Mercedes Benz GLE 250 d: Touring Perfection
Every trip begins with its planning and since I have never had the opportunity to drive the new Mercedes Benz GLE, formerly the ML I really looked forward to this 4000 km trip to Cape Town and back. Yes, I know, it is actually only around 3000 km’s, but not the way Annelize and I travel and that is why I opted for the smallest engine in the range being the 250 d.
Going to Cape Town we decided to go via Kimberley and left in the wee hours of the morning at 04:00. What luxury, what great lights and then we hit a thunder storm that would even slow down seasoned rally drivers to within the speed limits. The GLE too showed signs of aquaplaning but this got sorted quickly by the off road settings and then the capabilities got further tested by oncoming traffic on a narrow stretch of the road that veered onto my side of the road forcing me to go onto the side of the road which was very muddy. We braced ourselves for some serious business only to find the GLE’s dynamic motion across this terrain was excellent and never made us feel that we are on the edge of disaster.
Driving the rest of the road was very relaxing and the new Mercedes-Benz GLE’s mastery extends to its interior, where it begins with 12 multifunction buttons on the sports-style 3-spoke steering wheel with perforated grip inserts. Controlling any aspect of the GLE and adjusting the SUV’s 20.3cm COMAND online display is easy and never takes focus off the road. Going through the Karoo we used the automatic climate control which allows you to individually design different temperature zones on either side of the vehicle.
Seat position and comfort is second to none and being enveloped in soft nappa leather where the new front seats remember the shape of your body, reconfiguring themselves ergonomically to fit you at the touch of a button makes for really effortless driving and without getting out at the end of the trip feeling stiff and tired. The alarm did go off twice to warn me that I need to stop for coffee and to stretch my legs and one of these stops was in Victoria West where you find the loveliest lamb, game, chicken and pepper steak pies.
One is enough because it is packed with meat like the GLE is packed with technology. Meticulous attention to detail in the SUV’s interior not only begins with glistening hand-polished wood, silver chrome rims around the media display, new colour concepts for your appointments and a superb selection of new individualisation packages, from AMG carbon fibre to black piano lacquer trim but is taken through the whole vehicle.
Try it with harmonious power - the new GLE’s diesel engine delivered harmonious power and sets the benchmark across the segment, reducing fuel consumption by up to 7 % compared with its previous incarnations and offering outstanding carbon emission figures as low as 140g/km.
Although the GLE 250 d was noisier then I thought at idle, it was quiet and had more than enough power for any eventuality. My best fuel consumption was 7.5L per 100km’s but the average was nearer to 7.8L per 100km’s for the whole trip. I do believe that the GLE 350 d will give even better figures and performance although it is fairly more expensive.
A sportier design for the Mercedes-Benz GLE in 2016 sees LED daytime lamps gleaming from within the halogen headlamps, a wider, more formidable front bonnet with power domes, a choice between Himalayas grey light - alloy wheels in 19 or 20 inch and a sleek new trim along the tailpipe and is one of the really enjoyable SUV’s that is very capable for whatever the road conditions. It is an excellent tourer and every day vehicle that you know you will enjoy whenever you get behind the steering or in the passenger’s seat.
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