What is it?
The fourth-generation Mercedes-Benz GLE made quite the impression when we first tested it in the US last year.
You see, it seemed to offer all the features you’d expect from a large, posh SUV: a swanky, leather-upholstered interior; a smooth, punchy powertrain; a sublime ride and size-defying handling courtesy of its trick new E-Active air suspension system, and a range of clever new driver aids that are yet to appear on the S-Class. Combined, this saw the GLE 450 scoop four-and-a-half stars. That isn’t a bad innings by any measure.
Now, though, the GLE has touched down in Britain, and it’s the entry-level 300d variant that’s going under the microscope. This means there are a few crucial differences between this car and the one we drove across the pond in late 2018.
Chiefly, the high-tech, silky smooth EQ-boost 3.0-litre six-cylinder petrol engine has been swapped out for a much less sophisticated (at least on paper) four-cylinder diesel. It also means there’s no air suspension. Well, there shouldn’t be; for some reason our early production test model had Mercedes’ regular Airmatic suspension architecture added back in, despite the fact this won’t be an option for UK GLE 300d customers. Odd.
Anyway, back to that engine. It’s the 2.0-litre unit that features in practically any Mercedes model you’d care to mention, and under the bonnet of the GLE 300d it develops a respectable-enough 242bhp and 369lb ft of torque. A nine-speed automatic transmission deploys all this to all four wheels.