Every now and then a vehicle comes along that is perfectly suited and crafted for long adventures on the open road. Last month I was lucky enough to drive one such vehicle and take it out on a short road trip to the historic Scottish town of St Andrews. It is a journey I’ve done before but never in quite so much comfort and elegance. This time I would be making said trip in the magnificent Mercedes-Benz GLE SUV.
When Stratstone first got in touch about working together on this little project I was bursting at the seems with excitement. I have been a massive fan of the German automaker for quite some time. Last year here at The Gentleman Select I attended 50 years of AMG at Silverstone race track and it was mind-blowingly exciting to say the least, this however was going to be a slightly different form of excitement. Away from the hardcore track orientated machines and racing helmets it was time to indulge in the utmost luxury and surroundings, gliding along motorways and country roads like I was on some sort of magic carpet.
My GLE journey began when I picked up the car from Stratstone Mercedes in Glasgow. A fantastic branch with a brilliant range of vehicles to choose from. If you are a bit of a car nut like myself then you could certainly spend a few hours walking around this garage. Heading out to the courtyard I was greeted by the brawny Mercedes Benz GLE I would be driving for the long weekend and my goodness did it look good. Specifically this was the 350d 4Matic AMG Line Night Edition, all decked out in black from top to bottom. I have to admit I found myself staring at it for quite some time.
Once I opened the car and climbed inside, I was instantly smiling. The empowering AMG black was offset by sharp, subtle hints of aluminium on the dash board, central command section and steering wheel. The chap from Stratstone gave me a good overview of all the key features and points I needed to know about. Something I was very much impressed by actually was how quickly and efficiently the bluetooth pairing worked between phone and car. Many times have i sat toggling the switch on and off in the hope of a link, not in the GLE, pure German efficiency at its best.
Quite some time later after we had chatted away about various cars, I fired up the GLE and was ready to go. Carefully navigating my way out of the carpark I was out onto the roads and heading home. For me the distance between my home and Stratstone Glasgow is actually pretty short and I really wanted to get a feel for what the GLE was like on a multitude of different roads and scenarios, cruising along the motorway, traveling a longer distance and the winding country roads of scenic Scotland. In order to cover all of the afore mentioned, I decided to take the Mercedes GLE on a little road trip in which I set my destination as the scenic coastal town of St Andrews, perfect for getting to grips with this already very impressive car.
Roughly 80 miles away, St Andrews lay ahead on this clear, fresh Sunday morning and straight away, I couldn’t think of another SUV to do this trip in. The level of comfort in the Mercedes GLE is incredible. Sumptuous leather cocoons you in a raised seating position that offers the driver fantastic all-round vision. Of course these seats are also heated and have a multitude of electric adjustment options of which you can actually save three of your favourite to raise the comfort and simplicity barrier even further. On the door and something which caught my eye straight away was the sleek, metallic Harmon Kardon speakers. Part of the Logic 7 surround sound system on the Premium Plus equipment options, they deliver deep, ultra sharp sound which had me toggling through the selection of pre-programmed radio stations to give my favourite tunes a whirl in amazing quality. Within the cabin front and rear there is also a great deal of space. A massive boot will easily fit a variety of luggage sizes or several golf bags whilst the passenger seating has more than adequate leg room for four tall adults, allowing them like the front passenger to lounge in the upmost comfort as they are chauffeured.
Floating along the motorway section of the journey I was amazed at just how smooth the ride in the GLE was for a big vehicle. The 20″ AMG 5-twin-spoke bicolour alloy wheels are not only a joy to look at but majestic in how they carry you along the road, working in perfect harmony with the Mercedes Airmatic air suspension. To firm up the ride just a little you can engage the vehicles Drive Select system by turning this to Sport mode, it will also alter the weight of the steering and throttle response for a more intense experience. Personally I felt no matter what mode the GLE was in the engine was very receptive. The impressive 3.0-litre V6 turbo always purrs away contently delivering o-62mph in a swift 7.1 seconds, again pretty quick for a a vehicle of this size. Along with the host of gadgets on the centre console, the steering wheel itself provides plenty of finger tip toys, from simple radio and cruise controls to paddle gearshifts allowing you to switch through the 9G – TRONIC 9 – speed gearbox at your own pace.
Motoring closer to St Andrews we moved onto the country roads, something again the Mercedes GLE absorbed and adapted to with ease. Now I must say if you have ever been in this old Scottish town then you will know the streets are pretty narrow to say the least, even more so when you are trying to thread a big machine round them and park it properly. Thankfully again the GLE would make this no problem at all. The Active Parking Assist is an absolutely magical piece of equipment. It gives you a birds eye, 360 degree view of the vehicle via four high-tech cameras in key positions on the outside which then appears on the multimedia display screen, allowing ultimate accuracy and ease as you negotiate the SUV into a space. Believe it or not I actually opted to parallel park, an action that was genuinely smoother and easier than what I’ve found in my own car.
As I stood on the pavement, I admired not only my fine parking attempt, but again just how good looking the GLE was. It sat there with authority, looking super cool and gleaming in the afternoon sunlight with its sharp lines and menacing grill. After an afternoon in St Andrews, driving it back home and then finally returning the impressive Mercedes to Stratstone Glasgow that Monday afternoon, I can honestly admit a feeling of sadness on seeing it go.
I had really enjoyed getting to grips with the GLE over a long weekend and integrating it into my daily lifestyle, something which it slotted into seamlessly with great ease. There were so many features I loved about it, right down to small things such as the light up door sills. A feature on many Mercedes I know but if you are car daft like me then you will appreciate even the most minute of details. I of course only used the car for a long journey however being an SUV, the GLE also has serious clout as an off-roader making it a highly versatile beast to. If you are looking for the latter or just an exceedingly good, punchy and comfortable SUV then the Mercedes GLE is well worth considering. Check out the offers here. Its certainly one I would have in my driveway.