pack up to three fully loaded golf bags in the trunk.
Gone are the days that diesel-powered cars used to be gutless, smoke choking rattlers that plagued cars. These days though, ”the-fuel-of-satan” is the way forward and unsurprisingly, Merc stuck the GLE 250d with a 2.1-litre inline four that cranks out a respectable 204 hp. The surprising bit is that it makes a shade over 500Nm of torque which is thanks to the magic of modern turbocharging.
Both the GLE 400 and the GLE 400 Coupe share the same mill which is a glorious twin turbo V6 that churns out 333 hp at 5,250rpm with 480 Nm of torque to boot. That figure means that the GLE will do the century sprint in 6.1 seconds while the coupe is quicker by 0.3 seconds. The reason for the time difference on these seemingly identical cars lies in the transmission. The GLE still uses the 7G-Tronic box while the Coupe is mated to a nine-speeder, although both cars max out at 247 km/h.
The range topping GLE 450 AMG Coupe on the other hand, uses the same lump as its V6-powered siblings but in this state of tune, Merc’s engineers has managed to squeeze out an additional 34 horses which brings it to a grand total of 367 hp. Torque figures have also risen to 520Nm which is steadily available from as low as 1,800 rpm. It’ll do the sprint in just 5.7 seconds and if you keep your right foot mashed to the carpets, the speedo will tick just shy of 250km/h.
All models come with the 4Matic moniker and what that means essentially is that these Mercs are paired up to a specifically tuned all-wheel-drive system that’s been tailored to each model. For example the range topper is more inclined toward a rear bias for a more engaging drive feel. Alternatively, drivers can always switch between four drive modes via the rotary controller on the centre console.
Autonomy is something that the Three-Pointed Star has had its eye on for a while now. Tesla may have started the trend but Mercedes seems to be on a quest to perfect it. While that remains a discussion for another day, the GLE and the GLE Coupe comes with your usual barrage of safety acronyms such as ABS, ESP, BAS, EBD and TCS – just to name a few.
Collision Prevention Assist Plus is one of the new assistance systems on offer. The Driving Assistance package Plus includes DISTRONIC PLUS with Steering Assist and Stop & Go Pilot as well as PRE-SAFE Brake with pedestrian protection which will pre-charge the brake servo in anticipation of an emergency braking manoeuvre.
BAS PLUS with Cross-Traffic Assist, Active Blind Spot Assist, Active Lane Keeping Assist and PRE-SAFE PLUS are available in the GLE 400. The Parking package with 360° camera and Active Parking Assist with PARKTRONIC guarantees problem-free manoeuvring in and out of tight parking spaces.
MBM is offering its customers an easier option to owning one of these premium SUV’s by means of the Agility Financing scheme. In simple English basically, you can expect lower monthly instalments and a number of flexible end-of-agreement options whereby customers have full control over the decision to either extend their agreement by refinancing its guareenteed future value, to pay off the remainder and take full ownership of the car or simply return the car. Sounds interesting, doesn’t it?
Fret not, the GLE and GLE Coupe is up for viewing at your nearest authorised Mercedes-Benz dealerships today and if you’re in Kuala Lumpur, be sure to drop by the Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre (KLPAC) in Sentul for a fun-filled weekend with the brand’s complete range of Premium SUVs!
Mercedes-Benz GLE 400 4MATIC
Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe