In-depth reviews

Mercedes GLE hybrid review

The Mercedes GLE 350 de is a diesel-electric plug-in hybrid, adding low company-car tax costs to the large SUV’s spread of talents

Mercedes GLE hybrid
Overall rating

4.0 out of 5

Price
£66,465 - £74,265
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

Depending on how and where you drive, a plug-in hybrid's maximum electric range isn't always the most important figure – overall efficiency with and without the combustion engine in play can have more of an influence on real-world running costs. It's impressive, nonetheless, that this Mercedes GLE 350 de can potentially travel for 66 miles on electric power – one of the longest zero-emissions ranges of any hybrid.

Combined with ultra-low CO2 emissions of around 20g/km, this also means that the GLE plug-in hybrid has a very low company-car tax rate. In contrast to most brands, Mercedes offers both petrol and diesel engines in its hybrids, and in the case of the GLE, there’s actually no petrol option – the ‘de’ badge on the back signifies this as a diesel-electric plug-in hybrid, using the same powertrain found in the E-Class saloon and estate.

The result is that even when the battery runs flat, you should still see around 40mpg fuel economy – more than the petrol-electric BMW X5 xDrive45e, Audi Q7 TFSI e or Volvo XC90 Recharge can manage and impressive for such a large, heavy, powerful and luxurious SUV.

The GLE's purchase price means it’s far from affordable for most private buyers, and because of that high price you need to pay a higher rate of VED (road tax) the first five times you tax it. Yet if you were already considering a large SUV as a company car, this hybrid makes a lot 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 if you drive 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 having 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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