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REVIEW: Mercedes-Benz AMG GLE 43

2017-10-10 08:55

Melinda Ferguson

delicious torque The Mercedes has a premium feel and the technology is easy to use

TRAVEL

TORQUE

Mercedes-Benz AMG GLE 43

Price: R1 206 700

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Trying to write a new book can be challenging amid the din of email alerts, airports, car launches and incessant phone calls. My routine over the years has been to wake up at 4.30am to slip in an hour or two of writing before the kids wake up for the school run and the turbulent N1 in Cape Town must be navigated for meetings in the city.

So when an invitation to spend a few days in Bodhi Khaya, a meditation/getaway retreat in the spectacular Overberg region comes up, I greedily grasp it with all my writer’s digits. Just over two hours from Cape Town, we head out, sailing against traffic, past scowling commuters, in our Mercedes-Benz AMG GLE 43.

The luggage for our short stay drowns in the GLE’s cavernous boot, which can easily fit triple what we’ve packed, with 690 litres of storage space before the sumptuous leather seats go down.


The GLE, with its 3.0 litre V6 bi-turbo engine, is an absolute beast on straight roads, easily moving from 0-100km/h in under six seconds, supported with plenty of force by way of 270 kilowatts of power and 520Nm of delicious torque.

There’s no lag in the nine-speed gearbox, but it’s on steep, narrow mountain passes that you are aware that you’re navigating two tons of weight – agility is not its second nature.

What’s surprising, though, considering the GLE’s size, is its impressive fuel consumption – about nine litres/100km. It’s all luxury inside the cabin with a truly premium feel and easy hi-tech driver and safety tech.

Twenty kilometers out of Gansbaai, I’m thrilled to discover that there’s a gravel pass that leads to our destination. With recent rain, I get to experience how the big beast seamlessly adapts to off-road mode.

As we approach Bodhi Khaya, nestled in a mountainous valley, a cloak of silence and serenity is almost tangible. The setting is pastoral and timeless, with whitewashed cottages dotted across the landscape and a central welcoming farmhouse.

I’m especially drawn to the fruiting lemon trees and an enclosed permaculture garden, lush with organic veggies, which are used later for a delicious dhal dinner.

Meals can be prearranged and self-catering units are available.

We unpack our gear in the secluded Honey Suckle cottage, referred to as “the honeymoon” getaway, which oozes the scenic privacy that I’ve been aching for.

Before getting down to write, we take a long walk and imbibe the beauty of our surroundings. This area, famous for indigenous fynbos, boasts more than 9 000 species of plants, one of the richest biodiversity regions in the world. Amazingly, 69% of the species found here are completely unique to the Cape’s sixth floral kingdom.

Being a writer, I’m always fascinated by names. Around a firelit dinner later that evening, our host Georgina Hamilton explains that Bodhi Khaya combines ancient Sanskrit and Xhosa. Bodhi means “perfect sanity” or “awareness of the true nature of the universe”, while khaya means a sense of true belonging, the home of your ancestors and spiritual base.

Although many come to Bodhi Khaya to meditate, I came to write, so I’m thrilled to leave three days later with 5 000 words and an almost full tank of fuel.

. Ferguson was a guest at Bodhi Khaya. Click here for more information and rates.

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