What is it?
This is the latest model to join the second-generation Mercedes-Benz GLE line-up: the GLE 350de 4Matic. It’s also the latest in what the German car maker says will be up to 20 plug-in hybrid models in its range by the end of 2020.
The new four-wheel-drive diesel-electric SUV boasts a class-leading electric-only range of up to 61.5 miles and CO2 emissions of just 29g/km on the WLTP test cycle – figures that promise to make it particularly attractive to company car buyers when UK sales get underway in October.
The extended electric-only range is achieved with a sizeable 31.2kWh lithium ion battery – the largest unit Mercedes has yet fitted to a production plug-in hybrid model. The move mirrors that of BMW, which fits a smaller (24kWh) battery to the X5 xDrive45e to give it an official electric-only range of 54.1 miles.
The driveline used by the GLE 350de is similar to that already used in the C300de and E300de.
At the heart of the SUV is a longitudinally mounted turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel engine developing 192bhp and 295lb ft of torque. This is supported by an electric motor – mounted within the standard nine-speed automatic gearbox – that produces up to 134bhp and 324lb ft.
Together, these two power sources provide a total system output of 315bhp and 516lb ft - some 11bhp shy of but level on torque with the turbocharged 3.0-litre six-cylinder diesel-powered GLE 400d. It's sufficient, says Mercedes, to propel the GLE 350de from 0-62mph in 6.8sec and up to an electronically limited top speed of 131mph.
By comparison, the turbocharged 3.0-litre in-line six-cylinder petrol engine and electric motor of the X5 xDrive45e produce a combined 389bhp and 442lb ft.
The GLE 350de’s new 31.2kWh battery provides an official electric range of between 55.9 and 61.5miles on the WLTP cycle, correlating to theoretical combined consumption of 256.8mpg and combined CO2 emissions of 29g/km In pure electric mode, the SUV can reach up to 100mph.
The large battery has compromised boot capacity to the tune of 140 litres. With the standard fixed rear seats in place, regular combustion-engined GLE variants have 630 litres of cargo space, while the GLE 350de makes do with 490 litres. Meanwhile, rear-seats-down capacity drops from 2055 litres to 1915 litres.