Parkers overall rating: 4.1 out of 5 4.1
  • Excellent quality cabin
  • Easy to get comfortable behind the wheel
  • Infotainment system not as easy to use as Audi Q7’s

Dominated by two 12.3-inch screens, the cabin echoes the design first seen on the fourth generation A-Class Hatchback and will eventually be rolled out across most Mercedes-Benz models. 

All-round quality is excellent, with a robust, but premium feel to most of the switches and panels. Once behind the wheel, the driver’s eyes are immediately drawn to the widescreen digital dashboard display. With a number of different layouts, its highly customisable, yet does lack the ease-of-use seen on Audi’s Virtual Cockpit system.

Much of this is down to the control method – two small touchpads on the steering wheel (one for the digital dash, the other for the infotainment screen), can’t quite match the Q7’s physical buttons when scrolling through menus. Aside from this, the graphics on the both screens are crisp, clear and bang up-to-date, representing a considerable improvement over the previous GLE.

Complex MBUX infotainment system

Navigating your way through the MBUX infotainment system will take some getting used to thanks to the sheer amount of functions on offer, yet there are useful shortcuts to be had. The 'Hey Mercedes' voice command system works better than most, while the optional Interior Assist allows users to programme hand gesture shortcuts to favourite functions such as setting the sat-nav to home, or activating the massage seat.

The primary control method, however, is a centrally mounted touchpad (you can also use the touchscreen) that looks and feels premium, yet doesn’t have the same ease-of-use of the rotary dial seen on the old GLE. For example, you’ll find yourself glancing at the screen far more often than you would with a physical controller.

How comfortable is it?

  • Relaxed ride on air suspension
  • Excellent all-round refinement
  • Cossetting standard seats

The Mercedes-Benz GLE delivers a composed, cushioned ride – but it’s not without its caveats. So far we’ve only driven models fitted with the Airmatic air suspension, and while most engines come as standard with this setup, the 300 d (likely to be one of the biggest sellers in the UK) does not – neither is it available as an option.

How standard steel springs will cope with the UK’s imperfect road surfaces remains to be seen as we haven't driven one yet, however our choice of 350 d or 400 d come with the Airmatic suspension included and it makes for a largely relaxed ride. And despite the smallest wheels being 20 inches in size with a decent amount of tyre sidewall to take the impact, it can be a little fidgety - more so than an X5 with a similar suspension setup. Refinement levels are superb, transmitting very little road or wind noise into the cabin – the latter improved by the GLE’s lower drag coefficient (how aerodynamic it is) compared with its predecessor.

The only black mark occurs with the 300 d version’s gruff-sounding diesel at low to mid revs. It’s not overwhelming, but does sound coarser than you’d like in a near £60,000 car, especially at 3,000-3,500rpm. Settle into a cruise however, and it quietens down considerably.

Meanwhile, the 3.0-litre diesel 400 d does away with such issues, sounding smooth and refined right up until the last few knockings of each gear – territory you’ll rarely have to stray into thanks to 700Nm of torque. The 450 petrol version, is – predictably – near silent at a cruise, offering up a sporty burble from the exhaust when you demand more power.

Elevated driving position boasts plenty of adjustment

Regardless of how you tweak the electrically adjustable seats, you’re going to be sitting high-up with a commanding view of the road around you. It shouldn’t take too long to get comfortable, although the door mounted seat controls are a little fiddly to use for the unacquainted. The bonnet is high and long, but not overly so, while the windscreen and rear pillars are predictably chunky, so take care when checking your blindspots.

The seats in the GLE contribute to good comfort levels. They’re four way, fully adjustable, too, and although the controls positioned on the door could be more ergonomically friendly, it’s a minor complaint. Heated front seats are also standard on UK cars, but with the same seat design across most models, you don't get the extra seat options like you do on the X5, which we think are more luxurious and more comfortable than the GLE's. The Merc's chairs can feel a little flat with not as much support around your sides compared with the BMW.