A few months ago Fred got to spend time behind the wheel of the Mercedes-Benz GLE 300d. With little to dislike about it, Fred gave it top marks, 5 chevrons. Not long after, I was booked in to review the GLE 400d. I was keen to see if the 400d would rate as well and if the $10,000 difference is worth it?

The Range
The Mercedes-Benz GLE SUV comes with two shape variants. Your more typical SUV with a square rear end, and the Coupe – sloped or fastback model. They designate the difference by GLE SUV, and the sloped back is the GLC Coupe. For this review we will be looking at the GLE SUV.

The GLE SUV is available in New Zealand in two variants, the GLE 300d 4MATIC and the GLE 400d 4MATIC. Both models are turbo diesels with the 300d starting at $123,200 and the 400d starting at $139,000. There are no AMG models available for the GLE SUV, unlike the GLE Coupe.

The GLE SUV is available in 10 colors, with Polar White non-metallic as the standard colour. However, every other paint option comes with an additional cost. Obsidian Black Metallic, Iridium Silver Metallic, Mojave silver metallic, Cavansite Blue Metallic, Brilliant Blue Metallic, Emerald green metallic and Selenite Grey Metallic are all $2,100 extra. Designo Diamond White BRIGHT Metallic and designo Hyacinth Red Metallic are $3,200 extra. 

The standard equipment for the GLE range is impressive, both for standard options and extra packages. Standard features include 4MATIC permanent all-wheel drive, 9G-TRONIC transmission, adaptive highbeam assist plus, EASY-PACK tailgate, ECO start/stop function, KEYLESS-GO package including keyless start function & HANDS-FREE ACCESS, MULTIBEAM LED Headlights, windscreen wiper system with automatic rain sensoring wipers, ambient lighting with 64 colours, ARTICO upholstery – black, driver’s seat 4-way lumbar support, electrically operated park brake, head-up display with virtual image windscreen projection, heated front seats, multifunction sports steering wheel in nappa leather, THERMATIC climate control, touch pad, ISOFIX and child seat top-tether on 2nd row seats only, 12V socket in load area, Mercedes Me connect, digital radio, and lastly Apple CarPlay and Google Android Auto capability.

There are many bundles packages available for the GLE, including the following: -seat package, AMG sport package, AMG line, Night package, Vision Package, Comfort Package, Luxury Seat Package, ENERGIZING Package PLUS and Towbar Package

There’s a huge amount of different options to up-spec your GLE 400d, for the full list head over to the Mercedes-Benz New Zealand website, to check them all out. WEBSITE LINK

First Impressions
Fred got the 300d in black and I got the 400d in white. I was really glad that it didn’t come in black as I personally don’t think it’s a great colour for its shape. The design needs more contrasting colours, and I think white is just perfect. This 400d came with the optional Night Package, which removes all chrome trim, replacing it with gloss or matte black options, making it look fresh and modern. The aggressive front bumper completes the overall look, giving this GLE 400d a point of difference, making it something you want to drive. 

The Inside
I really feel Mercedes-Benz have stepped up the game with the new GLE. Once inside, it’s reminiscent of older models, but it’s all new, modern and luxurious. Greeted with my favourite black open-pore oak wood grain on the doors, dash and centre console. There are new grab handles on the centre console, quite big and chunky ones too. Like Fred I thought they were a bit off, but found them to be a perfect spot for your leg or hand to rest against, as well as being a grab handle. On every leather surface there is a lot of finely finished stitching, making the cabin feel very upmarket and handmade. 

The new central display and dash is beautiful. At last Mercedes-Benz has listened to our complaining about the afterthought display of older models. This is very stylishly incorporated into the dash with purpose. It’s not so easy to use with the new centre console touch pad, which was the only area littered with buttons in the cabin. Overall it had a nice clutter-free feel.

One thing I do like about a lot of the Mercedes-Benz SUV’s, they cabin noise level is always low. However this GLE 400d was very quiet, how they managed to make that new diesel engine barely noticeable I will never know. Whatever they did, it has resulted in a tranquil cabin space during daily use.

Rear legroom is amazing; I sat in behind my own driving position and there was at least 6 inches between my knees and the driver’s seat. There are not many vehicles that the rear seats feel as good or well equipped as the front. Both rear seats had a full range of electric seat controls on the doors. “Wow” I hear you say, well sort of. Wow if you don’t have kids, and the person who designed it does not have any. These buttons may as well have been made out of candy, my daughter was able to touch them with her feet from her front-facing child seat. Every time she was in the car was a drama, trying to find ways for her to leave the buttons alone. I could not find any way to disable them. I think this is a bit of an oversight in the design.

The boot is good at 630 litres, unless you have the third row up which brings it down to 170 litres. The only issue I had with the boot was the door itself. Actually I didn’t have the issue, it was a friend of mine; she is 175cm tall and when the boot hatch was open, she couldn’t reach the buttons to close it. Hopefully there are options somewhere deep in the menus to reduce the opening height. 

If you are interested to hear what Fred thought about the interior of the 300d, follow this link. 2019 Mercedes-Benz GLE300d – Car Review – black diamond.

The Drive
I had no idea what to expect when I picked up the GLE400d, only that Fred was disappointed he ‘only’ got to test the 300d. Who could blame him; the 243kW, 700Nm six-cylinder 400d does sound like an amazing engine. Just like the 300d, the 400d had one quiet diesel engine, several people thought it was petrol due to the lack of noise. This engine was amazing, it was so powerful and smooth, delivering power through the 9-speed gearbox with ease. Even though the 400d weighs over 2 tons, you wouldn’t think it from how little the engine had to work.

Daily driving the 400d was no chore, in fact it was something I looked forward to. When everything works well together, the engine, drivetrain, driver controls and seats, it feels just right. Where I thought a control should be, there it was, the seats where the right level of comfort for my size and shape, and the engine and gearbox both jumped into life whenever it was asked. 

I covered around 800km in the week I had the 400d. This was about 60/40 split of city and motorway driving. Several trips in and out of Wellington to collect some things, and a lot of driving our local neighbourhoods doing the daily daycare drop off, errands and daycare collections. No matter how long I spent inside, it never took its toll. Beside those rear door seat controls it was hard to find much that I did not like about this SUV.

When I took the 400d down some back roads to test its handling, I found it to be more inline with a car than an SUV. The suspension was stiff enough that it stopped the large body roll you normally get in an SUV. But it also travelled enough to tackle twists and turns at speed. Even though my Land Rover Discovery has about the same power, it’s very top heavy and a bit like a boat when compared to this GLE.

I have always loved the adaptive cruise control that Mercedes-Benz offer, one of the best. Now the GPS-tracking side of things has filtered down from the S Class to SUV’s. This means that as you approach a corner and are using adaptive cruise control, the car will slow down to ensure a safe speed as you drive around it. 

Fred and I both loved the new HUD, it was a great size, sharp and informative. We are seeing more and more information being moved from the dash over to these larger HUD displays. This is great, as it means you don’t have to look down at the dash as much and your eyes are always looking ahead.

I agreed with Fred around the placement of the suspension height adjustment controls, right there behind the touchpad’s wrist rest. For one, I cant see why you would be worried about adjusting the height of the suspension, as it’s not a hardcore offroader. I could see the point to having the adjustment or the placement of the button. Maybe it’s there so you can feel confident when climbing curbs.

Mercedes-Benz advertise the 400d should return 7.7 litres per 100km of diesel. With my week long mix of city and motorway driving, I didn’t get near that, ending up with a figure of 10.7L/100km. This was not bad overall, as it’s a big heavy vehicle, but it’s not far off the 10.9 that I get from my daily SUV, a 2015 Land Rover Discovery SDV6. 

Overall the 400d is hitting a lot of solid homeruns, which left me disappointed to drop it back. Once back into my Land Rover I must admit it felt a bit agricultural after the week in the 400d GLE.

If you are interested to hear what Fred thought about the drive in the 300d, follow this link. 2019 Mercedes-Benz GLE300d – Car Review – black diamond.

The Competition

The luxury diesel SUV range appears to be shrinking, even though they provide a better tow vehicle and are more fuel efficient than many petrol equivalent models. Diesels are also not as noisy as they used to be, some you can barely even notice the difference in sound from a petrol model.

Large SIze SUV – Diesel

Brand / ModelEnginePower kW/NmNumber of SeatsFuel L/100kmBoot Capacity LitresPrice Highest to Lowest
Lexus LX450D4.5-litre, twin-turbo, V8 diesel200/65059.5701$160,100
Audi Q7 50 TDI3.0-litre, 6-cylinder diesel-turbo
210/60056.5740$144,900
Mercedes-Benz GLE 400d3.0-litre, 6-cylinder diesel-turbo243/700 5/77.7630$139,900
Porsche Cayenne3.0-litre, V6 turbo petrol250/45059.2770$138,900
BMW X5 30d3.0-litre, 6-cylinder, twin-scroll turbo-diesel195/6205/77.0630$135,200
ProsCons
So much power and speed
Such great sound, so angry
Smooth and comfy ride
The engine is so quiet, forget it’s a diesel.
Good handling for an SUV
Easy to drive, even for its size
Quality, luxury interior
LED Headlight are amazing
Big boot
Top shelf sound system
Rear door seat controlsBoot push button close height (may be a issue for smaller people)

What do we think?

Fred gave the GLE 300d 5 chevron rating, how does the 400d stack up to it? Well it’s pretty much the same but it’s got a cherry on top. The big difference between the two models is the price of course, which is just under $12,000. What you get for this extra money is a no brainer decision. That engine is worth the difference alone, so smooth and powerful, you can barely even notice it’s a diesel. 

I really enjoyed driving the 400d around, I loved the new interior too. Everything was so effortless to live with, just like Fred, I didn’t want to give this one back. The price difference should be more between the two models, which makes the 400d a very serious option if you are looking at the new GLE range.

Rating – Chevron rating 5 out of 5

drivelife-car-review-chevrons-five

2019 Mercedes-Benz GLE 400 d 4Matic

Vehicle TypeAll-wheel drive luxury 5-door SUV
Starting Price$139,900
Price as Tested$162,500
Engine3.0-litre, 6-cylinder diesel-turbo
Power, Torque243kW/700Nm
Transmission9G-TRONIC automatic transmission
Spare WheelNone
Kerb Weight, Kg2265
Length x Width x Height, mm4924 x 1947 x 1797
Cargo Capacity, litres630 2055 (rear seats down)
Fuel tank capacity, litres66 
Fuel Economy, L/100kmAdvertised Spec – Combined – 7.7Real World Test – Combined – 10.7Low Usage: 0-6 / Medium Usage 6-12 / High Usage 12+
Towing CapacityKg, unbraked/braked750/3500
Turning circle, metres12.0Small: 6-10m / Medium 10-12m / Large 12m+
 Warranty3 years warranty
ANCAP Safety Ratings5 Star

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