raw, expansive and beautiful: just a few ways to describe the state of texas. its also a few ways to describe the all-new mercedes-benz GLE. at the wheel, designboom drove the SUV through the state – specifically from the big bend national park by the rio grande to the contemporary desert town of marfa and then further west to el paso – to test whether everything is truly bigger and better in texas.


designboom editor tim spears driving the GLE
all images courtesy of daimler AG

 

 

there’s only one place to start with the merecedes-benz GLE and that’s its larger proportions. with an additional wheelbase length of 80mm, passengers in the rear are treated to 69mm more legroom and 825 liters of luggage space. as well as this, the result delivers what gordon wagener, chief design officer at daimler AG, calls the perfect SUV proportions, and he is certainly not wrong.

 

 

exuding presence and power, the exterior design removes edges to match the brand’s sensual purity design philosophy. the long wheelbase is paired with short overhangs, large flush-fitted wheels and insert bumpers for an athletic SUV aesthetic. all of this surrounds smooth, sculpted surfaces where only one line, called the catwalk, extends from near the front’s octagonal radiator grille to the rear. glimmering in the texan sun, the eye follows this line along the side towards the dominant, sporty C-pillars, the powerful shoulder muscles and distinctive tail-lights.

 

 

the perfect proportions are truly felt in the interior as well. enclosed by the gentle closing doors, the generous space blends the luxury of a saloon with the robustness of an SUV. at its heart is the sporty cockpit where a prominent, raised center console unites two large 12.3-inch screens next to one another. with expansive areas of trim, flowing leather surfaces wrap passengers in a modern, elegant atmosphere that, by isolating exterior noise and vibrations, is nearly completely silent along the desert roads.

 

 

when driving, one of most impressive features is the next-generation head-up display, which now offers a resolution of 720 x 240 pixels that is 20% brighter and twice as big as previously. the car also benefits from an array of other next-gen driving assistance systems, which are much needed on the straight roads of west texas. these include active distance assist, active stop-and-go assist and active steering assist to just name a few.

 

 

however, it is on the winding, rocky trails of the big bend national park where the SUV’s capabilities are really showcased. for starters, its lightweight bodyshell is 20% more torsionally rigid. this, as well as the E-ACTIVE BODY CONTROL suspension, makes the ride even better in terms of comfort and agility round corners. and with the 450 4MATIC engine, which delivers 367 hp and 500 nm of torque, the fun, easy driving experience is completed.


image © designboom

 

 

the mercedes-benz GLE, which hits the market in 2019, conquers all that west texas can offer, and that really is a lot. the size is expansive yet still sporty. the performance feels raw and robust yet is easy to control. and the design is progressive yet sits stunningly within the brand’s portfolio. when driving through the legendary desert town of marfa, the GLE appeared perfect for the rugged but contemporary lifestyle.

 


image © designboom

 


image © designboom

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