30 October 2019

Mercedes-Benz GLE 2020 Car Review

This fourth-generation Mercedes GLE – the first-gen is better known as the M-class – launched back in July, with new engines, more cabin space and the option to add a third row of seats.

Image 1
Mercedes-Benz GLE 2020
Image 2
Mercedes-Benz GLE 2020
Image 3
Mercedes-Benz GLE 2020
Image 4
Mercedes-Benz GLE 2020
Image 5
Mercedes-Benz GLE 2020
Image 6
Mercedes-Benz GLE 2020
Image 7
Mercedes-Benz GLE 2020

Our test vehicle came with that option, allied to electric adjustment for row two, though as with most seven seaters the third row isn’t intended for full-time use, but more as a school run extra.

Geeks will enjoy the fact Mercedes now makes its me Connect app standard. We’re told you can start the car remotely to warm it up, track or geofence it, send an address to the satnav and even, in some countries, locate a parking space, among other functions. Test vehicles aren’t on site long enough to fully test how useful this stuff is in reality, but the added 70mm of rear legroom got used, as did the updated driver interface, with two side-by-side 12.3-inch digital screens creating a sleek, modern look and easy access to the plethora of functions and settings, also accessible via the ‘Hey Mercedes’ voice recognition system which is fabulous when it recognizes what you’re asking, but seemed stymied by a number of Maori street and place names along our usual test circuit.

As an aside, a head-up display is also standard, particularly useful to keep an eye on speed when you’re in a car designed for comfy cruising – it’s very easy to drift over the limit without an increase in engine, wind or engine noise to alert you.

Our tester got the ‘base’ 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo with a nine-speed auto – spend more if you prefer a three-litre in-line six and 200Nm extra. Our initial feeling was only those buyers who set a store by quoting numbers will feel short-changed power-wise, as this auto does a great job of showing the powerplant at its best during everyday driving. Those who really want to show off may note it’s working a bit if you’re demanding on the throttle, but for most, the extra character and grunt of the larger motor won’t be worth the $11,000 added to the price sticker. After all, though it grips and corners very well for what it is it’s hardly a sports car: there’s naturally body roll in tight corners and the comfort focus makes the driver feel a tad more remote than a harder-core – and simply harder – set up would.

If money’s no option, there’s still the AMG-enhanced version to come, or you could tick plenty of option boxes, starting with the Airmatic suspension ($3400) and E-Active body control, which among other clevernesses will scan the road ahead and prime the suspension to suit.

Mind you, the standard GLE hardly shortchanges you on features. Both versions come with such frivolities as ambient lighting with 64 colours, as well as useful bits like adaptive high beam headlights, Parktronic Park Assist, a powered tailgate, and a 360-degree surround camera which, combined with the park distance warnings, did a superb job of assisting us to safely get this behemoth in and out of the underground car park at AA headquarters. It’ll even park itself, which may come as a relief to some owners as yes, it really is big, though the design proportions do a great job of disguising it – it’s a whisker under five metres in length, and tips the scales at 2311kg.

But we’ve not finished with the features. There’s also active steering assist, lane sport assist, a crash prep system to prime the brakes and even puddle lamps which cast the Mercedes logo onto the road as you open the doors. All in all you really know you’re in a car that costs above 100k – in this case $128,000, as standard.

But wait, there’s more … Our test vehicle was fitted with a few options. The tyre pressure monitoring system ($850), seven-seat package – including electrically adjustable rear seats ($3900), an AMG Sports Package – including flared wheel arches, privacy glass, leather upholstery and 21-inch wheels in place of the standard 20 inches, a panoramic glass roof and wireless charging system ($9900), and the Luxury Seat Package – including climatised multi-contour front seats with seat heating plus ($3700). As an aside, these seats include several different massage settings – talk about easing away the cares of the day. Finally this example’s options round out with the Vision Package – the 590-watt Burmester Surround Sound System with 13 speakers ($1400) – to take the total to (gulp) $147,950. At least those who don’t need to carry extra kids don’t have to pay for the additional seats …

All of this makes the GLE as much a luxury car as an SUV, an alternative for E-class buyers as well as competition for the likes of BMW’s X5. Of course those well-heeled buyers with half an eye to the environment might wish to offset the impact of all this luxury by going fuel frugal – either waiting for the coming diesel hybrid GLE, or trading giving some size away to buy the likes of Jaguar’s electric I-Pace, already on sale here.

At a glance


Mercedes-Benz GLE 300d


1950cc four-cylinder turbo-diesel


$147,950 as tested ($128,200 standard)

ANCAP safety rating


Power and Torque

180kW at 4200rpm and 500Nm at 2400rpm


Nine-speed auto

Fuel economy


Towing capacity




Seating capacity

7 (as tested, 5 seats standard)

Luggage capacity/payload

630-2,005 litres

 Safety systems

  • 360-degree camera and parking assist
  • Active Blind Spot Assist
  • Active Lane Change Assist
  • Active Steer Assist
  • Auto high beam headlights
  • Auto emergency braking
  • Rain-sensing wipers
  • Voice control
Previous review
Next review
Audi e-tron 2019 Car Review
Read more
Suzuki Jimny 2019 Car Review
Read more