With the new Mercedes-Benz GLE and GLE Coupé through Europe. A guest article from Brian Leavy.

#MBpolarSun: a road trip from the Alps to Cape North.

With the new Mercedes-Benz GLE and GLE Coupé through Europe.

A guest article from Brian Leavy.

Photos: Brian Leavy / Mercedes-Benz Media
Text: Brian Leavy

GLE 350 d 4MATIC:

Fuel consumption combined: 6.4 l/100 km;

CO₂ emissions combined: 169 g/km.*

“Where are you going sir?”

After the usual queue at Heathrow, I show my passport at the customs gate. “Where are you going sir?” the police officer asks. “I’m going to Cape North in Norway by crossing eight countries in less than ten days”, I reply. The officer doesn’t answer, just hands my passport back with a big smile. And I’m on my way: together with 20 international bloggers for a great road trip organised by Mercedes-Benz, driving in their new SUVs, the GLE and GLE Coupé, from Kitzbühel in Austria to Cape North in Norway.

The Mercedes-Benz GLE in the woods.

The off-road talents of the new GLE.

Initially I didn’t expect such off-road capabilities on our organized journey from a car that looks so elegant at first glance. Although the Mercedes-Benz GLE has plenty to offer. Thanks to its AIR BODY CONTROL with adaptive damping and the all-round level control incorporated in the system and Downhill Speed Regulation (DSR), we can basically take any exit, road or what looks like a road without any concerns about damaging the car, or worse, getting stuck.

The Mercedes-Benz GLE at an outback road.

I really enjoy my time in this car with the new GLE’s hidden off-road talents.

Deserted industrial buildings in Leipzig.

However, I enjoyed the ride in the Mercedes-Benz GLE 350 d 4MATIC the most. For me, this SUV combines maximum efficiency and agility and boasts a discreet elegance on the road. The GLE Coupé, meanwhile, is my second favourite, and we take it to the next stop: Leipzig. The industrial area is absolutely beautiful there; recently it has been converted into artist studios, restaurants and even an open-air cinema.

The Mercedes-Benz Coupé in front of graffiti in Leipzig.

Poland – a place of many contrasts.

In Poland, the next stop, it is the architecture which fascinates me once again. Restaurants are not just simple buildings, they’re castles, pyramids or day clubs with waitresses wearing costumes. Having dinner at our destination in Poznan is my fantastic reward during our trip.

The Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupé in front of an empty house in Poland.

Next stop: Warsaw, the beautiful capital of Poland. Afterwards we’re heading to Riga.

A day at the beach in Riga.

In Riga the faces suddenly change and fewer people understand English. Additionally, we can no longer pay for petrol with euros. On this part of the journey I enjoy some time by myself, then after driving for an hour in sand, mud, rocks and between a whole lot of trees I arrive at a deserted beach. Initially I’m not entirely sure if I can make it down to the water with the Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupé. But I’m deeply thankful to the German engineers for including the all-round level control incorporated in the system that gives the car an additional 50 mm of ground clearance.

The Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupé in a whole lot of trees.

Off to Finland!

Next stop: Finland. After a while we are leaving the ferry which brought us safely from Tallinn to Finland. Crossing Finland is quite a visual experience with hundreds of lakes just waiting for you to jump in. The drive is very smooth and we mainly use the DISTRONIC PLUS feature of the GLE to automatically keep a safe distance from the car in front of us at our desired speed.

The Mercedes-Benz GLE in a puddle.

My other favourite feature is the DISTRONIC PLUS steering assist system which corrects your direction of travel when you drift out of lane. These many small hardworking aides help to maintain your concentration level and make the long days of driving less painful.

On the way to Finland and Norway.

I’m surprised to see that hot dogs are a Finnish delicacy on the road. And they are good! Most of the team love stopping at petrol stations to try them with hundreds of different topping combinations. Everyone is so incredibly smiley and kind to us that we decide to fill up the car again when the tank is still half-full just to get another dose of happiness.

The Mercedes-Benz GLE at a beautiful sunset in Norway.

We spend one night in Alta where we witness one last time the unique golden sky of Norway. In the early morning mist we head off once more to our final destination: Cape North.

Our final destination: Cape North!

This 3-hour stretch is one of the most beautiful rides of my life. Every minute is a feast for the eyes. We reach Cape North under a heavy fog that turns our arrival into a lunar experience. Touching the tip of the world never felt so real. More than 5,000 km and 65 hours of consecutive driving make this moment even more intense. Like an eternal souvenir, I will always remember my trip in the Mercedes-Benz GLE – a vehicle which, despite my best efforts to get it dirty, ultimately far outclassed my dynamic off-road skills with its elegance. Further impressions from my road trip can be found on my blog.

When the weather is bad too: in the Mercedes-Benz SUVs you’ll be always safe.


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