Mercedes GLE, contact. The M-Class changes its name and gains technology

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Mercedes has renewed the M-Class, baptizing it as Mercedes GLE. You should not confuse it with the new Mercedes GLE Coupé, the latter refers to the rival of the BMW X6 that Mercedes-Benz has launched. We were also testing the Mercedes GLE Coupé, which stands out for its fresh, powerful looks and more dynamic handling.

The name change of the M-Class is due to the new model nomenclature established by Mercedes-Benz at the end of 2014. All SUVs would be identified by the initials “GL” followed by the letter of the equivalent saloon. In other words, the GLA would be the A-Class SUV, the C-Class GLC, the E-Class GLE … and so on.

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The Mercedes GLE “just” is, therefore, a restyling of the veteran best-seller Mercedes M-Class. An off-road vehicle, with true offroad capabilities, which now renews its aesthetics and its mechanics, 17% more efficient. Its price is exactly the same as that of the Mercedes ML it replaces. It starts at 60,125 euros for the most basic version, the GLE 250d 4MATIC, with a 204 hp four-cylinder diesel engine.

Model Power Displacement PVP
GLE 250d 4MATIC 204 hp 2,143 cm3 € 60,125
GLE 350d 4MATIC 258 hp 2,987 cm3 € 68,425
GLE 400 4MATIC 333 hp 2,996 cm3 € 72,975
GLE 500 e 4MATIC 333 + 116 hp 2,996 cm3 € 77,875
Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 4MATIC 557 hp 5,461 cm3 € 129,800
Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S 4MATIC 585 hp 5,461 cm3 € 141,100

Taking as reference the Mercedes GLE 350d, with 258 hp and € 68,425, this is a more expensive alternative than its rivals the Audi Q7 (65,920 for the 272 hp 3.0 TDI) or the BMW X5 (68,100 for the 258 hp X5 30d ); and cheaper than the Volkswagen Touareg (€ 68,890 for the 262 hp V6 TDI).

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The Mercedes GLE is more expensive than the Audi Q7 and BMW X5, but cheaper than the Volkswagen Touareg

The vehicle itself maintains the essence of the M-Class, with the inverted C-pillar, accompanied by the classic extension of the rear window to the sides, the most characteristic feature of the M-Class. It seems more like a slight restyling, since it only has subtle changes, such as the new wheels or the redesign of the pilots, which retain similar silhouettes and offer the possibility of adding LED lights with assistant highway.

Like the Mercedes GLE Coupé, its dashboard is inherited from the old ML and is not updated to the new design of the passenger compartment of the range, which we do find in the new C-Class and S-Class. The only change is the large infotainment screen, which stands out and increases in size to preside over the dashboard. The cabin also includes the new Mercedes touchpad that allows you to operate systems such as radio or navigation. They have located it where the gear shift knob should be located.

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The Mercedes GLE debuts new nine-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. You read that right: nine. As for engines, the big news is the GLE 500e, the hybrid-plug-in version, which has 442 hp. 333 of them come from the turbocharged six-cylinder gasoline engine and 116 hp from the electric motor. It costs € 77,875, just € 5,000 more than the 333 hp GLE 400 4MATIC. Efficient, silent and even sporty, since it is capable of accelerating from 0 to 100 km / h in 5.3 seconds, a very respectable figure for an SUV.

During our test in Austria, I was able to do a 50-kilometer ride aboard the Mercedes GLE 500e, who is distinguished by the blue painted brake calipers. And the truth is that it makes any journey a pleasure. Offers up to 32 kilometers of autonomy in electric mode, but we were able to stretch the battery charge to over 40 kilometers. Something possible on a secondary road, driving smoothly and avoiding unnecessary changes of pace.

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The Mercedes GLE debuts new nine-speed dual-clutch automatic gearboxes, as well as a hybrid-plug-in mechanics

It has four programs: one “hybrid”, the “e-mode” (which forces the use of the electric drive), “e-save” (to use the combustion engine and store the energy in the batteries for later use) or “E-charge” (which activates the combustion engine and allows the batteries to recharge).

The vehicle can be charged in a couple of hours via the wall charging station (Wallbox) offered by Mercedes-Benz. The plug is located next to the boot lid. It offers connectivity with the mobile, so that we can see through our Smartphone the state of the vehicle’s charge. In addition, with the new Mercedes application it is possible to activate the air conditioning systems, lower or raise the windows, open or close the doors and, of course, locate the location of the vehicle.

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During our first contact we were really surprised by the offroad aptitude of the Mercedes GLE on a test track located in an old quarry. He offroad kit is sold as part of the optional equipment, with a surcharge of 2,800 euros. It includes a reducer and central differential, which join the already included 4Matic all-wheel drive, standard on all models. In addition, it has height-adjustable pneumatic suspension and the possibility of equipping off-road tires.

The result is superb traction in low grip conditions, even in the most unlikely conditions and great angles of attack. Among the driving modes, there is a program that optimizes traction in areas of low grip such as snow, ice, mud or slippery surfaces.

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The only question we have is if perhaps Mercedes should have risked a little more with the GLE

On the route, the descent of a slope with a drop of 70% stood out, in the middle of which, the GLE raised a “little leg” and stayed in contact with the ground with only three tires. It was essential to use the adjustable hill descent control, which allowed to adjust the speed of descent of a slope. Certainly a very extreme test but one that turned out to be really easy to run on board the GLE.

Off-road maneuvers are made easier thanks to the front view cameras, which allow the distances to be controlled at all times when changing slopes with poor visibility. The same screen also offers information on the inclination of the vehicle and tips to cross the most difficult areas.

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It maintains the smooth ride for which it was already characterized, as well as its offroad skills, in a product where, a priori, it should stand out for its reliability. Overall, the new Mercedes GLE reflects the success of the M-Class. No big changes, no outstanding improvements, but with touches of technology, as well as more efficient and modern engines.

The only question we have is if maybe Mercedes should have risked a bit more with the GLE. While the GLE Coupé debuts a design with a Premium and imposing halo, the GLE “just” seems renegade to maintain essence of the past. Something that hurts, even more so considering that it starts with a price somewhat more expensive than the Audi Q7 or BMW X5.

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