Mercedes-Benz Malaysia (MBM) has officially unveiled its new lineup of SUVs that will shortly land in showrooms within and along Malaysian shores. This development follows the regional releases for some of these models, such as the Indonesia-bound GLC in the latter half of 2015, and begins the pouncing preparations just prior to MBM’s planned local assault on premium SUV mainstays from rival German marques such as BMW and Audi.
But instead of opting for a steady and staged release to test the temperature and/or build momentum, the Malaysian market receives a single shot of three all-new SUVs, alluding to the confidence that MBM have in their customer base here, both existing and prospective.
“It Is Time To Conquer”, reads the tag line, accompanied by the hashtag #hungryforadventure. At an event held at the meticulously trimmed grounds of the Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre (KLPac), the GLC, GLE, and GLE Coupe were slowly being verbally and visually built up by the usual blitz of PR and marketing before the ceremonious tarps were pulled back. Actually and quite tellingly, there was no tarp at all covering any of the cars.
While the media got an early preview to be able to bring this piece of news to your screen, you can go admire the cars for yourself as they will be on display, open to the public from Friday (the 15th) until Sunday (the 17th) of January.
Let’s see what Mercedes-Benz Malaysia has brought to the party.
All-New Mercedes-Benz GLC 250 4MATIC, Priced At RM328,888
Taking the reins from the previous GLK-Class that made its entrance in 2008, the GLC-Class takes on a fresh new look and the right credentials to put up a tough fight for the BMW X3 and Audi Q5 to go along with its mildly altered name. Regionally, it’s the first such vehicle from Mercedes-Benz to compete in this field, as the previous GLK was only available in left-hand drive.
The model we see on show here is the GLC 250, which is powered by a turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine similar to the unit in that powers the A 250 Sport, chucking out 211hp and 350Nm of torque, paired to a 9G-TRONIC nine-speed automatic, a transmission that also makes its local debut alongside the GLC.
Taking a step inside, the interior would be quite familiar to those accustomed to the latest generation of Mercedes-Benz vehicles - the W205 C-Class, in particular, with the centre console and the primary controls and surfaces within arm or elbow reach. In the centre rests the familiar floating display screen above three air conditioning vents while infotainment and climate control toggles placed below that.
All-New Mercedes-Benz GLE
The Mercedes-Benz GLE is the three-pointed star’s main SUV offering, the entrant that will compete against BMW’s X5 (but isn’t quite big enough to go head-to-head with the Audi Q7), and is a successor to the Mercedes-Benz ML-Class. The naming change comes off company-wide updated nomenclature structure, and in addition that the new GLE gains updates that run deeper than badge lettering.
The car rests on an AIRMATIC air suspension with the ADS variable damping system that pretty much guarantees a smooth ride on everything except the most rutted roads.
The large five seater SUV will come in a total of two variants, which include the GLE 250 d 4MATIC and the GLE 400 4MATIC. The former being powered by 2.1-litre 4-cylinder turbodiesel engine with 204hp and 500Nm of torque, mated to a 9G-TRONIC nine-speed automatic transmission.
The GLE 400 4MATIC is powered by a 3.0-litre twin-turbocharged V6 engine that outputs 333hp and 480Nm of torque, transmitting power to all four wheels through a 7G-TRONIC seven-speed automatic transmission.
All-New Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe
While the GLE Coupe - at least in how it’s named - impresses upon it’s lineage being derived from the GLE, in actuality the two models are actually quite different. To wear the Coupe moniker, Mercedes-Benz have fashioned the car as a truly new model that shares very little with the GLE.
Clearly, it’s a response to BMW’s X6. The swept-back roofline of the GLE Coupe is indeed a slicker-looking thing than your usual SUV, but that low roofline does impede cabin space, with tall passengers having to think twice upon entering and some pieces of flat-packed furniture, say, might need another means of transportation.
Those trade-offs aside, however, let’s hope that Mercedes-Benz has learned from the original X6’s stumbles, and specifically emerges out of the gates with a more compliant suspension for our very imperfect roads.
There will be two variants of the GLE Coupe coming to showrooms: the GLE 400 4MATIC Coupe and sportier GLE 450 AMG 4MATIC Coupe. Starting with the GLE 400, it receives the same 3.0-litre V6 twin-turbo engine as the GLE (non Coupe) with 333hp and 480Nm of torque. Above that sits the sportier GLE 450 AMG 4MATIC Coupe, and is powered by an uprated 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 engine with 367hp and 520Nm.
Mercedes-Benz Malaysia seems to have a strong trio here that’s ready to take on the premium end of the SUV market, and by the looks of things, are pushing to popularise them in much the same way it did with their latest A-Class (W176).
We look forward to testing all three of these cars in the near future and bring a worthwhile verdict to you, our dear readers, so stay tuned for that.
There's just something about cars. It's a conveyance, it's a liability, it's a tool; but it can also be a source of joy, pride, inspiration and passion. It's much like clothes versus fashion. And like the latter, the pursuit of perfection never ends.