Car review – Mercedes-Benz GLE 350 de

All wishes fulfilled

Mercedes is the only carmaker to offer diesel plug-ins in addition to petrol plug-in hybrids. If anything, this GLE 350 de is the ideal candidate for executive-level long-distance business travellers.

 

Mechanics

The GLE 350 de mates a 194-hp two-litre four-cylinder engine to a 136-hp electric motor. Combined, this group produces 320hp and 700Nm: enough to give you decent performance, with a sprint to 100km/h in 6.8 seconds (and a top speed of 210km/h). However, that does not make it a sporty car.

In electrical driving mode, you only hear the tyres and the wind, but the diesel engine cannot hide its presence when it jumps in to assist the electric motor, climbing the revs. At steady speeds, however, it is pleasantly quiet. When equipped with the optional Airmatic air suspension, the GLE is even more comfortable, with a chassis that adapts to the speed, the surface and the load. Nevertheless, the myriad driver assistance systems are intrusive and start to get on your nerves after some time.

 

Big bloke

The GLE 350 weighs 2,555kg when empty. Although Mercedes has managed to make it an efficient SUV, you can feel that weight in the corners. When you take your foot off the accelerator, you feel the car braking slightly thanks to the regenerating effect of the electric motor which feeds the battery.

Families will appreciate the spacious interior, especially in the rear. The boot is still generous enough, offering 490 litres, although that is 140 litres less than the non-hybrid versions. If you fold down the three-part rear seat, you have 1,915 litres of cargo space.

 

Real plug-in hybrid

The hefty price tag and the endless options list may be a deterrent, but if you take into account all financial and usage benefits, including consumption and taxes, the TCO is not so bad. The GLE 350 de is fiscally so appealing because the tax authorities consider it to be a “real” plug-in hybrid, thanks to its very low CO2 emissions and the large battery.

Charging the large 31.2-kWh battery takes a very long time from a normal socket, which is not recommended. With a 7.2-kW wallbox, however, it can be done in five hours. Interestingly, the GLE 350 de can optionally fast charge at 50kW, meaning an hour is enough to drive fully emission-free again.

Up to 80 electric kilometres

Thanks to the large battery, this GLE achieves a real electric driving range of about 80 kilometres. That is a lot for a plug-in, making it perfectly usable as an electric car for daily trips. In that case, the pure electrical consumption is around 25kWh/100km.

Charging the batteries regularly on a 240-kilometre motorway route starting with an empty battery, we arrived at an average diesel consumption of 4.9L/100km and an average electricity consumption of 9.7kWh/100km. Excellent values proving that a plug-in hybrid diesel, when properly charged, is a viable choice.

With the GLE, too, the combination of a diesel engine and an electric drive train proves to be a perfect match for those who drive long-distance and dip into town regularly. It scores high with its interior space, technology, economy and favourable taxation, which somewhat compensate for its high price.

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      + Electric driving range

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      + Very low consumption is possible

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      + Interior space, also in the back

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      - Price - Intrusive driver assistance systems - Numerous and expensive options