Simply not your typical all-terrain bundu-basher

2009-10-30 12:00

FOR a moment, try imagine a hiking couple climbing Mount Everest wearing a tuxedo and an elegant ballgown ... indeed something is awry with this picture, but it can be done. The question is why would anyone want to get their finest outfits covered in dirt and grime?

With the above in mind, I am brought to the face-lift Mercedes Benz GL model, a sports utility vehicle (SUV) for the well-off.
It’s a sophisticated and stylish SUV that it almost does not fit the role of an all-terrain bundu-basher.

Compared to the likes of Toyota’s Land Cruiser or Tata’s Land Rover, the GL looks too pretty to be considered – by its owner – for off-road duty.

Mercedes-Benz SA says the typical GL owner does not take the car to the extremes of which it is capable, adding that the luxury seven-seater makes for a good car for the type of people who enjoy spending time with family and friends. To them, it is all about good life and taste.

The car manufacturer has not changed the engines of the two models in this range – the 5.5?litre?V8?petrol and the 3.0?litre?V6?turbo-diesel, which sport a Blue Tec badge supposed to emphasise the ­aerodynamic changes in the styling.

This package boasts a more economic-friendly 7G-Tronic self-shifter and low resistance tyres designed for lower fuel consumption. While the car might be more eco-friendly, it is still a gas-guzzler of note.

The GL comes standard with a 100-litre fuel tank capacity and has a claimed combined figure by European standards of 13.5l/100km for the V8 and 9.3l/100km in the V6.

The face-lifted GL was launched in the artsy little town of Clarens in the Free State. The drive from Johannesburg to Clarens gave the motoring media a ­generous feel of how the car behaved under various conditions – ranging from smooth to bumpy roads with the occasional dodging of massive potholes.

I had bit of a trouble keeping my eyes open in the passenger seat when my driving partner had his turn behind the wheel. The seats are so unbelievably luxurious, one wants to melt into them.

On arrival in Clarens, the weather changed and it started raining, but Merc’s management allowed for the cars to be taken off-road to show their ­capabilities. We did a short challenging trail where a couple of cars got stuck and almost couldn’t make the muddy climbs, but those fancy GL’s pulled through. The following day we did a good 50km stretch on gravel roads and even then the ride was relatively comfortable.

Merc said apart from the subtle aesthetic changes to the wheels, a more detailed grille and a front bumper, there are also optional LED daytime running lights available.

The GL now comes standard with features such as the 20-inch rims, roof rails, the command navigation and the R22 000 entertainment system. 

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