The Mercedes-Benz GLE replaced the older ML 4x4, and with updated looks to bring the large SUV into line with the rest of the brand’s range, there’s more technology and style on offer.
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The new Mercedes GLE is actually a heavily revised version of the old M-Class – a car that battled for supremacy with other premium SUVs such as the Land Rover Discovery, BMW X5 and Audi Q7. Mercedes also offers the GLE Coupe, designed to rival the BMW X6.
One of the biggest changes heralded by the GLE is the introduction of new engines, the most important being the diesel 250d – expected to be the most popular model in the UK. It can return fuel economy of 57.6mpg (up from the old model’s 45.6mpg). CO2 emissions of 155g/km mean this big SUV only costs £180 per year to tax.
Another new face is the 500e 4MATIC. The ‘e’ means this is a hybrid model, with a 3.0-litre V6 petrol boosted by an electric motor to produce a healthy 436hp. Despite its plentiful horsepower, Mercedes says the 500e can return 85.6mpg and emit just 84g/km of CO2 – making the large SUV free to tax.
Also available are a 3.0-litre turbodiesel and the flagship AMG 63 S petrol that fires the Mercedes from 0-62mph in just 4.2 seconds.
New headlights and a lower front bumper with gaping air ducts give the GLE a look in keeping with new Mercedes models such as the S-Class and C-Class. Having said that, some of the angular lines on down the side give away that this is not an all-new model.
More radical changes have been made inside, where the company’s now trademark tablet display means the dashboard is now less cluttered and Mercedes has also improved the quality of plastics.
Standard equipment includes a switchable driving mode system, a reversing camera, power tailgate, LED headlights, heated seats, keyless go, climate control, sat-nav, Bluetooth and DAB radio..
All GLEs also get safety kit such as stability control system with additional protection from crosswinds and an autonomous braking system, which helps rein in insurance premiums. Lane keep assist and active cruise control are on the options list.
Considering the GLE is a heavily facelifted version of the old M-Class, there are some similarities between the new and old cars’ interiors – particularly in the centre of the dashboard.
Nevertheless, the new model comes with an infotainment screen that’s bigger and clearer than the one fitted to the M-Class. It sprouts from the dashboard much like the screen in the new C-Class and gets sat-nav as standard. There’s still room for improvement, however, with one tester complaining that the combination of dial and touchpad controls makes the system confusing to use.
The plastics used feel of excellent quality, though, and it’s easy to get comfortable behind the wheel thanks to the wide range of adjustment for the driver’s seat. All models also come with leather as standard.
The GLE’s tall body means there’s plenty of room for six-foot passengers – with even more headroom than the already generously capacious GLE Coupe. Something that could put some people off the GLE is Mercedes’ decision not to offer seven-seats, which are standard in the Audi Q7 and the Volvo XC90.