Mercedes unveils new GLB and GLE Coupe
A raft of new SUV models bolster the triple-pointed star’s adventure vehicle range
SUVs have grown to comprise 30% of the Mercedes-Benz product portfolio as consumers increasingly buy into the perceived superior safety and practicality of higher-riding vehicles.
The German luxury brand now offers nine of these adventure model ranges and globally more than 6.5-million Mercedes SUVs have been sold to date. Mercedes-Benz SA has emerged from months of lockdown with several new SUV models added to its local range.
GLE 400d Coupe
The sportier cousin of the GLE (formerly known as the M-Class), the GLE Coupe has a curvier roofline to add some swagger to the space and practicality.
Initially this premium SUV is available in a single model: the GLE 400d 4Matic priced at R1,827,800, with power supplied by a 3.0l six-cylinder turbo diesel engine mustering 243kW and 700Nm of torque. This big diesel dashes from 0-100km/h in just 5.7 seconds, says Mercedes, and sips 7.4l per 100km.
High-performance AMG 53 and AMG 63 versions will arrive here next year.
Under the lowered roofline is a spacious five-seater cabin and a generously-sized 655l boot, and it’s equipped with the latest generation MBUX (Mercedes-Benz User Experience) infotainment system.
All-wheel drive and an offroad drive mode with fully variable torque distribution provide useful all-terrain capability, which can be further enhanced with optional height-adjustable Airmatic air suspension.
From a relatively small niche, the SUV coupé segment has developed into a "trend within a trend" and includes rivals such as the BMW X6, Porsche Cayenne Coupe and the upcoming Audi Q5 Sportback.
The GLB is an all-new product range and is the first Benz compact SUV to optionally offer seven seats. It joins the compact car family of the A-Class Hatch, A-Class Sedan, B-Class, CLA and the GLA.
A length of 4,634mm gives the GLB a roomy five-seater cabin while the two optional third-row seats can take people up to 1.68m tall. The 570l boot can be increased to 1,805l with the seats folded and the second row can be moved fore and aft to enlarge the boot by up to 190l.
The car’s available in two versions: the front-wheel drive GLB 250 powered by a 2.0l petrol turbo offering 165kW and 350Nm priced at R839,760, and an all-wheel drive GLB 220d 4Matic with a 2.0l turbo diesel with 140kW and 400Nm, priced at R846,880. Both models are paired with eight-speed automatic transmissions.
The GLB has a boxy design to emphasise an offroad character, complete with stylised front and rear skid plates. But it’s no baby Gelandewagen; though the 4Matic version is capable of light offroad work, the car’s limited ground clearance makes it more suited to the tar than the gravel trails.
Also built on an A-Class platform, the GLA is the brand’s entry-level compact SUV. The second-generation GLA has arrived in SA boasting a roomier interior than its predecessor, and more advanced driver assistance features including Active Brake Assist.
There are two engine options, both paired with front-wheel drive. The GLA 200 has a 1.3l turbo petrol engine with 120kW and 250Nm of torque and is mated to a seven-speed automatic transmission.
The GLA 200d has a 2.0l turbo diesel mustering 110kW and 350Nm through an eight-speed auto.
A neat trick in the GLA is a car wash function: with just one command, the exterior mirrors are folded in, the side windows and sliding roof closed, and the climate control switches to air-recirculation mode.
There are standard, AMG Line and Edition 1 grades available, with prices ranging from R679,040 to R714,560.
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