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2016 Mercedes-Benz GLE 350 d review

Mercedes' M-Class is no more - welcome to its new GLE. We take to UK roads in one for the first times to see if its new styling, interior quality and gearbox work better than before

Words ByRory White

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The GLE is Mercedes’ new big SUV, intended to replace the ML and better compete with rivals such as the BMW X5, Volvo XC90 and Porsche Cayenne. It’s more of an identity change than a completely new model, as beneath the new badge and fresh styling, the GLE is much the same mechanically as the outgoing M-Class.

Powertrains include the familiar 2.2-litre four cylinder and 3.0-litre V6 diesel we're driving here, as well as a turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 petrol and electric plug-in hybrid model. The 5.5-litre bi-turbo petrol AMG sports version still exists too. All have four-wheel drive and automatic gearboxes as standard, including a new nine-speed automatic on the two diesels and V6 petrol.

What's the 2016 Mercedes-Benz GLE 350 d like to drive?

What's the 2016 Mercedes-Benz GLE 350 d like inside?

The dash is dominated by the fixed, high-set colour screen, which features sat-nav as standard and is easy to read at a glance, if a bit confusing to use compared with BMW's class-leading iDrive, despite having a rotary dial, shortcut buttons and a touch-sensitive pad as a means of control.

Most of the materials feel appropriately plush, too, save for some creaking dash plastics and switchgear, while the broad seats are supportive and have plenty of movement via the standard electric adjustment. Some drivers may wish the seat dropped a little lower, however.

There’s loads of room to seat two six-footers in comfort in the back, and the 60/40 split seats also fold flat (after lifting the seat base up and forwards) to leave a smooth, long load bay right through from the boot. Although you’ll have to lift heavy items a bit higher to load them than you would in some rivals, the Merc’s boot is a good size and shape. There’s no seven-seat option, though.

Should I buy one?

What Car? says...

Rivals

BMW X5

Volvo XC90

Mercedes-Benz GLE 350 d AMG Line Engine size 3.0-litre diesel Price from Β£56,280 Power 255bhp Torque 457lb ft 0-62mph 7.1 seconds Top speed 99mph Fuel economy 140mpg CO2179g/km