ML NO MORE
FROM NOW ON IT’S KNOWN AS THE BENZ GLE
WHAT was once the Mercedes-Benz ML SUV is now called the GLE and features revised frontend styling, a seriously upgraded interior with more kit, new steering wheel and extensive driver assist technology as standard.
Diesel versions also score a new nine-speed auto transmission as standard while other tweaks and updates are obvious elsewhere.
Our drive car was the base model $86,900 GLE250d running a 2.1-litre turbo diesel four cylinder that’s been available across the Benz range for nearly a decade.
It’s an excellent engine producing 150kW/500Nm along with astonishing 6.0-litres/100km fuel economy – in a 2175kg SUV no less.
THE base car gets a swag of highend driver assist technology including collision prevention assist, radar cruise control with braking, steering assist, stop and go pilot for driving in heavy traffic, pre-safe brakes and pre-safe crash preparation, crosswind assist, active blind spot assist, lane keeping and adaptive high beam.
This level of safety equipment is highly desirable in any car.
Other makes will no doubt follow some time in the future (hopefully).
STANDARD luxury kit is generous too and includes decent satnav and a premium audio system, leather, keyless go and climate control air.
Our drive car had the easy entry tailgate and there’s a large touchpad controller inside on the eightinch screen.
It’s a five seater with plenty of room for all passengers and luggage space down the back is OK.
Benz offers an electrically operated retractable towing system that seems like a good idea on a vehicle like this.
THE engine performs strongly across the entire operating range, capably accessed by the new nine speed auto.
It flicks between ratios quickly and is never caught out in the wrong cog.
Drive is to all four wheels with a 50:50 torque split front to rear.
The GLE can go mildly off road and has a drive select system to facilitate that.
An optional off-road engineering package is available if you must take your glamorous GLE further into the scrub.
We took the GLE for an almost 2000km road trip over Christmas on only two tanks of fuel.
It’s an excellent vehicle to drive as you can dial up the way it feels, spanning from soft and comfortable to sharp and sporty.
We left it in comfortable most of the time as the roads we were travelling were pretty potholed.
We achieved the stated fuel economy of 6 litres/100km a number of times in mixed driving.
This is one particularly attractive feature of the GLE250d.
The seats are large and comfortable and all controls are logical and easy to get your head around.
We found some of the driver assist features a tad over exuberant and would prefer them toned down.
But when you boil it all down, these cars are made to cover off all types of drivers – good and bad.
THE GLE250d makes an excellent family wagon with a high level of comfort and safety along with strong performance and amazing fuel economy.
Looks pretty good too.
GLE ... diesel dates back a decade.