Not too long ago we managed to get our hands on the Mercedes-Benz GLE 450, which proved to be an impressive machine especially in the area of driving comfort and suppleness. The air suspension and a feathery steering wheel being the main culprits in this charming act. The charm worked as intended and because of that, we decided to delve deeper into the GLE range to what else we could discover.

The GLE400d AMG Line was our next victim, and rightfully so since we had sampled the petrol derivative – it only made sense to drive the diesel next. The two could not have been more distinct. The main difference here is, of course, the source of power – where the GLE 450 is a 3-litre inline six-cylinder petrol and does a great job, the GLE 400d is paired to the same size powertrain, just with an appetite for diesel fuel. In this guise, the oil burner is a completely different machine altogether. With 243 kW and 700 Nm, the GLE 400d is strong and it makes no secret of this, its power is available instantly and on-demand with no delays or noises associated with diesel powertrains. However strong and crisp this diesel engine is, we must acknowledge BMW’s equivalent 30d engine for being one of the finest in this displacement range, regardless of its application.

On the road the 400d positions itself as the dynamic member of the GLE family. It feels very sporty and planted, with a nice and weighty steering wheel to match its athletic disposition. In a very different way to its petrol stablemate, the diesel also feels good on the road. We may have forgotten to mention the beefy six-cylindersoundtrack that resonates through the cabin every time you give the SUV a jab of throttle.

Space is still ample inside this car, making it great for practical applications like being a family car, despite it having athletic genes. There is, however, a very noticeable difference between the two GLE’s interiors. For it to be a comprehensive package, Mercedes-Benz fitted this AMG Line variant with sporty leather seats which include Alcantara trimmings. It certainly looks the way it feels, even from the outside the SUV’s masculine stance is a product of 21-inch AMG wheels, which further enhance the GLE’s sporty appearance, and of course, add to its handling and driving dynamics.

Much-like the petrol GLE, this variant also gives customers the option of seven seats should they so wish. An electronically adjustable second row of seats will do everything from moving forwards and backwards to reclining, a nice premium touch. This is a vehicle you can enjoy driving and being driven in, that we can tell you, even without the air suspension found in the petrol variant. The GLE 400d still offers an all-wheel-drive 4×4 system, meaning it will run on tar with confidence, and it will also do off-road excursions if you’re brave enough to attempt this in such a fine looking car.

The Mercedes-Benz GLE 400d is such a well put together offering that it took the trophy for the South African Premium SUV category at a local car awards ceremony in 2020.

Price – R1 500 000

By Gugu Masuku