There’s a new extravagant SUV in town, and the 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLE is counting its magic carpet like ride, extra flexible cabin, and improved technology to beat its rivals. We recently hosted the GLE 400d for a weeklong review cycle to test out its capabilities and find out what makes it tick.
For Mzansi, there’ll be three engine options at first. The 2020 GLE 300 d 4MATIC, GLE 400d 4MATIC and GLE 450 4MATIC. For our review, we had the GLE 400 d 4MATIC which boasts a six-cylinder diesel engine comes with 243 kW and 700 Nm of torque. 0-100km/h arrives in 5.8 seconds.
In the GLE 400 d 4MATIC, all-wheel drive uses a fixed transfer case splitting power half and half, front to rear. While braking is used to prevent individual wheel spinning. There’s also the electronically controlled multi-disc clutch, which can shift anything from 0- to 100-percent of the torque to the front or rear axles.
As for the body, more than 3-inches length added to the wheelbase makes for a more poised-looking SUV and greater cabin space too. Short overhangs and flush-fitted wheels double-down on that, while an upright grille sits above chrome-plating on the underguard. The bonnet has twin power domes.
An Ultra Wide Beam LED Intelligent Light System skirts, Mercedes claims, just as close to the maximum the law permits as the automaker can currently go. There are 19- to 22-inch wheels, and optional illuminated running boards. Chrome cuts around the glass area.
At the back, the reflectors are lower, emphasizing the rear lamps. Mercedes has rounded the rear off, with a chrome-plated under guard. Inside, there are plenty hints of sedan and SUV in the cabin styling. The dashboard flows into the door panels, with a raised centre console and grab handles. Metal trim around the controls and a new sport steering wheel double-down on the premium feel.
Second row legroom is up 2.7-inches, to 41.1-inches, while headroom has increased by 1.3-inches. Optionally, the second row can have six-way power adjustment; a switch in the luggage compartment can fold the seat backs down altogether. Another switch can lower AIRMATIC air suspension equipped versions down around 1.6-inches for easier loading. The optional third row adds two more seats, which also fold. Electronically, of course.
The luggage capacity is up to 825 litres behind the rear seats, and up to 2055 litres when the second seat row is folded down. A 72 mm increase in through-loading width allows bulky items to be stowed more easily.
Technology, meanwhile, borrows liberally from Mercedes’ recent sedans and luxury coupes. There’s the new MBUX infotainment system, with natural language voice recognition and twin 12.3-inch screens as standard. An optional MBUX Interior Assistant uses a camera in the overhead console to track hand and arm movements of the driver and front passenger. For example, if the driver reaches out to adjust the seat massage, the 2020 GLE will understand which seat to change.
An augmented reality option for the navigation overlays directional arrows and house numbers atop a live view of the route ahead, shown on the dashboard display. A 720 x 240 head-up display is optional, and can show both on-road and off-road data.
Navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, blind-spot assistance, ATTENTION ASSIST, keyless start, Car-to-X communication, five USB ports, and LED headlamps and taillamps were installed on our review model. Further options will include 4-zone climate control, wireless phone charging, Driver Assistance with Active Traffic Jam Assist, the Energizing Comfort package, AMG Line upgrades, and a Burmester 3D Surround Sound audio system, among other extras.
If you missed my on-air review of the GLE 400d 4MATIC you can tune in by clicking play below
The new Mercedes-Benz GLE 400 d 4MATIC retails from R 1 351 200.
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