The New 2nd Generation Mercedes GLE SUV
The new Mercedes-Benz GLE has received a welcome overhaul. The GLE was formerly known as the M-class(ML) and started its life way back in 1997. It has sold over two million worldwide, making it the best selling Mercedes-Benz SUV to date. If you were to include the M-class, this new GLE is, in fact, the 4th generation. In 2015 Mercedes changed the name to GLE, so this is now the 2nd Generation of that name.
The previous Mercedes-Benz GLE was a little dated and didn't appear to have its own identity within Mercedes' SUV range. It slotted in, in between the Mercedes GLC and the Mercedes GL.
The GLC was slightly smaller than the GLE but had the same amount of seats (5) and better interior and upgraded technology. The GL, on the other hand, was slightly larger and had more seats (7) again with a better interior and technical packages.
The new Mercedes-Benz GLE has been developed from the ground up and installed with the latest Mercedes technology. There are features on the new GLE that are not yet available on any other Mercedes in their range. It is now also available with seven seats, not just five. All of this now makes the Mercedes-Benz GLE a true competitor to rivals the likes of the Audi Q7, Volvo XC90 and the BMW X5.
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Power, Performance and Ride
Mercedes have selected a more economical engine line up for the new GLE without impacting on the overall performance. There is a mix of diesel and petrol engines to suit everyone, ranging from a 2-litre, four-cylinder diesel, to 3-litre six-cylinder petrol with the latest hybrid technology. There is also a breathtaking V8 monster if you like speed and excitement.
All GLE's come with Mercedes' 4matic system (all-wheel drive) and 9G-Tronic automatic transmission, featuring flappy paddles to allow the driver to make gear changes. Seven seats come as standard across the range apart from in the smaller diesel version ( 300D), which comes with five seats, with the option of changing to seven.
The entry-level 300d performs well and makes full use of the 242HP and 500Nm torque, generated from its 2-litre engine. It has enough acceleration achieving 0-62 in 7.2secs around the same as the equivalent Audi Q7. Mercedes claim that it will achieve around 46mpg, so good figures for such a big car.
There is also a 3-litre, six-cylinder diesel engine with two power outputs. The 350d generates 272HP, and the 400d produces 330HP. Of the diesel variations, the 350d offers the best all-round appeal, with good economy, more than sufficient power and a smooth and effortless ride. The 3-litre engine is more suited to such a big heavy vehicle; especially now it could have up to seven occupants.
The GLE 450 is the mainstream petrol engine for the GLE SUV. It is a turbocharged, 3-litre, six-cylinder engine boosted by a 48V electric power pump which Mercedes call 'EQ Boost'. The EQ Boost features a stop-start system which operates smoothly and unnoticeably. It stores energy to help efficiency when coasting, along with keeping emissions low. Mercedes claims it will achieve around 33MPG, which for such a powerful engine, not a bad return. The petrol engine is good and provides great performance and silky transition with the slick 9G Tronic automatic transmission.
The new GLE is fitted with air suspension as standard across the range, apart from in the entry-level 300d, which gets steel spring suspension. The air suspension or what Mercedes calls 'Airmatic' make the GLE extremely comfortable, and it glides over potholes with ease and little fuss. The GLE SUV is more comfortable than the Land Rover Discovery, but not a good as the Audi Q7, who arguably lead the way in comfort amongst luxury SUV's.
The Mercedes-Benz GLE handles well and has light steering, which makes manoeuvring more straightforward than you would expect from such a large vehicle. The GLE corners well, even at speed, but does not give the same confidence as the Audi Q7, and BMW X5 do, who are much more composed and planted.
Top Spec equipment, technology and options
The new Mercedes GLE comes in just one Trim in the UK. All are in AMG Line trim and come with a mountain of equipment as standard. There is heated front seats, a self-parking system, cruise control, front and rear parking sensors and a reversing camera, along with LED headlights, to name just a few.
The GLE keeps it's signature rectangular shaped air vents, which blend so well with the rest of the dashboard. There are two 12.3-inch screens, set side by side, to give the appearance of one long widescreen. It is the first Mercedes SUV to feature the MBUX (Mercedes-Benz User Experience) infotainment system. Some of the features included are sat-nav, voice command using 'Hey Mercedes' and Bluetooth. What's not included is Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring. To get this, you must purchase the Tech Package, which is very disappointing given it very often a standard feature across new cars on the market.
The MBUX and digital display systems can both be controlled using the touchscreen or by pressing and swiping the touchpads, fitted on the steering wheel or between the front seats. These work well, but the rotary controller found in BMW's works better.
If this still is not enough for you and you want more luxury gadgets and features, Mercedes have you covered. Mercedes have created various bundle packs to personalise your car, like the Premium Package or the Premium Plus Package. There is also an Off-Road Package if you're thinking of going off the tarmac and having an adventure.
The new Mercedes-Benz GLE has not yet been crash-tested by the experts at Euro NCAP, so no result to give. It should be expected to achieve the top 5-star rating though given its array of standard safety features including blindspot monitoring, Automatic emergency braking and lane-keeping assist.
The Mercedes-Benz GLE is close to becoming a complete car. It blends strong traits from its rivals together to form an impressive all-round family SUV. A new plug-in hybrid version will soon be available offering increased economy and could be its best-seller. The new GLE will undoubtedly have people talking and will no doubt keep itself as Mercedes' best selling SUV.