I had the pleasure of being invited to participate at one the Mercedes-Benz all-wheel drive 4MATIC events (Take a look at our focus here): we started from Milan and I’ve reached the snowy peaks of the Passo del Tonale. Everyting starts at the Mercedes Benz Centre in Milan, a huge and visually striking dealer really close from what was the area of Milan’s EXPO.
Once the groups have been seleceted, we begin our journey to Ponte di Legno with a GLE 350d Coupe 4MATIC: an interesting SUV that boasts a true sporting spirit. Starting on the passenger seat, I explored this car better appreciating every detail, such as the leather quality or the fantastic Harman-Kardon Hi-Fi.
Aesthetically is very sporty, the front of this car is looks very aggressive for being an SUV. Near the village of Spinone al Lago we take advantage of the last light of the day to admire the GLE Coupé with the beautiful Lake Endine background.
This journey is really rewarding for the comfort offered by the GLE Coupé and the path that separates us to our destination near the Passo del Tonale. It’s time for me to drive and only with the steering wheel in my hands I can finally understand how this GLE may be an SUV and a coupé at the same time. To handle two totally different souls Mercedes-Benz has equipped this car with the DYNAMIC SELECT that, pushing a button on the tunnel, completely changes the car behavior.
In Comfort Mode the GLE Coupé is appreciated for the excellent work of the suspensions, which perfectly absorb the terrain, the steering wheel is soft and the engine works to ensure good efficiency and quietness. The Sport Mode wake the beast inside the GLE Coupé: the powerful Diesel, with almost 260HP, comes to life, steering and throttle become very responsive and the car set-up ensures a very low rolling considered the size and the mass of it.
The dual clutch 9 gears 9GTRONIC becomes much faster and more responsive for a better management of the immense torque of the engine. The road goes up and the night is falling allowing us to observe the LED headlights that, as always, are a technology that really helps a lot during night driving.
We are really close to the finish point and we realize that by watching the temperature going down and the first snow at the roadside. There are many things that I liked about this car even if I’m not a fan of SUVs. You can really drive the GLE Coupé 4MATIC like a sport car when you want to have fun and there is so much technology on board and the boot is really big. I still have some doubts on 9 speed gears, is the first vehicle that I drive with so many gears and I’m not yet fully convinced of their usefulness, I have to test it for more kilometers. Anyway in this journey from Milan to Ponte di Legno the GLE Coupé has allowed us to dominate the road feeling to drive a sports car.
We reach the Blue Hotel Acquaseria in Ponte di Legno for dinner where I also had the pleasure to meet with the members of the Mercedes-Benz Italian press office with whom we spend a nice evening. I get up with a white snow that falls, a wonderful panorama opens our day.
Ready to go, I get to the snow and ice circuit in Vermiglio with a Mercedes-Benz C-Class 4MATIC proceeding with the second test drive. The combination of Brilliant Blue and Artico Crystal Gray leather is simply wonderful and the panoramic roof is the icing on the cake.
Thinking about the three cars I’ve driven, this is definitely the one I liked the most in terms of aesthetics. During this short but intense 20km test drive the hairpins are full of ice and snow and this make me realize how much security is able to give the all wheel drive Mercedes-Benz 4MATIC.
The road conditions were really at the limit but the feeling is that during the driving the car is always sincere in what he transmits to the driver and that it is always easy to control. Many a time it happens in fact, driving in such conditions, to feel the car sliding understeering or oversteering, but the 4ETS system is always ready to help the driver. Truly amazing.
My day is getting better and better thanks to the AMG Driving Academy instructors that allow us to drive some of the AMG cars on a track made from snow and ice.
When my turn came I can test the Mercedes-Benz CLA 45 AMG 4MATIC with a 4-cylinder 2.0L Turbo engine delivering 361 HP. Despite being a beginner with drifting the 3-stage ESP system it makes everything seem easy, especially when the ESP SPORT HANDLING MODE is on, that helps me control oversteering by activating if the slip angle is too wide.
The result? Lots of fun and lots of adrenaline, also thanks to the sound and the drive of this beautiful engine. To show the skill of the instructors and the quality of these cars I ask to one of them to take me as a passenger on the track, you can see the result here.
For those who can have the chance, I really suggest to try an AMG Driving Academy event on snow, is definitely a must, thanks to the preparation of the instructors and fun guaranteed by the AMG range Mercedes-Benz cars. You learn a lot and you will also have a lot of fun.
My only regret is that I was not allowed to test other models, especially the Mercedes-Benz A-Class 45 AMG 4MATIC that i would really have a lot of curiosity to test, because of the high temperatures that have made the track not more praticable. I move my attention on the huge G-Class; a real monster with 45cm ground clearance, AMG V8 422HP engine and giant 325/55 22′ wheels.
A car that certainly will not sell so much in Italy, also because of the price from 262 000 euroS, but it definitely helps to keep alive the myth of the G-Class, an offroad car that in the 37 years of life has become an icon of offroading.
It’s time to leave the beautiful snow-covered landscapes to return in Milan. For my last test drive I have available a Mercedes-Benz CLS Shooting Brake 250d 4MATIC. As for the GLE Coupé is evident the intention of Mercedes-Benz to combine the highly sporty soul with a car that was born to be a station wagon.
Behind the wheel this feeling is confirmed by the classical and elegant dashboard, contrasting with the sporty windshield and leather seats. The line of this car with a very low centre of gravity is really successful and can satisfy those who need space and comfort but do not want to loose the fun and the passion for sporty driving.
A lot of the technology also on board, to be mentioned is definitely the useful 360° camera, Blind Spot Assist system (also found on the other two cars I’ve tried) and Lane Keeping Assist. Large numbers of active safety and driving aids for a car that knows ho to make the driver feeling immersed in luxury and attracts for its original lines.
Upon arriving at Mercedes-Benz Center in Milan a wonderful experience ends. I could better understand how important for safety can be driving a car with 4MATIC all-wheel drive and how Mercedes Benz has managed to turn this solution into immersive driving experience, never forgetting the importance of using winter tires in these situations.
Mercedes Benz has also decided to celebrate 4MATIC with a limited-edition “4MATIC Force” versions of A-Class, B-Class, C-Class SW and Sedan, CLS Sedan and Shooting Brake and S-Class guaranteeing those who buy wide range of equipment and nice savings.
Have a look at our focus on 4MATIC!
By: Edoardo Mascalchi
Photos: Edoardo Mascalchi