Test drive Mercedes GLENovember 27, 2018
Previously, this could be seen only on the tuning show: the new Mercedes GLE dances to music due to the hydropneumatic suspension. And it definitely gets into the rhythm and makes it very elegant. In the future, special firmware may appear on the market that will enable the inclusion of “dance” in civilian regimes. But the advanced suspension in the GLE was still created for the other: on an off-road, the car would simulate the buildup, pushing up the pressure in the hydraulic racks and briefly increasing the pressure of the wheels on the supporting surface.
After more than two decades, many have already forgotten that the emergence of the M-Class was accompanied by a barrage of criticism. Most European brand connoisseurs criticized ML for the poor quality of materials and poor assembly. But the car was created for the American market and at the American factory, and in the New World the quality requirements were noticeably lower. Americans, on the contrary, took the novel with enthusiasm and purchased more than 43 thousand cars in 1998. The M-Class even received the title of North American Truck of the Year just a year after the appearance.
It was possible to fix the main shortcomings by large-scale restyling in 2001, and with the advent of the second generation (2005–2011) most of the quality claims are a thing of the past. In 2015, Mercedes changed the index for models of the entire crossover family. From now on, all crossovers begin with the GL prefix, and the next letter means the class of the car. It is logical that the third-generation ML received the GLE index, which means that it belongs to the average E-class.
The fourth generation of the crossover was presented recently at the Paris Motor Show, and its production has already started on October 5 at a factory in the US city of Tuscaloosa, Alabama. In order to get acquainted with the machines in dynamics, I went to the city of San Antonio, Texas, where the global driving presentation of the new GLE took place.
The fourth generation of the crossover was based on the MHA (Modular High Architecture) platform with an increased share of super-high-strength steels, developed for large SUVs and being a modified version of the platform on which many brand sedans are built. At first glance, the new GLE is even smaller than its predecessor, but on paper only the height has decreased – by 24 mm (1772 mm). Otherwise, the new GLE only added: 105 mm (4924 mm) in length, 12 mm in width (1947 mm). The drag coefficient is a record low in the class – 0.29.
After the “drying” procedure, the new GLE dropped the fat mass, but retained the muscle mass. The overall approach to the design of the new crossover has become more intelligent. The coolness in the form of GLE diminished, which is logical. By the way, Axel Hayks, SUV director of the Mercedes-Benz product line, at dinner, without much embarrassment, called the new GLE a machine for Soccer Mom (housewives).
It is not surprising: firstly, in the United States, unlike in Russia, a man in the family often chooses a compact car because it uses it for commuting, and a roomy crossover is more suitable for a woman who has children. Secondly, the SUV and here bite off the market share of minivans, which, according to housewives, do not look cool enough. However, for the GLE there is an AMG package available that adds aggression, or an AMG version – it not only looks aggressive, but also drives much more excitingly.
In the guise of a new GLE with a characteristic profile of the rear pillar and the glazing of the rear hemisphere, the M-Class family features are unmistakably guessed. If you look at the stern exactly from behind, you get the feeling that the GLE has lost a lot of weight “above the belt”, but this effect only applies to the luggage compartment, which still added 135 liters (825 liters), and even more. By the way, thanks to the increased volume, an optional third row of seats is now available for GLE for the first time.
The wheelbase increased by 80 mm (up to 2995 mm), making it noticeably more comfortable on the second row: the distance between the rows of seats was increased by 69 mm, the headroom of the rear riders (+33 mm) increased, and the rear seats were electrically adjustable sofa side seats 100 mm, change the backrest tilt and adjust the height of the head restraints.
The base chassis has springs (ground clearance up to 205 mm), the second level is Airmatic air suspension (ground clearance up to 260 mm), but the main feature of this GLE was the new E-Active Body Control hydropneumatic suspension, which consists of accumulators mounted on each rack and powerful servo drives that constantly regulate the degree of compression and rebound. The suspension works from a 48-volt power supply network and is able to control each wheel separately, and most importantly, to do it fairly quickly.
In addition to cute pranks like a dance at the presentation, E-Active Body Control allows you to actively fight rolls, making it possible to completely abandon anti-roll bars. This is the responsibility of the Curve Control system, which counteracts the rolls by tilting the body, not outward, but inside the turn, as the motorcyclist does. On bad roads or outside of them, the system scans the surface at a distance of 15 m (Road Surface Scan) and aligns the position of the body, compensating for any irregularities in advance.
In the cabin of the new GLE – a mixture of high-tech and classic style. Mercedes manages to combine cutting-edge solutions with traditional materials such as high-quality leather or natural wood. Analog devices, alas, are finally a thing of the past: instead of them, the long monitor of an oversized (12.3-inch) media system already familiar in A-Class, which includes both the dashboard and the MBUX touchscreen display. Suffice to say “Hey, Mercedes,” for the system to go on standby for the team.
By the way, you can control the multimedia system in three ways: on the steering wheel, with the help of touches and with a small touchpad on the center console. High-speed performance at a high level, although still there were some small lags. As for convenience, despite the presence of hot keys around the touchpad, control from the touch screen seems more convenient. True, reach out to him far enough.
The instrument cluster has four design options; in addition, you can order a projection display, which has become larger and more contrast, and in addition has learned how to display a lot of useful information on glass. Also among the options appeared function Energizing Coach – it can soothe or arouse the driver depending on his condition, using salon lighting, audio system and massage. For this car collects data from a fitness bracelet.
The heated windshield does not have many annoying grids, but uses a special conductive layer that can heat the entire surface of the glass without “dead” zones. Among other innovations – the system automatically adjusts the seat for driver growth. Comfort is a subjective concept, so the system almost guessed with my height of 185 cm, although I still had to adjust the seats and steering wheel, and drivers with less growth had to change the settings completely.
The navigation system was both pleased and disappointed at the same time. I was impressed by the function of “augmented reality”, which is able to draw the navigator’s hints directly over the image from the video camera. This is especially useful when the system draws house numbers in the holiday village. However, navigation itself is irrationally using a huge display. As a result, we have a small arrow and a thin streamlet of the current route, while 95% of the screen area is filled with useless information, such as a green field or clouds, which constantly flash before my eyes.
Acquaintance with the car in motion began with the version of the GLE 450 with in-line gasoline turbo V6 with capacity of 3.0 liters, which gives 367 liters. with. and 500 N · m. Together with it, the starter-generator EQ Boost works – it provides an additional 22 liters. with. and as much as 250 N·m. EQ Boost helps in the first seconds of acceleration, and also quickly starts the engine while driving. The passport acceleration time to 100 km / h is 5.7 seconds, which is impressive “on paper”, and in life the sensations are somewhat more modest.
Settings allow you to vary the sharpness of the steering, the stiffness of the suspension and the response to the gas pedal as preset modes, and individually. Trying to get the maximum dose of comfort, at first I was even scared. Excessive emptiness in the near-zero zone forced to constantly steer on winding paths in the vicinity of San Antonio. As a result, the problem was solved by changing the steering settings to the “sport” mode. But the motor “sport” is contraindicated, if only you are not going to participate in the traffic light races: the revolutions persist in the region of 2000, which only adds to the nervousness.
I did not manage to find the real off-road in Texas, and therefore the expectations from the E-Active Body Control suspension turned out to be somewhat overestimated. In fact, GLE with a conventional air suspension and so provides a good level of comfort, therefore, comparing the car with the “super suspension” and without it, I would recommend not to overpay for it, besides, the amount will be rather big (about 7 thousand euros). Perhaps the effect on the roads will be more noticeable – although whom we cheat. Despite all the possibilities, few of the owners of the new GLE will sink into the impassable dirt. However, in this case, the choice of the Russian buyer will not be: E-ABC in the list of options for our market is missing.
But the diesel versions liked more, and in fact they account for the maximum demand (60%). Peres from the petrol version on the GLE 400 d, despite the lower power (330 hp), but due to the high moment (700 N · m), you feel a dense and less nervous acceleration. Yes, 0.1 seconds slower, but confidence and pleasure are much more. The brakes are adequate here, but what can we say about fuel consumption (7.0-7.5 per 100 km).
The most affordable will be the GLE 300 d with a four-cylinder turbo diesel volume of 2 liters (245 liters. Pp.), Nine-speed “automatic” and all-wheel drive. Such a crossover can accelerate to 100 km / h in just 7.2 seconds and a top speed of 225 km / h. It feels like sprint throws are given to a 2-liter diesel engine heavier than its 3-liter fellow. One feels “short of breath”, and the sound of the engine is not so noble. Otherwise, a great choice for those who do not want to overpay.
GLE now offers three-wheel-drive transmissions: four-cylinder versions will receive the old 4Matic system with permanent all-wheel drive and a symmetrical center differential, and all other modifications – transmission with multi-plate clutch front wheels. A full-range demultiplicator is available when ordering an Offroad package, in which, by the way, the ground clearance can reach a maximum of 290 mm.