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There is no escaping the fact that we in the UK love an SUV. And we love all sizes of SUVs; from the small superminis on stilts, to the biggest, most ostentatious luxury vehicles. That’s why the current Mercedes-Benz SUV line-up has everything from the GLA to the GLS, and everything in between.
The car you see here is the new Mercedes GLE which, although only the second car to carry this name, can actually trace its roots right back to the ML in 1997.
One key aspect of a premium SUV is a refined drive. The GLE uses Mercedes’ latest family of engines which means that there are some big, powerful units on offer. I tested the 400d which is a 3.0-litre, straight-six diesel boasting 330PS and 700Nm of torque.
Anybody who says that diesel engines are dead needs to take a drive in the GLE 400d to see how wrong they are. No four-cylinder alternative can offer this level of power and refinement: enough to propel the GLE from 0-62mph in 5.8 seconds, with a mellifluous howl of a soundtrack.
The exterior styling uses sleek curves to soften a large, bulky frame. Signature LED daytime running lights and a prominent grille make for an imposing front end.
The GLE’s cabin is a technological masterpiece
But that’s nothing compared to the interior. The GLE’s cabin is a technological masterpiece. It uses Mercedes’ latest-generation MBUX infotainment system, with two 12.3-inch displays stretching over half the dashboard. There’s even a 64-colour LED ambient lighting system, with animated colour-changing sequences.
But there is so much tech crammed into the GLE that mastering all the menus and functions takes time, and it can seem a daunting prospect at first.
Unlike the previous GLE, this new one can be specified with seven seats. But the third row doesn’t have the head or leg room to be suitable for adults and, with all seven seats in place, remaining boot space is limited.
If you don’t need the third row, then you have ample luggage space. And there is copious amounts of legroom for the middle row; even 6-foot-plus adults will be able to kick back and relax. And that’s easy to do on a long drive: selectable drive modes and air suspension means that ‘comfort’ mode is precisely that.
The on-the-road price for a GLE 400d AMG Line Premium Plus is £72,435. Big money, for sure. But then the GLE stands by big, powerful engines to give a premium driving experience. And it offers big specification with lots of gadgetry. It certainly makes a good case for itself.