2019 Mercedes Benz GLE 450

From the moment we got in and adjusted the driver’s seat in the 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLE450, we knew this new SUV from Mercedes is something special. After driving it around for an entire day we realised that this is the craziest, most tech-forward car we’ve driven in a long time. It’s full of surprises, the GLE 450. Here are a couple of examples - You’re on cruise control doing 100 kph in a 100 kph zone when the limit drops to 80 kph, the GLE just slows down automatically to adjust to the right speed limit. Another example - You get tired of looking at the heads-up display but you’re not sure which menu disables it, so you just say, “Hey Mercedes, turn off the heads-up display.” It silently disappears. See where we are going with this? Its refinement & tech overload!

But let’s start with the looks because the exterior styling for the GLE is quite something. The previous model was too smooth to some eyes, and even Mercedes themselves admitted that it was an attempt to make its full-size SUV look more ‘friendly’ rather than brutal. The new model, however, is far from all that, with its individual wheel arches drawn out enough to give the car a subtly muscular look with a purposeful stance which strikes a much better balance, yet still very elegant. The new GLE is also larger all round compared to its predecessor and with a seven-seat option, it bridges the gap between the old model and the larger GLS. It’s certainly a more organic look thanks to the sleek sheet metal inspired by the C-Class and AMG GT.

Hop inside and things get even better. The infotainment system comes with newly enlarged screens and is set in the most luxurious-feeling interior setup of any luxury car in this class on the market. Where other manufacturers aim for a more engineered and minimal interior, the Mercedes feels more polished, elegant and beautiful. We love the fact that Mercedes still retains some trapping of old-world charms such as simple wood tones around the interior, a few buttons and knobs. Another feature we like is the system called MBUX Interior Assistant which enables the system to recognize hand and arm motions to help control audio and comfort settings.

The all-new 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged i6 motor introduced in the face-lifted S-Class last year benefits from a partial 48-volt electrical system with starter/generator. This engine makes 367 hp from 5,500-6,100 rpm and 369 lb-ft of torque from 1,600-4,500 rpm. The EQ Boost from the starter/generator provides an extra 22hp and 184.5 lb-ft of torque when you step on the throttle at low revs, with the first stage electrically driven turbocharger spinning up to boost low-end torque. By this time the big exhaust gas driven turbo is up to speed and boosting hard to provide the mid and top end power. The i6 motor is strong and smooth and perfectly suits the loping gait of the GLE 450 4Matic when equipped with the Airmatic or E-Active suspension options. The six-cylinder motor closes the sophistication loop, so the fact that its 5.7 sec 0-100 kph sprint and electronically limited 250 kph top speed is good for a full-sized SUV will be of little relevance to many prestige SUV buyers whose main priorities are image, sophistication and quality.

In an age where good cars are not exactly in short supply a vehicle capable of raising the bar to such a great extent is a rare find indeed. With its absolute onslaught of driver assistance and infotainment tech, not to mention great driving dynamics and top-tier luxury, the new GLE 450 feels worth every single penny.

Categories: Cars TEST DRIVE

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