Mercedes’ town and country car
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Mercedes-Benz is celebrating two decades of its famous premium off-roader by offering a special model for Kiwis, the aptly named GLE Edition 20.
On sale now for a limited time, the GLE ‘Edition 20’ model SUV is on sale from $99,900 for the GLE 250d 4matic, or $119,000 for the GLE 350d 4matic.
The GLE 250d model has a 2.1-litre, four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine producing 150 kW and 500 Nm, while the 3-litre, six-cylinder turbo diesel engine in the GLE 350d model outputs 190 kW and 620 Nm. Both engines are paired to a 9G-tronic nine-speed automatic transmission and are all-wheel drives.
The GLE 350d shares the same engine and transmission as the top spec Mercedes-Benz X-Class V6 ute that goes on sale here in September.
In addition to standard GLE equipment, the Edition 20 adds the AMG Line interior package, the Night Package featuring black exterior accents, 21in AMG twin-spoke alloy wheels, Airmatic air suspension, sports seats, and a three-spoke AMG multi-function steering wheel finished in black nappa leather. The GLE 350d 4matic model also adds seats finished in nappa leather.
In 1998, Mercedes-Benz NZ introduced the M-Class (now known as the GLE) — one of the first into the emerging premium SUV category. But it was thanks to the now 40-year-old Mercedes G-Class off-roader that the M-Class was created.
Mercedes-Benz decided it needed a “best of both worlds” vehicle, combining all-wheel drive, high ground clearance, plenty of interior space luxury touches, and an excellent ride comfort.
The resulting M-Class became the bench mark for future Mercedes-Benz SUV models and more than 2.4 million have been built in the past 20 years at the Tuscaloosa plant in Alabama.
In 2015, Mercedes-Benz replaced the M-Class with the badge GLE, following the brand’s new naming strategy.
Driven had the GLE 350d 4matic Edition 20 (pictured) and it was a reminder of what a superb SUV package it is in this segment.
I took the GLE on a friends’ road trip to Te Awamutu using back roads following the Waikato River, rather than SH1. Turning off at Rangiriri, the 350d engine came to the fore when overtaking, especially when I turned on dynamic setting for the drive mode.
Though the 4Matic handling gave a stable drive when I took on the winding road from Huntly to Ngaruawahia, it was during our return trip on the back roads around Te Kowhai that we appreciated being in a large SUV.
A hailstorm reduced visibility, so I slowed to well below 100km/h and when we were battered by winds, the GLE felt secure.
Another upside was that it looked like a country vehicle. And looks do matter — you don’t want to be pegged as an Aucklander once you go south of the Bombays!