It is mind boggling how well Mercedes Benz engineers have understood the art of building superb 4 wheel drive cars, and indeed have established a long tradition in building them. Centre piece, or backbone of this vast 4WD engineering experience has been the eternal and still “modern” Unimog, launched in 1948, and this 4WD “Workhorse” is still imported and sold today in our country(!).
Bringing the 4WD experience into the passenger car segment was in 1979 when the iconic “G” car was launched in France. “G” stands for “Geländewagen”, and this car is still being built, for 70 % completely by hand, at the Steyr-Daimler-Puch factory in Graz, Austria.
Needless to say that we tested also this car on the off road track, this time in its posh and powerful V8 version. But that we reserve for part 3 of our report. Just read on…
Top of the range delight: the GLE Coupé 450 AMG 4Matic
Now the time had come to try out something special on the open road, and we laid our hands on a metallic red, fiery GLE 450 AMG Coupé. What a unique sporting experience it proved to be.
We had chosen the “Sport+” driving mode, and we were indeed doubly rewarded for our choice. The 270 kW V6 engine howled beautifully when revving up, the gears were held into (very) high revs when one put its right foot down.
Push the magnificent brakes and the 9 speed G-TRONIC PLUS box will change down right away to keep these revs up. That is just where the acoustic delights set in.
The gearbox communicates of course with engine management, and will at any gearchange change ignition timing and throttle opening(s), which will cause a magnificent “boom” in the exhaust, every time a gear change occurs.
No need to listen any more to thoroughbred GT and racing cars on the race track, you have all this acoustic charm and drama right here, behind the wheel of your SUV.
Truly amazing, ad so delightful. There is nothing more beautiful to the car loving human ear than the sound of a large six revving high under power. Your servant, a content owner of a classic 3,4 Jaguar Mk II saloon, knows all about this.
Remarkable how the oldest manufacturer in the world leaves no stone unturned to please and cater for those special enthusiasts who also like to experience thoroughbred sportiness when driving a 4WD SUV.
Of course the car handles on the open road like it should, and its road holding, responsiveness and agility are of the very highest order.
The GLE 250d tested off road…
We were of course also anxious to experience the off road qualities of the GLE. Our driver this time was himself an experienced amateur photographer, so we were able to choose with him the nicest, most photogenic spots on the track, ideal for taking those dramatic pictures.
As could be expected, the GLE behaved masterfully, tackling everything coming its way with uncanny ease.
The electronic driving aids come into play here, and prevent even the totally inexperienced 4WD driver from missing a beat. This SUV gets you everywhere, anytime, without drama.
To be continued!
Hans Knol ten Bensel
This is part 2 of our report on the magnificent off road driving experience of the Mercedes SUV range...