This month we took loanership of the new GLE from Mercedes-Benz, our particular drive model being the entry-level 300 d.
This came sporting a few options, as is the Euro marque norm, one being the seven-seat package. This is a new option for the GLE, a pair of chairs added in the boot for when the need arises. And with kids to ferry about the place, that need is constant. It’s a $3900 extra, which also gives you electric adjustment for the middle row. It seems the only concession to the addition of the sixth and seventh seat is a move to runflat tyres, as there’s no space for a spare. The rearmost seats are manually deployed and fold flat into the floor when not needed.
But is the GLE something you’d call a genuine seven seater? We had the GLS on test at the same time which proved good for comparison purposes. The bigger Benz is almost a foot longer in length than the GLE, while its roofline is more akin to a van’s whereas the GLE is more rakish around the rear. So naturally the GLS offers more space in the back row, where a six footer can be seated in proper comfort.
There’s not a huge deal of knee room when you’re squashed in the back of the GLE, nor much headroom. But do you think the kids mind? Nah, they fit easily. So this is feasible as a seven-seater if the wee gremlins are around primary school age. As they start sprouting, it’ll be time to trade up for the GLS perhaps because kids always find novel ways to part you from your money.
While the powered second row of the GLE has a tilt and slide function for access, it’s quicker to drop the middle section of the 40/20/40 seat back and the kids can weasel their way back there. In five-seater mode, the power adjust lets you maximise legroom and tilt the seat back for a more relaxing journey. But the kids find it too difficult not to fiddle with those buttons, threatening to wear the system out, and we’re yet to find a lock out function for it.
There’s precious little boot space left over with seats six and seven in use, whereas the GLS has more. But it costs a whole wedge extra too, $34k more than the $132,700 base price of the GLE 300d.
Currently the only other GLE variant is the 400, powered by the same inline-six as the GLS. While the four is okay, fronting with 180kW and 500Nm, the bigger six is stronger and quieter. It delivers an impressive surge from right down low and is more refined in nature. The 300 needs a few more revs to deliver full pull, so works a bit harder as a result, and makes more of a clatter.
However, with an $11,900 premium asked for the GLE 400d, we think we can make do rather well with the 300; it really is enough. Fuel use is rated at 6.9L/100km, but has been hovering around the 9.9L/100km mark, plying its trade around town. With a retrip of the computer, an out of town journey saw the average fall to 7.2L/100km, while the stated combined figure is 6.9L/100km.
Still, it’s more efficient than the old GLE 350d long-termer we had a few years ago, which was often in the teens. Driving that old model, you were always aware of its substantial mass on the go, whereas this feels more athletic, almost lithe, despite it still tipping the scales at over 2300kg.
It rolls on 21-inch wheels as part of the AMG Sports Package, a $9900 option most buyers choose apparently, and it adds the AMG look to the styling and convenience bits to the interior. Steel springs provide the cushioning, but when travelling a bumpy road, you sure feel it. And they don’t soak up speed bumps like an SUV ought to. If you prefer a cosseting ride, look to the air spring option at $3400.
There is also another combination of packages which adds AMG bling, 22s and air springs for $8800, though misses out on a few interior upgrades. It’s these optional extras that give shoppers in this market space more freedom to choose the vehicle that really suits their needs and lifestyle ideally.
|Model||Mercedes-Benz GLE 300d||Price||$128,200|
|Engine||1950cc, IL4, TDI, 180kW/500Nm||Drivetrain||9-speed auto, all-wheel drive|
|Fuel Use||6.90L/100km||C02 Output||182g/km|