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There are few badges that can even compare to the iconic status of Mercedes-Benz. Everyone who is anyone has owned and driven a car from the badge, and for good reason. The Mercedes motto is: “Das Beste oder Nichts” which literally means – “the best or nothing”.
My own short career as a motoring reviewer started with the Mercedes A-Class and this week, I got my second taste of Mercedes-Benz magic as I test-drove the new GLE 450 SUV.
I fell in love at first glance with the AMG styling and the 20-inch light-alloy wheels. Getting in, the first thing I noticed was the brown walnut trim and the espresso-brown artificial leather seats. And as I started the car, it softly purred awake, with a light green (customisable) ambient lighting flowing through the car.
As I took the 4matic 3.0-litre 367hp silent beast out on the road, I couldn’t help but ruminate on the quality that is a given with any Mercedes.
It’s a given that every Mercedes will give you a smooth well-engineered squeak-free ride, with 10,000 welds per car to ensure no nut or bolt gets loose, assembled by a single highly-qualified technician trained in Mercedes-Benz’s “one man, one engine” philosophy.
It’s a given that you will be highly comfortable in the ergonomic seats, designed with the support (pun intended) of orthopedic surgeons.
It’s also a given that you are not just driving a car. You are driving a legacy. There is an unspoken respect on the road for a car driving under the badge of the world’s first-ever officially licensed automobile driver.
But, the GLE 450 is not just about the given base line. It has features built-in that seem so simple yet logical that you quickly get used to having them around. The highlight of these was the Mercedes-Benz User Experience (MBUX) on the 12.3-inch touchscreen.
This time around, I wanted to really put the assistant through the works, so I set up a profile, inputting my height and age, and connecting my smartphone via a simple tap against the NFC charging pad in the front console.
Automatically, the seat and steering adjusted to the perfect position, letting me know that there was room to store two more preferred positions for anyone else who may drive the car.
The thing about the MBUX is not just the Burmester-surround sound entertainment, quick navigation or highly-detailed built-in diagnostic tools; what really stands out is that the system genuinely becomes your assistant, getting to know you based on your habits, the music you listen to and your interactions with the MBUX system.
For example, a few hours after setting up my profile, as I waited in Bahrain’s atrocious afternoon traffic, a note popped up, suggesting a “Refresh experience” since I had been stationary for so long.
Obviously, I said yes, and the next thing I knew, the seat’s cooling system turned on, the internal climate control created a breezy experience and the seat started to give me a gentle back massage!
I felt refreshed and headed off with our photographer to get some photos done. But, really, one does not really know one has driven a Mercedes, until one drives another car afterwards.
As I got into my own car, I immediately missed the massive panoramic sliding sunroof. As I got back on the road, I missed the 9G-Tronic advanced transmission, the silent but deadly transmission flowing power throughout the machine. And as three drivers from our neighbouring country cut me off, I missed the Lane-Assist, blind spot monitoring and the most surreal feature of all – the Parktronic parking assistance that automatically finds nearby parking spots and then auto-parks for you!
It genuinely felt like I was sitting in a luxury space shuttle at times, especially with the heads up display, showing me the speed and navigational instructions right on the windshield. The only minor point of contention I had was that the vehicle only had USB C ports, not legacy USB interfaces.
In the evening, as I drove back, I was sad to hand the car back over because once you have driven a Mercedes-Benz, everything else just looks... pedestrian.
The GLE 450 is available at the Al Haddad Motors, starting at BD 31,500. Call 1778 5454 to book your test drive today!