Home / Reviews / First Drive / 2019 Mercedes-Benz GLE First Drive Review


The new Mercedes-Benz GLE has grown in size and, for the first time, gets seven seats, comes loaded with innovative features and offers three interesting engine options. The important news for Indian buyers is that it will be coming to India in 2019 when it will compete with the Audi Q7, BMW X5, and Volvo XC90, so expect it to be priced upwards of Rs 80 lakh.

  • 2019 Mercedes-Benz GLE first drive in San Antonio


The new GLE is much larger than before. It has now grown in length by 105 millimetres and is wider by 12 mm, but you won’t be able to spot the difference by looking at it as the clever design and 24-mm lower height beautifully camouflage the actual size of this SUV. Despite being full of equipment, it doesn’t weigh more than the outgoing model, courtesy the extra dose of aluminium and high-strength steel.

I like the way it looks head-on, especially in the version which has the pinhead-type front grille treatment and a single slat holding a large tristar badge. The prominent lines on the bonnet add to the aggression and the sleek headlamps with arrow-shaped daytime running lights (DRL) complete the sporty front design.

The side profile follows the ML design language. Though the C-pillar’s execution is a lot better now, the large rear three-quarter glass gives it a distinct appeal. The wheel choices range between 20 and 22 inches and the larger ones fill up the arches really well. A set of narrow tail-lamps and contoured boot-lid complete the comparatively plain looking rear half of the new GLE.

What will wow you, though, is the completely new cabin. It’s a refreshingly new approach and looks ready for the future. Interestingly, the layout isn’t quite biased towards the driver; there’s no hood protruding over the driver’s information display and two pairs of a-c vents are lined up in the centre of the dash. Overall, it exudes and retains the Mercedes-Benz design language, albeit with a slight modern twist. For example, the gear selector is still mounted on the steering console, but the turn indicator stalk is slimmer and looks smarter now. Similarly, the seat adjustment buttons continue to be on the door-panel but carry a sharper design. The dashboard gets customized ambient lights, while the centre console gets neatly integrated grab-handles. Everything in the cabin feels premium and beautifully crafted, as expected in this segment.

The star of the cabin is Mercedes’ swish new MBUX infotainment set-up, consisting of two 12.3-in displays side-by-side. One serves as the instrument cluster, while the other is a touchscreen infotainment system. The driver can completely customize the instruments using a pair of steering-mounted touch-pads. The clever MBUX system understands hand gesture and can run a host of errands for the driver or the co-passenger without either of them having to press any buttons. There’s voice command, too, which gets activated when you say ‘Hey Mercedes’ and works pretty much like Google’s smart assistant or Apple’s Siri. It can answer your queries and set up the GLE as per your command. The system still needs some more fine-tuning; sometimes it refuses to respond and, at times, even stumbles to decipher simple commands. So, one ends up using the touchscreen instead, where the menus are simple to follow and the augmented reality-equipped sat-nav is simply brilliant.

The navigation system also uses the video with hovering arrows that point out the turn that you need to take. On American tarmac, the navigation faltered a couple of times, probably because these were Europe-spec cars imported into the US for this particular test drive. The system also comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard but require users to plug in their phones only via tiny C-type USB ports that the new phone models are migrating to. Better invest in a new charging cable along with the GLE.

A bigger car translates into a generous cabin room. The first two rows are large with ample legroom. The optional third-row seat is rather cramped, although you can free up some space by sliding the second row ahead. The front seats are not just comfortable but come with a host of interesting features. Apart from helping you find the perfect driving position, they are equipped with “Energizing Seat Kinetics”, a system which discreetly alters the seat backrest and base cushioning at regular intervals so that you’re not seated in one position for too long.


About the author: Sarmad Kadiri



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