In-depth reviews

Mercedes GLE hybrid review

The Mercedes GLE 350 de is a diesel-electric plug-in hybrid, bringing low company-car tax costs to the large SUV’s line-up

Mercedes GLE hybrid
Overall rating

4.0 out of 5

Price
£60,565 - £68,800
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 miles313-404mpg19-22g/km

Coming in at an impressive 66 miles, the Mercedes GLE 350 de has one of the longest zero-emissions ranges of any hybrid car on sale. This also means that the GLE plug-in hybrid benefits from very low company-car tax, but can also save any buyer a lot of money on fuel.

While most car manufacturers have stuck to petrol-electric plug-in hybrids, Mercedes is taking a different approach, offering both petrol and diesel engines in its hybrids. In the case of the GLE, there’s actually no petrol option like there is for smaller SUVs like the GLC – the ‘de’ badge on the back signifies this as a diesel-electric plug-in hybrid, using the same powertrain seen in the E-Class saloon and estate.

The benefit of it being diesel means that even when the battery runs flat, you should still see around 40mpg fuel economy – comfortably more than the petrol-electric BMW X5 xDrive45e, Audi Q7 TFSI e or Volvo XC90 Recharge can manage.

Official CO2 emissions of 19 to 23g/km are also good and, when combined with the very long electric range we mentioned above, get the car into the 7% Benefit-in-Kind (BiK) band for company-car tax during the 2021/22 financial year. That's impressively low for such a large, heavy, powerful and luxurious SUV. 

The GLE's purchase price does mean it’s far from affordable for most private buyers, and because of that high price you need to pay a higher rate of VED (£465 a year) the first five times you tax it. Yet if you were already considering a large SUV as a company car, this hybrid version makes a huge amount of sense.

The official fuel-economy figure of over 300mpg is scarcely believable, and in truth you'll struggle to match that in everyday driving – it's only really possible by driving on electric power for the vast majority of your time behind the wheel. As with any plug-in hybrid, starting every journey with a full battery and driving with a light right foot pays dividends.

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 blending 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 seats are huge and provide 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. For a more detailed look at the GLE hybrid, read on for the rest of our in-depth review...

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