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Parkers overall rating: 3.5 out of 5 3.5
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PROS

  • Decent range of engines
  • Comfortable seats
  • Great off-road
  • Hybrid works well

CONS

  • Rivals better to drive
  • Cabin could be finished better
  • High hybrid load lip
  • Air suspension unsettles ride

Verdict

Picking up where the outgoing M-Class left off, the Mercedes-Benz GLE 4x4 will go up against luxury off-roaders including the BMW X5, Audi Q7, and Range Rover Sport.

In fact, this represents a facelift of the M-Class rather than a new car, but since Mercedes-Benz changed its naming strategy, we’re treating it as a new model. It’s also the first Mercedes SUV to offer a plug-in hybrid powertrain.

A cautious restyling of the old car’s recognizable looks include new front and rear lights as well as sculptured wings and tail pipes integrated into the rear diffuser. These tweaks make the GLE 15mm longer and 9mm wider than the M-Class. It drives much the same, and while it’s more comfortable than the Coupe version of the GLE, it still lags behind its rivals when it comes to on-road manners or enjoyment.

Choice of four engines

As well as conventional four- and six-cylinder diesel engines you can choose a powerful petrol V8 performance model or a plug-in hybrid.

Combining 436bhp with CO2 emissions of just 78g/km, the part-petrol part-electric GLE 500 e 4MATIC can be topped up at a charging station, or by using a wallbox charger or conventional power outlet in as little as two hours. It promises 85.6 mpg (on paper) and can be driven for 18.5 miles using electricity alone (again, in theory), at speeds of up to 80mph.

The two diesels on offer include the 201bhp four-cylinder GLE 250d which emits 140g/km of CO2 and promises 52.3 mpg, or the 254bhp V6 GLE 350 d 4MATIC. This has a claimed efficiency of 44.1 mpg and CO2 emissions of 169g/km. Both come with a nine-speed automatic transmission.

Topping the power bill is the Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S 4MATIC, which has a 577bhp, 5.5-litre twin-turbo V8 that hits 62mph in 4.2 seconds. We’ll be testing this model shortly so keep an eye out for the review.

Works off-road

As well as four on-road driving modes (Individual, Comfort, Slippery and Sport) GLE drivers can select an Off Road program for wilderness driving.

If you choose the optional Off-Road Engineering package, then Off Road+ can be selected, which uses a reduction gear and inter-axle differential lock to generate grip in slippery situations.

The air suspension can be raised to provide a ground clearance of 285mm and a fording depth of 60mm. Reinforced underfloor panelling protects the underside of the car.

Off-road animations featuring slope angle, tilt angle, steering angle and heading are also displayed on the eight-inch screen. You can also use this screen to display camera views of what’s in front of the front wheels along with a bird’s eye view around the car; something that’s incredibly useful when driving off road when visibility is limited.

We’ve tried this car out on some very rugged terrain and can confirm it all performs very impressively indeed, with a huge amount of articulation possible between wheels and the capacity to scale seriously steep slopes with ease.

High spec with a focus on safety

All models come with Collision Prevention, Crosswind Assist, ECO stop-start and Dynamic Select controller.

You can choose to add a 360-degree or reversing camera, as well as an automatic tailgate, and soft or automatic closing doors.

To find out more about what this car is like to drive and live with, read on for the full Parkers Mercedes-Benz GLE review.

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