The new Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupé on test for Changing Lanes!
The new Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupé on test for Changing Lanes!

Read Caroline’s Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupé review for a definitive verdict on the brand’s new diesel plug-in hybrid SUV.

What’s so special about the Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupé?

Mercedes-Benz adds a new diesel electric plug-in hybrid powertrain to the GLE Coupé. Spawned from the GLE large, premium SUV family that debuted an all-new generation vehicle in 2019, the Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupé offers a more stylish and exclusive design. It is the ultimate SUV-coupé, with a well appointed interior featuring Mercedes show-stopping quality and technology.

With hybrid continuing to grow in popularity across different market segments, now Mercedes-Benz drops a diesel hybrid into the GLE and GLE Coupé. Badged GLE 350 de, this model combines the long distance motorway economy of a diesel with zero emissions electric driving around town for a distance of up to 100 kilometres. Large SUVs have often had a poor image for environmental concerns but with plug-in hybrid technology, there is now a real viable option to charge the vehicle and drive on cleaner power and limit environmental impact, while still enjoying the convenience and economy of a diesel engine on longer runs.

Priced at €98,065, the GLE 350 de Coupé sits in truly premium territory but it’s a wonderfully made SUV. It oozes class and sophistication, while comfort is in a completely different arena too, even on the large 21″ wheels of the test car.

Currently accounting for around one third of Mercedes-Benz sales, SUVs are of increasing importance to the brand with a global customer base of over six million owners spread across an eight model range that includes GLA, GLB, GLC, GLC Coupé, GLE, GLE Coupé, GLS and G-Class.

The GLE Coupé is now available as a hybrid
The GLE Coupé is now available as a hybrid

Inside the GLE Coupé

The GLE Coupé is every inch the large luxury SUV but with a more exclusive design to the GLE, which has more traditional and boxy SUV lines.

Inside there is some trade-off in the practicality stakes – that sloped roofline will mean a bit less headroom for rear passengers – but this is still a large SUV by anyone’s standards. The rear footwells are large, while the middle passenger gets a relatively flat space for their feet too, along with their own ventilation controls.

The boot has a powered tailgate and opens to reveal a large boot of 510 litres that goes back a good deal but wouldn’t have same depth as the standard GLE for example. The diesel plug-in hybrid system also eats into the space somewhat compared to a standard diesel model by about 100 litres. But a special rear end design and a modified rear axle create space for the large battery housed beneath the floor of the boot. This attention to detail means there is a flat floor and no step in the luggage compartment, like the E-Class hybrids for example.

The interior of the GLE Coupé is an absolute marvel. You are happily ensconced in comfortable supportive sports seats with full leather and power control. Heated of course! There are two large 12.3″ screens that blend together perfectly with modern graphics and lots of functionality. The latest generation ‘Mercedes me’ and MBUX infotainment system responds to voice commands and is easy to use.

The interior of the new Mercedes GLE Coupe
The interior of the new Mercedes GLE Coupe

How does the diesel hybrid work in the GLE?

The diesel hybrid GLE 350 de uses a 2.0-litre diesel engine, 31.2 kWh lithium ion battery and 100 kW electric motor. Power is transmitted by the 9G-TRONIC automatic transmission. There’s a healthy 320 hp while there is 700 Nm of torque available giving 0 to 100 km/h acceleration in just 6.9 seconds. Impressive for a hulking machine like the GLE Coupé!

Despite its considerable size (over 2500kg in kerb weight), the GLE Coupé feels nothing short of swift and responsive to the throttle. It masks its weight reasonably well too, feeling agile and sure-footed in most situations. It’s a fabulous SUV to drive with precise and weighty steering, and super supple ride quality. It handles the road well, with a sporty edge to it. Whether cruising on the motorway or following a twisty road through the mountains, the GLE Coupé adapts to each with aplomb. Driver and passengers sit high up with a commanding view over the road.

The diesel plug in hybrid powertrain also happens to be very successful in the GLE. Handling and driving dynamics don’t feel impacted in any negative way. There’s no lumpiness to the transmission, just smoothness and thick syrupy power delivered with no fuss or wheel spin. Delicious! 4MATIC fully-variable all-wheel drive with torque on demand truly helps with that too.

The hybrid system helps eke out better fuel economy. Even without charging I managed a respectable 6.7 litres per 100 km. The GLE 350 de Coupé can also avail of DC fast charging, which is quite unusual for a plug-in hybrid. It will take about half an hour. The GLE Coupé has a towing capacity of up to 3500 kg also as a plug-in hybrid.

The GLE 350 de Coupé can also avail of DC fast charging
The GLE 350 de Coupé can also avail of DC fast charging

Did you like it?

More tightly tailored than the GLE, the GLE Coupé does offer a more stylish and exclusive design with a small compromise to space and practicality. This is a wonderful large SUV for those lucky enough to own one.

The GLE and GLE Coupé both have one of the best car interiors in the class. It’s a fine example of contemporary premium. The widescreen digital effect is just stunning, while there are so many gadgets and tools on board for a full on luxury liner experience.

There’s a fine balance between comfort and sportiness behind the wheel. The GLE 350 de Coupé is supremely quiet and smooth-running.

The diesel plug in hybrid does work well here in the GLE 350 de. Motor tax for this behemoth is just €140 thanks to the low emissions and it offers new levels of flexibility and less environmental impact around town for example. But the battery will need to be kept charged up and the SUV driven on electric power to reap these benefits.

Hard to find fault with this machine!

The Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupé is a high end SUV-coupé
The Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupé is a high end SUV-coupé

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Mercedes-Benz GLE 350de 4MATIC Coupé
Price:
€98,065
Engine: 2.0-litre diesel electric plug-in hybrid
Power:
320 hp
Torque: 700 Nm
0-100km/h: 
6.9 seconds
Top speed: 210 km/h
CO2 emissions:
23 g/km
Motor tax: 
€140 per year