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[Behind the wheel] Mercedes-Benz targets SUV market with GLS, GLE Coupe

Mercedes-Benz has recently launched two sport utility vehicles, GLS and GLE Coupe, in South Korea to target the growing premium SUV market.

“We have achieved the goal of doubling SUV sales this year thanks to the continued rollout of upgraded models,” Mercedes-Benz Korea CEO Dimitris Psillakis said at a recent launch event.

The chief also added that the SUV market in Korea is expected to continue growing, despite the saturated vehicle market here.

The German auto giant had sold 7,454 SUVs this year through October, a whopping 170 percent growth from the previous year.

Last week, Mercedes-Benz Korea invited the press to get behind the wheel of the two premium SUVs through a test drive from Benz’s training academy in Yongin, Gyeonggi Province, to the Yongin Speedway at Everland Resort. 

GLE Coupe (Mercedes-Benz)
GLE Coupe (Mercedes-Benz)


During the 70-kilometer round trip, both SUVs felt sturdy, stable and quiet on winding and slippery roads.

The first impression of the seven-seater GLS was that it was huge at 5.13-meters long, 1.98-meters wide and 1.88-meters tall.

With a push of a button located at the center of the car, the seats in the second and third rows folded automatically, offering up to 2,300 liters of loading space.

The new GLS provides a maximum of 258 horsepower and torque of 63.2 kilogram-meters, with new nine-speed automatic transmission and six-cylinder petrol.

In comfort mode, the new SUV was well controlled and offered peppy acceleration, breaking the stereotype that the feel of a large SUV is slow and heavy. Switching to sport mode, the steering tightened with a full sense of power from the stronger engine.

GLS features diverse driving assistance system such as the Distance Pilot Distronic, which comfortably maintains the distance from the vehicle in front when driving in stop-start traffic, and the Active Brake Assist with cross-traffic function, which warns the driver in the event of an imminent collision and brakes the vehicle autonomously in an emergency.

The GLE Coupe was designed to be longer, wider and lower than the GLE to highlight its sporty side.

The new Coupe’s five modes let a driver choose from sublime comfort to the highly athletic sport mode. Each setup dials in the adaptive suspension, steering, throttle, transmission and exhaust note to suit the road and drivers’ mood.

Similar to the GLS, the GLE Coupe performed well on slippery and winding roads by swiftly responding to handling in a similar way to the GLS. It was unwavering even on sharp turns

The chief said Mercedes-Benz Korea would continue to strengthen its SUV lineup by unveiling new premium SUVs.

“We will secure a total of seven premium SUV lineups next year by adding (the) new mid-size SUV, GLC Coupe, in the first half,” he said.

By Shin Ji-hye (shinjh@heraldcorp.com)

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