“So what’s the best car you have ever driven?”
That’s a question every motoring journalist gets asked at least a couple dozen times in his career.
And it’s a dreaded question too, because there is no such thing as ‘the best car’.
Every car has its own special place, and it would be dreadful to label one car as the best car, ever.
But every once in a while we get to drive a car that seems to do everything perfectly.
It doesn’t seem to put a wheel wrong.
It has all the technologies you could want.
All the safety features too.
It has enough space for a family and their dog.
And it is luxurious too.
Those that have a need for speed will find the powertrain to be generous.
While those that want a laid back comfortable drive will find plenty of that too.
I am raving about the new Mercedes-Benz GLE 450 AMG.
It is not a proper fire-breathing AMG but features an AMG bodykit. It is a once in a lifetime SUV that is very nearly the perfect car.
Why very-nearly then? Because at a little under RM480,000, it isn’t exactly affordable for the masses. So there aren’t many people that will be able to experience its greatness.
But considering what you are getting for the price, it is actually a good deal.
The size of the SUV is the first thing that gets you because it is quite a big car.
Then there’s the design. It won’t be too far fetched to say that this SUV is arguably one of the prettiest to ever come out of Stuttgart.
It is definitely better looking than its coupe bodied twin, to my eyes at least.
Step inside and the large size of the GLE is echoed by the spacious cabin. Further echoed by the gargantuan panoramic roof that extends the length of the roof, allowing in a generous amount of light that further accentuates its spaciousness.
Having said that, I did find the driver footwell to be rather tight, especially around the knee area.
I love how massive the dashboard is and yet the switches and buttons were never more than a gentle stretch of the arm away.
And it is the huge 12.3-inch MBUX screen that dominates the dashboard.
The screen on the left is touch enabled and that is where you access your music, navigation and car controls such as air-conditioning and such.
The screen on the right and directly ahead of the driver though is where you get the usuals such as the speedometer and rpm dial, among others.
What’s cool about the current generation Benz’s is that the speedo and rpm dial as well as the ancillary information can all be customised to fit your mood.
There is Sport mode that turns the dials a shade of orange, while Basic simply gives you the necessities like speed and engine rpm.
This is among a host of other info of course like gear position, drive mode, the time and such.
The quality of everything is unlike modern Benz’s either, and that is a good thing.
In fact it reminds me of Benzes from the early 90s, well built, tough, and feels like everything would last a couple of decades.
It is probably the best Mercedes-Benz interior this side of an S-Class.
There are also two protruding hoops on the sides of the centre panel that seem like they came off a Porsche Cayenne.
They look awkward at first, but I later realised they are great armrests on long drives. They are also great to hang on too when the driver feels like wrestling some corners.
The rear seats are electronically adjustable with the controls located on the door panel, just as they are on the front (I love that about Benz’s).
The rear sitting space is spacious and very comfortable and that is putting it lightly.
There are also two hidden seats in the booth area, making the GLE a proper seven-seater.
These seats can be summoned into space or neatly tucked away by a press of a button located in the booth.
Of course, because they are placed in the booth so it is not very comfortable to sit in the third row. But they are perfect for children and vertically-challenged adults.
If you haven’t already realised, there isn’t much to complain about the GLE. I would perhaps have preferred a brighter coloured interior rather than the dark ash wood trimming, but that’s a personal choice.
I also don’t quite like the awkward looking dummy vent on the left of the MBUX screen. Surely the designers could have thought of something better.
But then the 590-watt 13-speaker Burmester sound system makes everything better.
I also love the way the GLE drives.
The 3.0-litre six-cylinder turbocharged engine puts out an impressive 364hp and 500Nm of torque. This is transferred to all-four wheels via a 9-speed gearbox.
Despite its weight, it’s no slouch either. It does the charge to 100km/h in just 5.7-seconds. And that ‘oh-so-sweet’ airmatic suspension system brilliantly disconnects you from bumpy, uneven roads and then reconnects you when you select Sport mode and want to wring the car by its steering wheel.
The GLE 450 AMG seems to have it all. It is ideal for the family man who needs comfort, space and safety and yet does not want to outgrow his inner power loving, corner carving youngster.
Personally, this is the SUV to have at the moment because the alternatives from BMW and Volvo are all hybrids. And we all know how the prices of hybrids tank as soon as the car leaves the showroom.
The GLE 450 AMG though, I personally think that there will be plenty of demand for it in the used car market as well, simply because it is that desirable. Watch the video below to get up close to the GLE 450 AMG!