The new Mercedes-Benz GLE pictured in the Blackstairs Mountains!
The new Mercedes-Benz GLE pictured in the Blackstairs Mountains!

Caroline drives the new Mercedes-Benz GLE!

Did you ever wonder what it might be like to drive a luxury five star hotel on wheels? The new Mercedes-Benz GLE comes close. From my lofty position behind the steering wheel, I take a glimpse into a five star world. The new GLE is a physically impressive car. It knocks around in the car park of large premium SUVs – think BMW X5, Volvo XC90, Land Rover Discovery, Jaguar F-PACE and Audi Q7. It drips with premium features all wrapped up in sumptuous leather. There’s every comfort feature you could wish for along with a smooth and breezy ride comfort that marks out the very best.

Pricing starts from €78,965 and though it might be a bit tasteless to talk too much about value at this side of the market, Mercedes-Benz Ireland has positioned the GLE with considerable clout, loading on the spec to make a serious case for the GLE over rivals. Of course, Mercedes Benz owners will already be converted to the comfort, refinement and aura of the three pointed star brand. Riding high in the GLE, now with the option of seven seats for the first time, the GLE is surprisingly charismatic.

Styling has been spruced up to make the car more attractive. The wheelbase is 80 mm longer and the new SUV has a more rounded and elegant presence, with distinctive LED headlights and rear lights. 18” alloys come as standard, while AMG Line models add AMG bodystyling and 20” alloys. However, it’s probably the interior of this car that really steals the show.

The interior of the new Mercedes-Benz GLE

Inside the new Mercedes-Benz GLE

First of all it’s huge inside, a proper large family SUV. The rear accommodation is excellent, generous in width and legroom. There is now the option of two seats in row 3 turning this into a seven seater. There is lots of electrical assistance to move the seats in row 2 forward and back with adjustable recline. The luggage capacity is up to 825 litres behind the rear seats, and up to 2,055 litres when the second seat row is folded down. A 72 mm increase in through-loading width allows bulky items to be stowed more easily.

Right, so up into the driver’s seat. Wow. The view is amazing with the new widescreen dashboard as standard with two 12.3 inch screens – one for the driver information display and the second for the infotainment. All the digital tech works seamlessly and is intuitive to use. It’s also super comfortable. The lofty high driving position is hard to beat.

The material quality is excellent throughout. Rectangular shaped air vents are a neat touch and there is a raised centre console between the driver and passenger with cupholders, storage and the controls for the MBUX infotainment system. Hey Mercedes!

The new GLE is available from €78,965
The new GLE is available from €78,965

What do I get for my money?

The range starts with the GLE 300d 4MATIC at €78,965. With an AMG Line exterior package, this model is available from €84,772. The AMG Line diesel is available from €85,332. The GLE 450 4MATIC petrol is available from €96,625.

Standard equipment on the GLE includes cruise control, 18” alloys, widescreen cockpit with two displays, dual zone climate control, MBUX multimedia system, Mercedes me connect, parking package with rear camera, Dynamic Select, leather upholstery, blind spot assist, attention assist, lane keeping assist and traffic sign assist.

The AMG Line exterior pack adds sport braking system, 20” alloys, diamond grille with chrome pins and AMG bodystyling.

AMG Line cars include interior equipment such as AMG floor mats in black velour, AMG sports pedals in brushed stainless steel with black rubber studs, ARTICO man-made leather/DINAMICA microfibre upholstery, Nappa leather dashboard, door panelling plus armrests in black ARTICO man-made leather, multifunction sports steering wheel in Nappa leather and sports seats for driver and front passenger.

The 7-seat package for €2,944 adds the two extra seats, 20” 5-spoke light-alloy wheels and electrically-adjustable rear seats.

Rear legroom in the new GLE
Rear legroom in the new GLE

Driving the new Mercedes-Benz GLE

4MATIC four wheel drive is standard on all models. In terms of engine, the big seller in Ireland will be the 300d with a 2.0-litre diesel putting out 245 hp. There is also a GLE 450 petrol powered by a six-cylinder engine with 48-volt mild hybrid technology. Motor tax ranges from €570 to €1200 for the GLE.

My test car was the GLE 300d and it performs well here with a 9-speed automatic gearbox. The engine is responsive and smooth, delivering its power with just enough urgency to feel brisk. The GLE is a big car but this engine does a fine job without making too much of a racket while it’s at it. Over a week of driving my average fuel consumption was 8.0l/100km.

The Mercedes-Benz GLE has a newly developed steel suspension, while there is also the option of a new AIRMATIC air suspension and E-ACTIVE BODY CONTROL for engine variants with six and more cylinders. Even on standard suspension, the Mercedes-Benz GLE is a good companion, and reasonably easy to manoeuvre for its size also with a myriad of parking aids to get you in and out of the car park safely! On the road the new GLE prioritises comfort and refinement. It does feel large on the road and it’s certainly not the sportiest of SUVs, but it’s a pleasure to drive and will move passengers around in comfort and luxury.

And the verdict?

The new generation of the Mercedes-Benz GLE ups its game in terms of styling, interior finish, technology and connectivity, bringing modern Mercedes-Benz features to the large family SUV class. The seven seat option is new for the GLE and makes the whole package even more competitive than before. Mercedes-Benz Ireland is offering a generously equipped GLE 300d and this engine is a great match for the car.

The interior is a true high point for the GLE – modern and contemporary yet easy to use and navigate. This is a fantastic large family SUV with plenty of space and comfort features. The GLE has no aspirations to be sporty, but for pure luxury comfort and refinement, it’s a top player in this market.

Highly desirable and utterly capable.

Caroline and the Mercedes-Benz GLE
Caroline and the Mercedes-Benz GLE

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Mercedes-Benz GLE 300d 4MATIC AMG Line
€85,332 (Range from €78,965)
Engine: 2.0-litre turbo diesel
Torque: 500Nm
7.2 seconds
Top speed: 225 km/h
Fuel economy (WLTP):
6.1 – 6.4 l/100km
CO2 emissions (WLTP): 
162 g/km
Motor tax: 
€570 per year