Johannesburg - The fourth-generation Mercedes-Benz GLE has wafted into South Africa to do battle with the recently launched gen-four BMW X5, and the new mid-sized SUV comes with a smoother design, advanced new active suspension system and the company’s new MBUX infotainment set-up, now upgraded to detect hand and arm movements.

The local line-up consists of three derivatives - a GLE 300d, priced at R1 210 500, GLE 400d, for R1 351 200, and a GLE 450, which is yours for R1 329 400.

The GLE 300d is powered by Merc’s new 2-litre, four-cylinder turbodiesel engine, but it’s almost as potent as the six-pot fitted to the previous 350d model, with 180kW and 500Nm being available.

But if you must have six-cylinders, consider the GLE 400d, powered by a 243kW, 700Nm version of the company’s 3-litre turbodiesel unit. 

There is only one petrol option for now, and it’s powered by the company’s new 3-litre straight-six turbopetrol unit, mated to a 48-volt mild hybrid system featuring an integrated starter/alternator. The motor pushes 270kW and 500Nm, while an extra 250Nm of electric boost is available in short spurts.

All engines will be mated to a nine-speed 9G-Tronic automatic transmission and 4Matic all-wheel-drive system. In the GLE 300d, torque is transmitted to the axles in a fixed ratio of 50:50 percent, while the six-cylinder models are fitted with more advanced fully-variable AWD system that can send up to 100 percent of the torque to either axle. 

Those selecting the Offroad package will also be able to select low-range for rough terrain crawling.

Conventional steel suspension with adaptive damping is fitted as standard, and for an extra R29 000, buyers can opt for the Airmatic air suspension system.

Advanced new cabin

Being bigger than before, the new GLE is somewhat roomier, with rear seat occupants now enjoying 69mm more legroom and 35mm more headroom, while buyers can also opt for a special second row seat that has six electric adjustment options. A third seating row is optional too.

Design-wise, the new GLE is a world apart from its predecessor, sporting a further-developed version of the company’s MBUX multimedia system. MBUX offers four distinct display styles and is built into a ‘floating’ widescreen design, with two 31cm units as standard. Also available is a new-generation head-up display.

Among the 40-or-so new functions, including various off-road displays and an extended range of apps, the multimedia system gains a new ‘Interior Assist’ predictive function that was designed to support operating intentions by recognising hand and arm movements and even noticing whether the driver or front passenger is making them.

Energizing Comfort Control is available too - it networks various comfort systems in the vehicle, and uses musical and lighting moods, as well as a number of massage modes, to create a wide range of ‘feel-good’ programmes. 

As you would expect, there is a long list of driver assistance gadgets on offer, including the new Active Tailback Assist feature, which can use live traffic data to warn drivers of a traffic stoppage on the highway before he or she can see it. Once in the jam, the vehicle can drive autonomously at up to 60km/h and then accelerate back up to the original chosen cruising speed after it has dissipated.

PRICES

GLE 300d 4Matic R1 210 500
GLE 400d 4Matic R1 351 200
GLE 450 4Matic R1 329 400

IOL Motoring