Car review: Driving the mighty Mercedes-Benz GLE 450 to the Desaru Coast
Intelligent and attentive
In just the last year, I’ve been to the Desaru Coast four times. My husband and I joke that it has become our second kampung as we’ve frequented the coastal area more than we’ve actually returned to our hometowns. The calm and scenic town has grown to become one of our favourite holiday destinations, and each time we’ve visited, we’ve had different driving experiences. Recently, we returned for another excursion, and this time, the 377 km drive there was the most enjoyable of all, thanks to the Mercedes-Benz GLE 450.
I’ve always fancied SUVs compared to any car body configuration as they are more spacious, offer taller seating and are boldly utilitarian. I’m a tall person myself and I prefer to climb into a car rather than bend down to get into it. At 1797mm high and 2022mm wide, the GLE 450 offers all the room my small family and I needed for a comfortable journey. Being a much bigger body than what I am used to driving, at first I was worried that navigating the vehicle would be a huge challenge but thanks to its advanced safety and assistance features such as Blind Spot Assist, Lane Tracking, Active Distance Assist and 360° camera that help detect nearby obstacles, I was able to drive the GLE 450 confidently.
As with any Mercedes model, its exterior is visually appealing, featuring a muscular form and clean, sensual lines. Lean and sporty with 21-inch light-alloy wheels, the GLE 450 looks both powerful and elegant at the same time. It is enhanced with a diamond radiator grille and chrome pins for added sparkle and at the rear, the vehicle is defined by distinct triangular tail lamps.
On the inside
The interior of this SUV is impeccably put-together with comfortable leather seats that can accommodate a family of five. However, if you’re planning to bring along more people, you can choose to add an optional third row to fit an extra two. The GLE 450 is Mercedes’ first SUV to feature the revolutionary MBUX (Mercedes-Benz User Experience) infotainment system, which uses artificial intelligence to enhance every moment you spend inside the vehicle. Some features include a navigation assistant, customised display styles on its 12.3-inch widescreen cockpit—which can be operated via touchscreen or the trackpad on the steering wheel—and Natural Voice Control. Think of it as the ‘Siri’ of your car. Processing indirect speech, the system can help you increase and lower temperature settings, tell you the weather and so much more by voice command.
The leg room on the rear seats is the biggest amongst its competitors, and that truly makes a difference if you’re travelling with children who get restless from the long drive. My one criticism would be the placement of the rear passenger air conditioning controls, which are located at the back of the cabin armrest, in between the two front seats. It always seems to get in the way of my son as he moves from one end of the car to another.
The SUV features a panaromic sunroof, offering a convertible-style experience minus the heat. When activated, it spans both the front and back seats and offers an added sense of openness with more natural lighting in the cabin, presenting a beautiful view of the open road as I drive along the highway.
The main highlight of driving the GLE 450 straight for five hours is the drive quality. Featuring a 3.0L six-cylinder petrol engine, the car can pick up speed and accelerate oh-so smoothly. Keeping to the speed limit proved to be difficult due to how dynamic the engine is. The vehicle offers a lot of power while hardly making any noise, making the drive a calming one. The GLE 450 offers Mercedes’ Airmatic feature–an automatic air suspension that’s able to adjust accordingly to different driving conditions, keeping you steady and comfortable, even on bad roads. There’s also the option to lower and raise your suspension for easy loading of cargo.
All in all, the GLE 450 is a smooth and speedy SUV that drives like a dream on long-haul journeys. If you're looking for a family car and this is within your budget, don't bother looking elsewhere as it checks all the boxes on style, comfort and performance.
The retail price of the Mercedes-Benz GLE 450 starts at RM509,888. For more information, click here.
For more motoring stories, click here.