“More comfortable than ever before”. “Superior off-road character”. “Significantly more space in the interior”. “The best aerodynamics in the segment”. “Modern luxury”.
With statements like these anyone would think Mercedes is quite excited about the new GLE range. Although to be fair they probably do have a point.
The first premium SUV was the Mercedes M-Class back in 1997 and since then the numbers have just kept on rising. The popularity of the SUV is well established but the luxury end of the market is still the preserve of a few, mainly German, manufacturers. This latest version of the GLE is Mercedes’ claim to be the leader of that pack.
The Mercedes GLE sits in the range as the SUV equivalent of an E-Class so expect it to be refined, elegant, and well-equipped.
It’s designed to be imposing both on and off-road with a large octagonal grille, chrome plated underguard, and distinctive headlight design. The long wheelbase, large wheels (18-22 inches depending on the spec), and wide pillars offers a sense of stability and strength but it retains just enough saloon styling touches to not look big, heavy and slow.
The interior could easily have come from a particularly sporty saloon too. Mercedes has created a cockpit for the GLE that wraps around the driver for a sporty feel yet, thanks to the materials and finish, appears comfortable and soothing.
There’s a wide display screen that takes the instruments and the media display and combines them into a single unit that flows across the dashboard. A prominent centre console that completes the look as well as offering grab handles for off-road excursions.
The new GLE features more space in the back too. The longer wheelbase of the new versions has allowed Mercedes to significantly more room for legs and heads in the back seats. It also means the boot space is large enough to fit an optional third row to make the GLE a seven-seater.
As you would expect there’s no shortage of technology and driver aids either.
There’s the E-ACTIVE air suspension system that can control movements at each individual wheel to counter body roll and pitching; 4MATIC all-wheel drive is available on the new GLE alongside an off-road package with low and high range which should keep things moving across any terrain; and the latest MBUX multimedia system that can tell the difference between the driver and passenger and know exactly who is reaching for the touchscreen to turn on their heated seat.
The new Mercedes GLE is being launched with a single choice of engine, a six-cylinder petrol, with diesel and hybrid options to follow. The GLE 450 4MATIC offers 367bhp and 500Nm of torque for a fairly reasonable 34mpg combined. It won’t be one for the faint-hearted but the performance capability should more than make up for a few extra litres of fuel here and there. There’s also a clever EQ Boost system that uses a combined alternator/starter motor to recover energy from the engine that can be used to save fuel or generate a short, 22bhp boost in power. It’s all very clever, as well as being quite impressive.
Unfortunately we don’t yet know what price tag the new Mercedes GLE will carry. We do know it will be available from spring 2019 but Mercedes won’t be releasing UK pricing until later in the autumn. What we can say is that if you fancy the idea of driving a brand new GLE next year then leasing one is going to be the most cost effective way to do so.
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