Best Motorbuys: November 15, 2019


By Ross Kiddie

Mercedes-Benz GLE 300d

When I'm picking up an evaluation

car at a dealership, the first

question I usually ask the sales

team is: “What is selling in the company’s


In the case of Mercedes-Benz, I was told the

GLE sport utility vehicle is the shaker and

mover, which is the car in this evaluation,

however, supply is problematic, such is its

popularity waiting lists are looming.

The GLE is all-new and lands here in two

standard variants, effectively four and sixcylinder,

both diesel. Interestingly, the 3-litre

six is an in-line unit, a departure from the

vee-series engines that Mercedes-Benz has

utilised for the last 10 years or so.

I’ve covered that transition in recent

Mercedes-Benz evaluations, and it has

little relevance to the 300d this evaluation

focuses on, its 2-litre engine is a traditional

in-line four which sits longitudinally under

the bonnet.

The GLE is a large five or seven-seat, fivedoor

wagon, it is almost 5m and weighs in

at over 2.2-tonne, consequently, there’s a lot

of vehicle and it offers all of the credentials

you would expect from something sizeable.

It is a true luxury car and it comes with a

high level of specification that justifies its

$128,200 sticker price.

It also gets a huge safety profile and that’s

no surprise, you don’t buy Mercedes-Benz

without investing in safety. There are way

too many features to mention but to say

any potential buyer won’t be disappointed,

especially if you take into account the very

extensive option lists. The test car was

heavily optioned, adding over $20k to the


One standard feature I do very much like is

the wide digital display panel which extends

across the facia, picture it as two i-Pads

joined together, it’s a touch-type system,

or you can use a mouse-like device on the

centre console to manipulate most of the

settings within the vehicle.

The GLE is also built around versatility,

apart from being a high comfort family

wagon, it will also take the belongings we

tend to travel with. The rear door exposes a

630-litre load space, extending to a massive

2055-litres with the rear rows folded.

At the other end, Mercedes-Benz claims

power outputs of 180kW with 500Nm

for the turbocharged diesel. While these

figures are impressive in themselves, take

into account the areas where they are

developed – 4200rpm for power and 1600-

2400rpm for torque. Even though there is a

fair hunk of metal to push, the engine is not

burdened, it works freely and is energetic

when asked to perform.

Drive is channelled through a nine-speed

automatic gearbox through to all four

wheels, both versions of the GLE get what

Mercedes-Benz label 4Matic.

Four-wheel-drive adds that element of

surety and control on the road, and in

the GLE 300d that can be felt constantly,

especially when the corners arrive. I pushed

the test car quickly into the tricky turns out

of the Waimakariri Gorge, yet it has steering

feel and ability way beyond its role as a big

luxury car.

Grip in the first instance is supplied by huge

sport specification Pirelli PZero tyres. On

22in wheels they direct positive feedback

to the driver, and along with the optional

air suspension package the GLE guarantees

absorption. One feature I found very

interesting is the camera-based technology

which reads the road ahead and preloads

the suspension if uneven surfaces are

detected, returning a balanced ride.

The GLE 300d also has a good turn of

speed, it will scamper to 100km/h in 7.2sec,

and will make a highway overtake in 4.6sec

(80-120km/h), using the paddle shifters to

Page 30

Price: Mercedes-Benz GLE 300d,


Dimensions: – Length, 4924mm;

width, 2157mm; height, 1772mm

Configuration: Four-cylinder,

four-wheel-drive, 1950cc, 180kW,

500Nm, nine-speed automatic.

Performance: 0-100km/h, 7.2sec

Fuel usage: 6.4l/100km

hasten engine urgency. It also provides the

performance edge without compromising

fuel usage.

There is a 6.4-litre per 100km (44mpg)

combined cycle manufacturer claim,

that along with a 5.7l/100km (49mpg)

instantaneous figure on the highway

(engine speed 1400rpm at 100km/h) means

relatively economical motoring.

The mechanical structure of the GLE 300

is all quality, the combination of power

and transmission is fluid and constantly

appropriate, it’s always in the right ratio

delivering decisive throttle response.

When it came time to take the evaluation

car out on the highway the weather was

against me, it was wet and freezing. On

my usual inland route snow was down to

low levels. However, these were perfect

conditions for the GLE, its driveline and

safety systems put you at ease and, of

course, had I ventured to high ground, it

would be the ideal vehicle to tackle the skifield

access road.

While the GLE is the car for the moment at

Mercedes-Benz, it must be kept in mind that

it is just one model in a very comprehensive

SUV line-up from this high-profile German

manufacturer. It’s good to have such choice.

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