The Mercedes-Benz GLE is a facelifted version of what has, up until now, been known as the ML, and forms the mid-range SUV offering from the Stuttgart-based manufacturer, with the gigantic GLS topping the range.
The naming convention change may seem strange, but it pulls the whole Mercedes SUV line-up into one easy to remember range - starting with the crossover-inspired GLA, the venerable G-Class and topped off by the GLS. For now we are focussing on the GLE, which is the first Mercedes-Benz SUV to be offered in two distinctive bodystyles - the SUV and Coupé - in other words it is direct competition for the BMW X5 and X6. The 250 d forms the entry point to the new luxury-class GLE line-up in the UK at £50,570 and is completed by the mental 5.5-litre V8 AMG powerhouse.
The US-built GLE has been given a number of mid-life upgrades aimed at seeing it retain its competitiveness in what, in recent years, has become a particularly tough market segment.
Included is a lightly restyled exterior, with re-profiled bumpers, a revised grille, redesigned headlamps, newly shaped exterior mirror housings, more expressively styled tail lamps and altered tail pipes among other detailed design tweaks.
Inside, there is a new dashboard with revised instruments, more contemporary controls, a new multi-function steering wheel, a free standing infotainment monitor and upgraded trims with high quality materials – all of which helps to lift its perceived quality on to a level at least equal to its key SUV rivals, the Audi Q7 and BMW X5. As for trims there are four to choose from with the entry-level Sport models limited to only the 201bhp 2.1-litre diesel unit. It also comes with 19in alloy wheels, parking sensors, reversing camera, adaptive LED headlights, heated front seats, climate control and Mercedes' Comand infotainment system complete with DAB radio and Bluetooth connectivity.
The mid-range AMG Line models is available with either diesel engine or as a hybrid, and adds 20in AMG alloys, adaptive air suspension, an AMG-styled bodykit, a sports braking system and ambient interior lighting, while the designo trim adds ventilated and massaging front seats, 360-degree camera, panoramic sunroof, electrically adjustable front seats and steering column, heated rear seats, climatised cupholders and a Harman & Kardon Logic 7 surround sound system.
There are also two AMG models - GLE 43 and GLE 63 S. The former is available with the designo trim, but the standard SUV comes with numerous black exterior details, including alloy wheels, and AMG-tweaked all-wheel drive system, suspension and exhaust system. While the range-topping GLE 63 S gets an aggressive bodykit, high performance braking system, active body roll control, and an electric interior sunblind.