For the longest time success has always been associated with being chauffeured around in a luxury sedan. However it appears that times-are-a-changing and as the average age of CEOs is surely moving downwards, that status symbol seems to be changing pretty quickly. The best example of this is perhaps someone who comes from within, Mark Raine, Vice President of Sales & Marketing Passenger Cars at Mercedes-Benz Malaysia, who excitedly tells us at a special preview of the newly launched SUVs that he will soon be getting his hands on a Mercedes-Benz GLE and it is an SUV that perfectly suits his active lifestyle while at the same time serves his executive needs.
“The Mercedes-Benz GLE is a full-sized luxury SUV, which speaks of precision, power and prestige. Its bold and striking design presents customers with the exclusive privilege of owning an SUV of the highest quality of luxury and refinement. The GLE offers drivers an incomparable driving experience, impeccable road-handling abilities, great fuel efficiency and relentless power. It sets a new benchmark for the luxury SUV category, achieving unprecedented levels of performance, style, ride comfort, safety and functionality,” he says at the launch of the Mercedes-Benz premium SUVs.
It is in essence the E-Class presented in an SUV form, which caters more to the active lifestyles of dynamic individuals but at the same time not forsaking the luxury factor. “It easily fits three golf bags in the trunk,” says Raine, or perhaps a bicycle, which has of late become the sport of choice for the young CEO. But at the same time one wouldn’t appear out of place seated at the back, being driven to a meeting or appointment.
“It is for the more refined, the more affluent,” adds Raine.
The GLE is one of three luxury SUVs recently launched by Mercedes-Benz that aims to address the needs of active Malaysians. Apart from the GLE, Mercedes-Benz also launched the GLC and the GLE Coupé. There is a specific theme that accompanies each model. For the GLC, the theme is endurance while for the GLE Coupé it is adrenaline. The GLE, meanwhile, goes by the theme precision.
Precision because the GLE, which comes in two variants – the 250d and 400 - is aimed at the refined customer who wants the finer things in life be it food, art of wine but at the same time is likely spend quite a bit of time on outdoor pursuits. The diverse lifestyle choice is perhaps reflected in the Dynamic Select control system which offers up to six programmes.
Apart from the established settings – Individual, comfort, slippery and sport, the driver, in the 4Matic models, can choose the additional Offroad setting for mild terrain. In this setting, the off-road reduction gear and a 100% inter-axle differential lock come into play to generate high traction even in challenging terrain. This is further enhanced by the expanded functions of Airmatic air suspension (in the GLE 400 4MATIC) with raised ride heights for a ground clearance of up to 285 millimetres and a fording depth of 600 millimetres, protecting the against rough contact with ground.
The various programmes are visualised on the central media display and are especially impressive with off-road animations as parameters like slope angle, tilt angle and steering angle are displayed dynamically in real time.
Design-wise, the new GLE strikes a balance between tradition and modernity. The characteristic C-pillar and the rear side window, which have been an integral part of this model series is maintained. Nonetheless modern elements have been included. The radiator grille, bumpers, headlamps, wings and the bonnet with its two power domes follow the current sensuous and clear design idiom of Mercedes-Benz. New headlamps with the daytime driving lights forming the brand's hallmark eyebrows and the current lamp layout, LED Intelligent Light-System - blend harmoniously with the front end.
Also striking are the redesigned tailpipe embellishers integrated into the lower section of the bumper. The front and rear bumper are fitted with the characteristic three-dimensional chrome-look underride guard. New light-alloy wheels meanwhile boost the superior appearance of the new GLE.
“I believe all three vehicles are going to set new benchmarks in the premium SUV segment,” says Raine. “They will redefine the segment because the SUV market in Malaysia has had enormous growth last year. This growth has not been reflected in the premium market.”
The premium SUVs, he adds, offer the same luxury, comfort and exclusivity found in the C, E or S Class but with additional benefits. These include a higher seating position, the ability to get in and out of the vehicle with ease and also more room.
“Our SUV range going to suit the active lifestyle. That is a crucial factor,” he emphasises. “We do not believe our SUVs are traditional off-road, 4x4. It has got the capabilities but that’s not what our customers are looking for in this product.”