Mercedes Benz; GLE 400 4MATIC/ Kitzbühel 2015; designo diamantw

The Mercedes-Benz GLE has repositioned itself, but it has done more than shuffled its feet and recrossed its legs. The model range continues to combine luxury appointments, state-of-the-art technology, versatility with the ruggedness of an SUV.

To add to this the diesel models have taken up the 9G-Tronic automatic transmission and the innovative Dynamic Select handling system, as well as powerful, yet fuel efficient engines.

On parade for the press around Melbourne and in the Yarra Valley were the entry-level GLE 250d, GLE 350d, with four-cylinder, V6 turbo-diesel V8 respectively.

We also tried a Benz GLE 500 with direct injection twin-turbo petrol V8, and the AMG GLE 63 S blessed with the AMG 5.5-litre twin turbo V8.

As you might expect, the entry-level 250d model offers advantages of fuel economy, while the range-topping AMG 63 S is an out-and-out purveyor of performance.

The hot AMG 63 S hits the metric ton in 4.2 seconds from a standing start.

Mercedes Benz; GLE 400 4MATIC/ Kitzbühel 2015; designo diamantw

Not that the four-cylinder is short on goodies, with an intelligent light system incorporating LED headlights and the Driver Assistance Package Plus, 19-inch wheels, 4Matic permanent all-wheel drive, Keyless Go, power tailgate, plus Comand sat nav with touchpad. Price is $86,900, plus on-road costs.

Step up to the V6 turbo-diesel 350d with 4Matic and the advantages pile up, with 190 kW and a massive 620 Nm of torque on tap. There’s more kit too with a 360-degree camera, leather upholstery, heated front seats and 20-inch wheels. The 400d also adds power sunroof and 14-speaker Harman Kardon Logic 7 surround sound system.

Mercedes GLE 500 4Matic, with its direct injection twin-turbo V8, ventures into high performance territory with a power boost to 320 kW and torque peak at 700 Nm starting the ball rolling. To cope with this the chassis has been completely reworked for improved ride and handling, and throttle response and shift times enhanced accordingly. An AMG driver’s package is also thrown in.

Standard equipment is lifted, with Active Curve System, Airmatic package, including air suspension and Adaptive Damping System with level control and automatic lowering at higher speeds, 21-inch wheels and luxury heated and ventilated front seats.


Topping off the model range, the new Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S 4Matic also includes the AMG Driver’s Package, panoramic sunroof, AMG Performance Package, and exclusive Nappa leather upholstery on top of the features already available in the superseded model.

Safety is paramount across the range, with nine airbags, Distronic Plus with Steering Assist, Stop & Go Pilot, Pre-Safe braking and Pre-Safe Plus, Crosswind Assist, Active Blind Spot Assist, Active Lane Keeping Assist, Active Intelligent Light System with Adaptive High Beam Assist Plus.

Mercedes-Benz is also offering, for the first time in the segment, a power extendable and retractable trailer coupling with Electronic Stability Program trailer control.

Further driver aids include Dynamic Select, which sets up the vehicle to take on a range of conditions under foot. Using the Dynamic Select control knob on the centre console programs – individual, comfort, slippery and sport – are geared to handle mild off-road action, while 4Matic models fitted with the optional Off-Road Engineering Package, can take on rougher stuff in the Off-road+ setting. Airmatic air suspension can be of further help in this situation, raising ride heights by up to 285 mm.

The 4Matic permanent all-wheel drive, with 50/50 torque split between front and rear axles ensures safe and stable handling, while an AMG version splits the torque 40/60 for greater vehicle agility.

Even better stability is provided by the Airmatic ADS adaptive damping operating through the Dynamic Select mode, and Active Curve System, the latter minimising body roll for safer handling of fast bends or in sudden changes of direction.

The AMG modified hero model, the GLE 63 S conducts itself to the accompaniment of a uniquely varied ‘song’, witness my first drive of the vehicle on launch. With foot flat to the floor the engine roared, the sound echoing across the Yarra Valley like the horn of a horde of advancing invading warriors, urging them on.

It’s as if the Mercedes sound engineers responsible – more Abbey Road than high road – cut their teeth on the pyrotechnics of the 1812 Overture, or Mahler, for here was our own Ride of the Valkyries.

On lift-off the motor blipped and crackled, as if cheekily laughing at the potential joy it gave the enthusiastic driver and passenger. It goes a long way to justifying the almost $200,000 outlay for the AMG masterpiece.


Mercedes-Benz GLE 250d: $86,900
Mercedes-Benz GLE 350d: $104,900
Mercedes-Benz GLE 400: $109,900
Mercedes-Benz GLE 500: $127,900
Mercedes-Benz GLE 63 S AMG: $189,900
Note: These prices do not include dealer or government charges. Contact your local Mercedes-Benz dealer for drive-away prices.

About Derek Ogden

On graduating with an honours degree in applied science in London, Derek Ogden worked for the BBC in local radio and several British newspapers as a production journalist and writer. Derek moved to Australia in 1975 and worked as a sub-editor with The Courier Mail and Sunday Mail in Brisbane, moving to the Gold Coast Bulletin in 1980 where he continued as a production journalist. He was the paper's motoring editor for more than 20 years, taking the weekly section from a few pages at the back of the book to a full-colour liftout of up to 36 pages. He left the publication in 2009.
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