MERCEDES-BENZ GLE 400 D – Merc’s pioneering SUV back on top of the pile

Mercedes-Benz likes to call the GLE (nee ML) the pioneer of the street-oriented Sport Utility Vehicle. This fifth-generation comes in the choice of a 5-seat option with a cavernous boot or a real seven-seat version thanks to its longer wheelbase and a far more spacious cabin.

This turbodiesel straight-six GLE 400 d carries all the typical ML/GLE traits forward. That means latest Benz tech. And Starship Enterprise-like latest generation artificial intelligence MBUX infotainment spread out across the dash.

The Benz’s crisp, cavernous current cabin steals the show for sure. The best thing about it, is its latest steering controlled infotainment. A tiny touch pad on each stalks run everything. The infotainment left and the right to look after what you control on the dash

Top of THE infotainment pile

Quite brilliant, actually. Keeps the Merc right on top the top of ithe infotainment pile in our opinion.

And then we get down to the nuts and bolts. The 243kW 700Nm Mercedes-Benz GLE400d 4Matic is also the quickest of the 3-litre turbodiesel über-SUV’s we’ve tested. Although not by much over the BMW X5. The Benz is stealing the dynamic high ground too.

Ten years ago X5 was mighty. Both as an SUV and as a driving tool. So much so that it made a mockery of the rest of its early, flabby and feelingless SUV rivals. It earned that self-acclaimed Sport Activity Vehicle tag. Roll a couple of generations and I’m afraid it’s all change…

Mercedes has gained ground over the years and this GLE 400 d proves that conclusively. It has a, it has regal feel about it on the road. The command driving position, peerless infotainment and a wafting, elegant motoring experience comes with proper performance and impressive dynamics too.

It is expensive and it is heavier on fuel than some rivals, although there is a cheaper and more frugal option. But overall, if you’re looking for a premium SUV, this thing screams it. And it flies that three pointed star with great aplomb.

It’d be a big deal to call any car the King of the Road – that’s a risqué call to make. But if ever a more or less everyday car has had all the elements that you’d need to call it that, then this Mercedes-Benz GLE 400d pretty well fits the bill.

If nothing else, the pioneer has reasserted itself as the leader. And that’s good enough anyway… — Michele Lupini

ROAD TESTED: Mercedes-Benz GLE 400 d 
             4Matic AMG Line
Engine: 243kW 700Nm 2.9-litre Turbodiesel I6
Drive: 9-speed Automatic AWD
0-60km/h:       2.47 sec
0-100km/h:      6.16 sec
0-160km/h:      15.31 sec
400m time:      14.4 sec
400m speed:     156km/h
80-120km/h:     4.42 sec
120-160km/h:    6.49 sec
VMax:           245km/h
Fuel:           7.5 l/100km
CO2:            199 g/km
Warranty        2 years unlimited
Service Plan:   5 years 100 000km
RATED:          8
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