Ian Lamming drives two of the very latest SUVs from Mercedes.
I MUST admit, I’m a bit in awe of Mercedes at the moment.
It seems, from the humble A Class to the mighty G63AMG, this German marque can do no wrong.
Somewhere in between these fine and splendid models lie a couple of new SUVs which leave me reeling; the brand new GLE and planet saving EQC.
The former is the latest reworking of a classic 4×4 which improves on the already excellent model, the latter is the brand’s take on an all-conquering electric vehicle. Both are equally lovely to drive despite having motors which are polar opposites.
I must admit, I’m confused and bewildered at the moment. Diesels have never been better and the 2.0 litre under the bonnet of the GLE is a fine example. Though cleaner than ever before there are those out there, including Governments, who blame diesels for the world’s ills, including killing the dinosaurs, making them persona non grata in many camps.
Then there’s the EQC, a similarly sized vehicle with slightly more futuristic looks, but no combustion engine. Instead there’s a stonking electric motor which should be good for about 250 miles between charges – and there’s the rub, charging it. Fantastic but still challenging to win over converts.
Opposite ends of the spectrum on the motor front, yes, but both vehicles share Mercedes DNA to die for.
Inside each is an exceptional cabin, with the now familiar long glass dashboard. I absolutely love it. It looks amazing and is easy and instinctive to use – even for self-confessed Luddite like myself.
There’s a small, chunky, tactile, flat-bottomed, suede-feel steering wheel, which is a pleasure to hold. When you do, the responses are phenomenally sharp. Ride and control, while erring on the firm and sporting, are still comfortable and cossetting, adding to an already peerless can ambience.
Then there are all manner of design sensations to enjoy, from the latest hi-tech infotainment centre to the puddle lamps which shine the Mercedes brand downwards to prevent you from stepping into nasties in the dark.
New GLE has more modern lines, curvaceous ones at that and while it is longer, wider and taller than the outgoing model, it is a bit lower for ease of access. It’s a big car yet one of the easiest I have come across to park thanks to brilliant all-round cameras which somehow project a brilliant bird’s eye view.
Seven seats are a boon when the rear-most set are drawn from the load bay floor. When they aren’t needed and are stowed away, the extra space offers cavernous carrying capacity. Life is good then in the GLE.
EQC is something else. Similarly sized and appointed, the difference comes when you step on the throttle. Mountainous torque is instant, your head flies back to hit the headrest and you are in danger of snapping your neck, or at the very least giving yourself whiplash. OMG! This is one blisteringly quick, powerful and torquey vehicle, with a useful range of around 250 miles.
In so many ways these SUVs are so different yet in others virtually the same offering different takes on a modern 4×4, equally awesome in their own inimitable styles. No wonder I’m in awe – and a little confused.
Mercedes GLE 300d 4Matic AMG Line
Engine: 2.0 diesel
Power: 245hp (500Nm of torque)
0-62mph: 7.2 secs
Top speed: 140mph
Combined MPG: 39.2
Transmission: nine-speed automatic
CO2 g/km: 169
Price: £59,365.00 including options
Mercedes EQC 400 4Matic AMG Line
Power: 408hp (760 Nm of torque)
0-62mph: 5.1 secs
Top speed: 112mph
Range: 250 miles
Transmission: single-speed automatic
CO2 g/km: 0
Price: £73,700.00 including options