Driven: 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLE 450
The Mercedes-Benz GLE 450 is currently the most powerful model in the new line-up. The AMG versions are still on their way but the GLE 450 is here to keep the throne warm. We got to spend a week with the current flagship to see whether it was worthy of being at the top of the food chain or if we should just wait for the AMG.
The design of the Mercedes-Benz GLE has undergone the usual ‘new-model’ improvements. It’s lower, wider and longer than before. "The GLE exhibits iconic Mercedes-Benz design while remaining true to its character as an off-roader," says Selvin Govender, Marketing Director for Mercedes-Benz Cars South Africa. The GLE 450 features chrome details and LED headlights as standard while our AMG model took the sporty appeal up a level by adding a diamond radiator grille, larger air inlets and painted wheel arches to the mix. The 22-inch alloys give it a sporty look while emphasising the aggressive stance of the SUV. The new GLE also boasts a more aerodynamic design with the lowest drag co-efficient of its segment, improving factors like handling and fuel consumption.
The new Mercedes-Benz GLE is a lot longer than the last-generation GLE. The additional 80mm in length provides occupants with even more headroom and legroom than before. The new GLE is also practical in terms of luggage capacity, offering a generous 825-litre capacity that can go up all the way to 2055-litres when the seats are folded down. Up front the driver is treated to the latest iteration of Mercedes-Benz User Experience, or MBUX, with two 12.3-inch widescreen displays that act as the central infotainment display and instrument cluster. The MBUX interface can be controlled through touch, gesture and voice commands which are recognised and learned by the systems artificial intelligence. In addition to this, the system can also be controlled from the touch pad in the centre console as well as the touch pads on the fourth-generation Mercedes-Benz multifunction steering wheel. The 64-colour ambient lighting really makes the cabin feel alive at night, complementing the AMG sports seats, sports paddles and AMG floor mats.
The Mercedes-Benz GLE 450 features bucket-loads of tech and driving aids. The new multibeam LED headlights are made up of 84 adjustable LED’s that turn with the vehicle to improve visibility. The biggest improvements are found in the off-road tech, which features a differential lock, a low-range gearbox and a dedicated off-road theme that changes the MBUX displays to communicate off-roading information such as tilt-angles and a G-force meter to the driver.
The GLE 450 uses a turbocharged 6-cylinder petrol engine to produce 270kW of power and 500Nm of torque, which gains an additional 250Nm through the EQ boost feature. The 450 is also fitted with 4MATIC all-wheel drive and a 9G-Tronic automatic gearbox as standard. Compared to the rest of its competitors in the rapidly growing premium SUV segment, the GLE 450 offers superb levels of comfort. It does possess an element of dynamism, but it’s the type of car that you enjoy Comfort mode a lot more than any of the other modes. I expected the only petrol model in the range to be a bit of a guzzler, but after a few drives I realised that it was surprisingly economical. The EQ motor kicks in at low revs which really saves a lot of fuel. I averaged around 9.5-litres/100km which is really decent given that I did indulge my heavy right foot. The GLE 450 really wowed me with its great balance of performance and efficiency.
GLE 450 4MATIC – R 1 329 400