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The Mercedes-Benz GLE450 keeps the luxury SUV segment in check with its imposing good looks, a well-appointed cabin and a high level of comfort and refinement.

24 Jul 2020


SUVs are taking up every inch of road, both in size and numbers. And manufacturers are exploring ways to make their already large SUV footprint count.

Hence, the big are getting bigger. The current generation BMW X3, for example, is bigger than the first generation X5 from 1999. And when you talk about the X5 today, it isn't even the biggest SUV offering from BMW - that goes to the X7.  

Size matters, it seems. But when it comes to luxury, there is one brand that does it best - Mercedes-Benz. And here is its latest take on the segment. The big and bold GLE.

Big fella

You'll attract lots of oohs and aahs with the GLE, as it scores well on first impressions
Between the usual luxury SUV suspects like the Audi Q7 and the BMW X5, there's nothing that stands out more than the GLE's ability to make a strong impression.

It's visually big and imposing, with its grille and three-pointed badge that take precedence up front.

You'll easily mistake the GLE to be the biggest SUV that Mercedes-Benz makes, but that isn't true. That honour goes to the GLS.

This is quite a feat considering it shares similar proportions when compared to the other two big seven-seater Germans. The GLE is taller, but the X5 is wider, and the Q7, longer. The GLE is only taller, but yet, it feels like the bigger car, visually.

If you're getting a luxury SUV for shocking first impressions, the GLE is undoubtedly it.

An executive lounge

The GLE feels special inside, with its luxurious interior fittings and the two 12.3-inch displays exuding lots of visual appeal
Mercedes clearly is on a mission to impress with its interiors in the last few years. And the GLE further proves this point.

Here, the SUV has enough appointments to make it feel like a flagship product, despite it being a step below the GLS.

Cabin materials feel and look expensive, offering a level of luxury and solidity that is expected from the brand.

Taking all the attention here are the two dazzling 12.3-inch displays. Clear and legible, they allow for various driving information to be displayed all at once, along with infotainment functions.

While offering some haptic feedback, the touchpads to control infotainment features require rather precise swipes
Like the rest of the Merc range, three touch controls on the centre console and steering wheel allow you to navigate through menus. But it takes a level of precision to get it right. With the occasional inaccurate swipe with the touchpads, you'll find yourself reaching out for the screen to navigate through its intricate user interface.

In this regard, the BMW X5's iDrive control wheel is more intuitive for on-the-fly adjustments.

A slight hassle, but no deal-breaker, because once you've got your preferences right, the entire luxurious and visual treat of the interior make it all worthwhile.

Luxury for seven

Adults in the third row will do fine for short trips, but anything more is best left for young children
A big part about the GLE is that it is, for the first time, a seven-seater SUV. Second row occupants have nothing to complain about. Plush and comfortable, the seats here can be electronically adjusted to allow for more recline or legroom.

This is useful if you're planning to accommodate adults in the third row. Slide the second row forward and you'll offer them some legroom. It still proves to be a squeeze, and it is best left for young ones.

If you don't carry two extra passengers often, the GLE is reasonably practical. Folding the third row flat offers you a sizeable 630 litres of boot space. Slide the second row forward and you'll get a whopping 825 litres, with room to still carry five in comfort.

The luxury road yacht

The GLE glides quietly and effortlessly, proving that Mercedes certainly knows how to make a comfortable cruiser out of anything
If its cossetting and impressive cabin isn't enough of an indication, the GLE is a comfortable and gentle cruiser on the road.

You feel completely isolated from any road and wind noise, with noise, vibration and harshness levels kept at bay.

In fact, the only vibrations you feel are the bass drops from the impressive 13-speaker Burmester sound system. My R&B playlist definitely comes alive here.

Ride quality is equally excellent, as the GLE effortlessly swallows humps and road undulations with relative ease. Mind you, our test car doesn't come with AIRMATIC air suspension that comes standard in the GLE here, so we can imagine that brings comfort to another level.

The straight-six engine in the GLE is creamy smooth, and offers a good punch of torque when you need it
Because of how effortless the GLE glides across road surfaces, you occasionally forget its capable lump under the hood.

Sharing the same powerplant as the CLS450, the 3.0-litre turbocharged engine pushes out a healthy 362bhp and 500Nm of torque to all four wheels. 

With some mild-hybrid wizardry, step on it and a waft of torque comes in an instant, along with a creamy straight-six soundtrack.

Rarely can you catch the nine-speed automatic off-guard during sudden kick down moments, either. It is quick, but really, you'll find yourself rarely exploring the upper limits of the GLE's rev range with a ride this supple. But it is there if you need it.

The GLE doesn't hide its big footprint, and you'll find yourself exploring the boundaries of a parking lot often
But the GLE has a sizeable footprint, and it shows on the road.

Safety gizmos like Blind Spot and Lane Keep Assist keeps your drive in check, but get in a narrow multi-storey carpark and you'll find yourself peering over the wheel ever so often.

Here, the 360-degree camera works hard as it pops up, daring you to go for that extra inch of space.

Impressions matter

The GLE offers a lot of presence from any angle, giving it an edge over its competitors
Some might never see the need for an SUV, large or small. But for those who do, size can be a big deal, be it shocking clients or road hoggers with your imposing presence.

And the GLE is a step up, with more interior amenities and visual drama than its closest seven-seater competitors. But it does come at a price. At $371,888 (as of 21 July 2020), it is a good $19,000 more than the BMW X5, and for the Audi Q7, a whopping $64,088 more.

The others certainly have their merits. But if you're looking to make an impression amongst all SUVs, there is no fight. The GLE is really all you ever need.

Need a second look at the GLE to gauge its road presence, or want another view of the palatial interior? Watch our video review here as well!



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Car Information

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Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class Mild Hybrid GLE450 4MATIC (A)
Rate it

Price

: $371,888

Engine Type

:

6-cylinder in-line Turbocharged

Engine Cap

:

2999cc

Horsepower

:

270kW (362 bhp) / 6100 rpm

Torque

:

500 Nm / 4500 rpm

Transmission

:

9G-Tronic (A)

Acceleration (0-100 km/h)

:

5.7sec

Top Speed

:

250km/h

Fuel consumption

:

11 km/L

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