Mercedes-Benz replaced the ML Class with the new GLE In Europe and has now brought the car to India. The car is being targeted as the E-Class of SUVs with premium luxurious interiors. Available in two diesel engine variants the GLE will try very hard to take on the Volvo XC90, soon-to-be launched Audi Q7 and the BMW X5.
Introduced in Indian market under a new nameplate, GLE SUV is essentially a facelift version of the M-Class, launched in India in diesel variants initially. A single petrol variant, was however introduced later, in wake of rising demand for petrol driven models. The GLE SUV range is available in three variants- 250 d 4MATIC, 350 d 4MATIC and 400 4MATIC, and there is a coupe version on offer as well-GLE 450 AMG Coupe. Under the hood, GLE gets a choice between two diesel and one petrol engine. The diesel engines are paired to a 9G-Tronic gearbox and the single petrol unit gets 7G-Tronic Plus transmission system. The entire range feature Mercedes’ 4MATIC all-wheel drive system that transmits power to all four wheels.
EXTERIORS AND STYLE ;
The GLE too comes with dual projectors Intelligent lighting system. For the best possible visibility on country roads and motorways, when cornering and on bends, the low beam mode of the LED Intelligent Light System automatically adapts to the weather, lighting and driving conditions. The LED Intelligent Light System thus makes a key contribution to safe driving. The Grill is massive very intimidating, comes with dual parallel chrome strips. The bumper too is split in for four grills. The base of the bumper is made up of a large chrome diffuser. The bonnet is bulky too with strong muscular lines to make Arnold feel weak.
The massive wheel arches protrude out to support the large 17 inch tyres. The alloys are simple 5 twin spoke alloys. This could have been better. The side is filled with bld character lines. First being a shoulder line that flows from the headlamp through just below the window all the way to the back. The second character line flow from the front fender across the doors to the rear fender. And the last one starts from the wheel arch through the lower part of the doors all the way to the rear wheel arch.
You also get a brushed aluminium footboard. The mirrors have the parallel line led strip for indicators. The rear windscreen is huge and visibility is top notch for such a big vehicle. The tail lamp is made of sharp looking LED lights. The upper part of the bumper comes with a good thick chrome strip and the base with a brushed aluminium diffuser with exhaust on each side.
INTERIORS AND COMFORT ;
Although billed as an all-new model when it was introduced last year, the 2017 Mercedes GLE-Class still shares its underlying bones with the now-defunct M-Class model. There’s more than a passing resemblance inside and out, though Mercedes updated the cabin with a large, center-mounted display screen and the latest knob-based COMAND system with a redundant touch-sensitive pad for clicking and swiping.
The infotainment system can be intimidating at first because of its myriad features and customization possibilities, but in practice it works fairly well. The availability of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration is a nice addition, too.
Some might find the GLE 350’s standard premium vinyl upholstery somewhat out of place on such a premium vehicle, despite breathing and wearing better than leather. Otherwise, though, materials quality and workmanship are excellent. In models fitted with any of the available grades of genuine leather, particularly the optional Designo diamond-quilted leather upholstery, and genuine burled wood trim, the interior’s plushness is significantly elevated. Available multicontour front seats are highly adjustable and add several massage programs to the supremely comfortable thrones.
Adults will find comfort and space no matter where they sit, as the tallish ride height means the transmission tunnel barely eats into the cabin. The two sections of the 60/40-split rear seatbacks fold easily to create a roomy cargo hold with a flat load floor. Cargo capacity stays the same, with 38.2 cubic feet behind the rear seats and 80.3 cubes with the seatbacks folded flat. These are average numbers for the segment.
ENGINE AND PERFORMANCE ;
All of the GLE’s engines are up to the task of shifting its hefty bulk – even the entry-level four-cylinder diesel, badged 250 d, has enough shove from low down to offer confident overtaking on faster roads.The six-cylinder diesel 350 d is even more flexible, delivering the sort of slick, effortless mid-range urgency that most will expect of a top-end SUV. The hybrid 500 e is certainly fast, but the interaction between the electric and petrol engines can sometimes make it tricky to predict when the main surge is going to kick in. It’s hugely potent in middling-to-fast stuff, but it feels hesitant and a little unpredictable in harder use. The bi-turbo 3.0-litre V6 450 AMG is positioned as a sort of junior AMG sports model, but we haven’t driven it yet.
The full-on 63 S AMG is on an entirely different level for performance to all of the other models. In fact, it will beat some bonafide sports cars from standstill to 62mph, which is saying something given its weight. The gearbox does a fair job in this monster V8 SUV, but it can be a bit hesitant to respond, where the newer nine-speed gearbox fitted to the lower-powered models is a bit slicker and quicker to deliver the gear you want, when you want.In other Mercedes models the 250 diesel is pretty unrefined, but it’s reasonably quiet in the GLE, only becoming raucous when you rev it hard. The V6 diesel is also smooth at the controls and quiet on the move. The Hybrid is virtually silent but for a hum of distant tyre noise when in electric mode, although there’s a noticeable shiver and thrum as the petrol engine kicks in. The 63 S AMG’s engine is smooth, and delightfully raucous at high revs – exactly how its buyers will want it. Road noise is well suppressed, but wind noise can be heard in the cabin above 50mph.
RIDE AND HANDLING ;
The GLE is built to deliver a pillow-soft, polished ride, and it does it pretty well, using a suspension system that can adjust each shock absorber as needed. Available upgrades include the Active Curve System – which minimizes body roll – and Dynamic Select for preset driving modes (Comfort, Sport, Slippery, and Off-Road).With its soft ride, the GLE works better as a highway cruiser than a sporty SUV. Handling is not overly dynamic, and some critics say the GLE is secure around corners, even if it can’t keep up with spirited driving. Like many comfort-tuned vehicles, the steering feels a little too light, although it’s responsive and provides an appropriate level of feedback. If you prefer something more athletic, rival luxury midsize SUVs like the BMW X5 or the Tesla Model X prioritize sportiness over comfort.In the GLE350, rear-wheel drive comes standard and all-wheel drive is optional. Every AMG GLE model comes standard with all-wheel drive. The all-wheel-drive 4MATIC system is capable, though it can’t handle serious off-roading like the Land Rover Range Rover Sport, which is praised for its prowess on trails.
The factor that impressed us more than anything else was the vehicle’s safety arrangements. There were conventional features such as airbags, 3-point seatbelts, childproof doors and seatbelt warning signals. Aside from these, this vehicle boasts many out of the box unconventional features that would surprise many as well. This includes the acceleration skid control program, the brake assist that comes along with brake servo assistance, a crosswind assistance and a seat occupancy recognition for the front passenger.
If you are amongst those well heeled folks who aren’t fond of keeping multiple cars and instead want that ideal car for your garage, the Mercedes GLE could be the one. The multifaceted SUV gives you comfort equivalent to the E-Class and you won’t mind being chauffeur driven in that cozy rear bench. It’s not as huge as the GL and hence the manageable dimensions help in hassle-free driving in severe traffic conditions like Delhi or Mumbai. It can do off-roading to a good extent as well as cruise all day long on the highways for your weekend getaways, having a huge boot as a boon. The new styling gives some muscle to the car with a mature appearance while the longer list of features makes the GLE quite attractive.