5dr SUV (2.1 diesel, 3.0 V6 diesel, 3.0 V6 petrol, 3.0 V6 petrol hybrid, 5.5 V8 petrol)
The old M-Class this GLE is based upon was for nearly two decades the world’s most popular luxury 4x4, with over 1.5 million examples sold as it paved a path that other plush SUVs like BMW’s X5 and Porsche’s Cayenne would quickly follow. Rivals like these offered buyers a more dynamic interpretation of what a vehicle of this kind could be, but Mercedes fought back with the lighter, more agile third generation M-class design launched in 2012, the car that formed the basis for this GLE model.
The change of name brought this car into line with other products in the Mercedes SUV range. In its era, it sat at the heart of the large section of this segment, just above the more compact Audi Q5 or BMW X3-sized Mercedes GLC model. And just below the Range Rover-sized Mercedes GLS. Only five seats were offered.
Back in 2015, the brand bridled at accusations that this was merely a lightly facelifted version of that old MK3 model M-Class - and with some justification. After all, as well as smarter looks, this GLE got a completely fresh 9-speed auto gearbox and a clever ‘DYNAMIC SELECT’ handling control system. Under the bonnet, all the engines were significantly more efficient and there was the option of clever Plug-in petrol/electric hybrid technology for the first time, plus much improved safety provision and impressive levels of media connectivity. There was even an additional and complete separate sporty ‘GLE Coupe’ bodystyle. Here though, we’re going to be concentrating on the standard GLE body shape which sold until early 2019, when it was replaced by a new generation model.
What You Get
This GLE is certainly a more purposeful-looking thing than its M-Class predecessor - and needed to be. If you’re not going to provide seven-seat practicality in a luxury SUV of this sort, then you need it to have dynamic looks and a menacing overtaking presence instead, something that in truth, previous M-Class models never really had. Fortunately though for Mercedes, this GLE looked a lot sharper..
First impressions are of a sportier, more dynamic car, both when first you see it from the front and when you take a seat behind the wheel. In place of the dull, conventional family-orientated layout of the old M-Class, you’re sat more purposefully in front of a sportier three-spoke leather-stitched wheel. Through it, you glimpse a pair of more deeply-cowled dials separated by the colour multi-information display that Mercedes uses on most of its other models. No, you don’t get the exquisite attention to detail you’d get in an S-Class, but specified correctly, it can feel very high end indeed. In the rear, you’ll find a cabin with ample head and legroom that’ll certainly feel luxurious enough for a couple of adults, even if they’re six-footers. Out back, one of the advantages this car holds over its BMW X5 arch-rival from this era is that it offers you 40-litres more boot space, the 690-litre total proving to be class-leading from this period.
What to Look For
The GLE’s air suspension system can suffer expensive problems. If you’re looking at a car with the system fitted, it pays to make sure it rides smoothly, with no untoward harshness over bumps, and that you can feel the ride comfort change when you’re on the move when you switch between Comfort and Sport modes. Also be wary of any suspension-related warning messages on the dashboard, such as ‘Please wait, car is rising’, which might come up when you start the car. These could point to leaks, which will take a bit of time to sort and could lead to a costly burnt-out compressor. Otherwise, you’ll want to check that all the electrics function, the sat-nav does its job properly and there are no concerning warning lights on the dashboard. Few cars will have been used off road, but check the underside just in case. And look out for the usual scratched alloy wheels and signs of back seat child abuse. Obviously insist on a fully stamped-up service history.
(approx based on a 2015 G350d - Ex Vat) An air filter is around £30-£40. An oil filter costs in the £7 to £8 bracket. Front brake pads sit in the £63 bracket for a set, while rear brake pads cost around £25-£69 for a set. Front brake discs are around £213. Rear brake discs can cost around £134. A thermostat is around £55. A timing chain kit is in the £120-£180 bracket. A wiper blade is in the £10-£19 bracket.
On the Road
On the road, you’ll find that Mercedes usefully embellished the package offered by the old third generation M-Class SUV this GLE is based upon. So mainstream models get a sophisticated nine-speed automatic gearbox. And across the range, there’s a new ‘DYNAMIC SELECT’ vehicle dynamics system so you can set the car up to suit the way you want to drive. As with the previous M-Class model, there’s a permanent ‘4MATIC’ 4WD system and most GLE variants got supple AIRMATIC suspension. This can be tweaked through the ‘Sport’, ‘Comfort’ and ‘Slippery’ settings of the ‘DYNAMIC SELECT’ package, a set-up that at the same time will alter steering feel, throttle response and gearshift timings. You’ll get more from these various modes if you get a car whose original owner paid the extra for the ‘ACTIVE CURVE’ roll stabilisation system that improves the ride and reduces body roll.
Under the bonnet, the mainstream diesel engines were carried over from that old M-Class model. There’s a four cylinder 2.1-litre 204bhp unit in a base GLE 250d variant frugal enough to return 49.5mpg on the combined cycle and 155g/km of CO2. Alternatively, the GLE 350d derivative offers 258bhp from its 3.0-litre diesel V6. There’s a 3.0-litre petrol V6 on offer too. It develops 367bhp in the GLE 450 AMG, or alternatively, you can get it mated to an electric motor in a clever GLE 500e plug-in hybrid variant that puts out a combined 442bhp system output. At the top of the range, there’s a Mercedes-AMG 63S high performance V8 petrol model with 585bhp. That’s not a car you’d want to take off road but a mainstream diesel GLE variant should actually be quite happy on the mud, especially if you get a car whose original owner specified the optional ‘Off-Road package’ that provides a low range gearbox, a centre differential lock, an extra Off-road +’ mode and various extra ride height settings.