In-depth reviews

Mercedes GLE hybrid review

The large and luxurious GLE 350 de tops the Mercedes plug-in hybrid SUV line-up, offering a superb electric range and decent fuel economy once the battery has been depleted

Mercedes GLE hybrid
Overall rating

4.0 out of 5

Price
£60,565 - £67,565
Fuel Type:
Hybrid Diesel

Pros

  • Spacious and luxurious
  • Rock-bottom company car tax
  • Very long potential electric range

Cons

  • Five seats only
  • Pretty expensive
  • Feels large on UK roads
Car typeElectric rangeFuel economyCO2 emissions
Plug-in hybrid66 miles313-404mpg19-23g/km

While most car manufacturers have forged a successful path with petrol-electric plug-in hybrids, Mercedes is mixing things up – and the GLE is proof of that. The ‘de’ badge on the bootlid signifies this as a diesel-electric plug-in hybrid, using the same powertrain seen in the E-Class saloon and estate.

Boasting an impressive 66-mile electric driving range, the Mercedes GLE 350 de has one of the longest zero-emission ranges of any hybrid car on sale. The benefit of it being diesel means that even when the battery runs flat, you’ll still return around 40mpg fuel economy – comfortably more than the petrol-electric BMW X5 xDrive45e, Audi Q7 TFSI e and Volvo XC90 Recharge can manage.

When combined with official CO2 emissions of 19 to 23g/km, that electric range figure gets the car into the 6% Benefit-in-Kind (BiK) band for company-car tax, which is impressively low for such a large, heavy, powerful and luxurious SUV. The high purchase price does mean you need to pay a higher rate of road tax (£465 a year) the first five times you renew it, despite the GLE hybrid's 'alternative fuel' status in the eyes of the government.

You can't have failed to notice the staggering official fuel-economy figure at the top of this page, either. It seems scarcely believable, and in truth you'll probably struggle to match it in everyday driving. As with any plug-in hybrid, starting every journey with a full battery and driving with a light right foot will pay dividends in this respect.

Despite its generous dimensions, the GLE doesn’t feel as cumbersome as the BMW X5 or Audi Q7 to drive, although it’s certainly not as nimble as the BMW. The Mercedes prioritises comfort – and to good effect; it's softly sprung around town while also displaying excellent manners at higher speeds.

The GLE can feel a little eager and jumpy when running on electricity due to the instant shove available from the electric motor, but you soon learn to modulate the accelerator for smoother standing starts. Using the hybrid system is no hardship either, with the diesel engine bleeding in without interruption as and when it’s needed. Unlike some rivals, the Mercedes seems keen to revert to electric power whenever possible, too.

As is the case with the BMW X5 hybrid, Mercedes only offers the GLE 350 de with five seats, instead of the seven available elsewhere in the range. Still, those five seats are huge and offer plenty of space for adults to get comfortable, so the hybrid will probably still do the job for many family buyers.

The boot is big, but has a slightly lower total capacity than the conventional GLE's (490 versus 630 litres with all seats in place) and there’s nowhere to store the charging cables when they're not in use. Elsewhere, you get an all-but-identical interior to that of other GLEs, with a beautiful twin-screen dashboard and extensive on-board technology.

Most Popular

Best plug-in hybrid cars 2021
Skoda Superb iV
Best cars

Best plug-in hybrid cars 2021

The best plug-in hybrid cars offer great fuel economy and very low running costs as long as you keep their batteries charged
17 Feb 2021
New Volvo C40 Recharge expands pure-electric range
Volvo C40
Volvo C40

New Volvo C40 Recharge expands pure-electric range

Coupe-SUV model to join XC40 P8 Recharge in Swedish brand's zero-emissions line-up
2 Mar 2021
Volkswagen Tiguan hybrid review
VW Tiguan hybrid
Volkswagen Tiguan

Volkswagen Tiguan hybrid review

The plug-in hybrid VW Tiguan is comfortable, relaxing and good to drive – but no official efficiency figures are available yet
22 Feb 2021

More on GLE

New Mercedes GLE plug-in hybrid: price, specs and pictures
Mercedes GLE 350 de hybrid
Mercedes-Benz GLE

New Mercedes GLE plug-in hybrid: price, specs and pictures

Diesel plug-in hybrid version of Mercedes GLE SUV has 62-mile electric range and costs from £61,360
28 Sep 2020