Mercedes GLE (2015-2019) review - Engines, performance and drive

Big, heavy GLE is a comfortable cruiser, while AMG models are rapid

All GLE’s feature Mercedes’ Drive Select system, which allows the driver to adjust the weight of the steering and the throttle response, with Slippery, Comfort and Sport modes to choose from. On the 350d and above, the GLE also comes with Merc’s Airmatic air suspension with adaptive dampers, so the Drive Select dial will also change the firmness of the chassis depending on how you want to drive. However, even in the most comfortable setting, the ride can still be fidgety especially on AMG Line models.

Permanent four-wheel drive is also standard across the range – even on the 500e, so you can go off-road in zero emissions mode. 

With an off-road pack that adds a locking centre differential and an extra ride height setting for the air suspension, the GLE is capable away from the tarmac, but it’ll likely spend most of its time on it. 

The car rides well on the road in Comfort, although larger bumps do ruffle the chassis and it takes a while to settle back down and the body does sway around a little. Switch into Sport mode and the car is noticeably firmer – this controls the GLE’s sizeable bulk better, but it does hurt ride quality. The weightier steering means the car feels reassuring on the road, but there’s still very little feedback through the wheel. It’s no sports car, so it’s best to leave the GLE in Comfort and cruise. 

Engines

The 2.1-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel in the GLE 250d puts out 201bhp, but more significantly 500Nm of torque at just 1,600rpm. This means the performance it serves up is acceptable, with the 0-62mph sprint taking 8.6 seconds. However, the 250d is grumbly at idle and sounds strained when you rev it. 

The 3.0-litre turbo V6 diesel in the GLE 350d is a much nicer unit, with a big step up in torque to 620NM produced at the same revs. Along with 254bhp, it means much more performance, with the 0-62mph time coming down to 7.1 seconds. Top speed stands at 140mph compared to 132mph for the 250d. 

Although it boasts incredible efficiency credentials, the GLE 500e hybrid is also surprisingly rapid thanks to the instantaneous torque developed by its electric motor. With a total of 346bhp and 650Nm of torque available, this big 2,465kg SUV is as fast as some sports cars, hitting 62mph from rest in 5.3 seconds and going on to 152mph. 

Impressively, it’ll run at motorway speeds on electric power alone, while its all-electric range is around 18 miles depending on how you drive. 

• Mercedes GLE vs Lexus RX

However, if you’re a real driving enthusiast and want the practicality of an SUV with the performance of a supercar, the AMG GLE 63 S perfectly fits the bill. The big V8 produces a lovely, deep rumble and will catapult the GLE from 0-62mph in 4.2 seconds, while its speed is electronically limited to 155mph.

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