Driving report: Mercedes GLE 400 e 4Matic: more power

At Mercedes, almost everything revolves around the electric strategy.

Driving report: Mercedes GLE 400 e 4Matic: more power

At Mercedes, almost everything revolves around the electric strategy. But it will be some time before the star is fully powered. Purebred Stromer like the EQE SUV embody the Mercedes future, but cars like the GLE have to make money in the here and now. And that's what the crossover does. Especially in the US. To keep it that way, the SUV has now received a facelift. Even if the facelift is rather thin, a lot has happened in the plug-in hybrid drive train. The battery (internal code PB340) has the same gross capacity of 31.2 kilowatt hours, 1.5 kWh more net capacity and thus around ten kilometers more range than before. So the Mercedes GLE 400 e now roams up to 109 kilometers (WLTP cycle).

The energy plus is achieved through optimized use of the storage. Even if the e-machine with 100 kW / 136 hp remains identical in terms of performance, the inverter migrates from the underbody into the transmission to the electric motor. If the comfort driving mode was still set as the standard when the SUV was launched before the facelift, the Mercedes GLE 400 e rolls away purely electrically. "We want to make the plug-in hybrid more electric," explains GLE development project manager Simon Fahrbach, referring to the fact that this changeover came about as a result of customer requests. So that the batteries are fully charged again as quickly as possible, the onboard charger now generates 11 kW instead of the previous 7.2 kW. If that's not fast enough, you can put 595 euros on the table and treat yourself to the 60 kW DC charger.

While the output of the electric motor remains the same at 100 kW / 136 hp, Mercedes has upped the ante with the combustion engine counterpart by 30 kW / 41 hp. While the previous M274 engine had 155 kW / 211 hp and a maximum torque of 350 Newton meters, the M254 four-cylinder creates 185 kW / 252 hp and 400 Nm. This results in a system output of 280 kW / 381 hp and a maximum torque of 600 Newton meters. The Mercedes GLE 400 e thus completes the standard sprint from zero to 100 km/h in 6.1 seconds and has a top speed of 210 km/h. Reads quite well.

But the Mercedes crossover isn't quite as impressive on the road. This is mainly due to the weight of 2,645 kilograms. As a reminder, we're not talking about a thoroughbred electric car with a 100kWh battery. The interaction between the electronic module, nine-speed automatic and combustion engine in the partial load range runs smoothly and calmly, as soon as you call up power quickly, the four-cylinder petrol engine howls and the speeds skyrocket. The sovereign punch is missing. That's the crux of the matter when you combine a four-cylinder with such a bunch of cars. A better boost strategy for the e-machine would help here to support the overburdened combustion engine. The steering is okay, but could be a touch more direct and give more feedback. There is still some room for improvement when it comes to the precise control of the brakes.

The slight rolling movements of the front end are hardly disturbing, especially since the chassis is well tuned and absorbs bumps with ease. In view of the impressive weight, this is no trivial task. Compliments to the engineers. What remains is the consumption. On the data sheet, Mercedes states 1.1 l/100 km, we drove on motorways, country roads and in cities without even getting close to the top speed and came up with 6.39 l/100 km. Absolutely fine! After all, we are talking about a 4.92 meter long SUV, but due to the battery packs it has to do without the third row of seats, which is very popular in the USA because the famous soccer mums drive the rattle band to training. After all, the trunk has a basic volume of 490 liters, which increases to 1,915 liters as soon as you fold down the backrests of the rear seat bench. The horses and boat owners are pleased that the GLE 400 e can tow 3.5 tons and is equipped with a range of stabilizing trailers. The part-time electric vehicle is also equipped for off-road use and offers such nice gimmicks as the transparent bonnet. Anyone who has ever been off-road with a BEV and has been able to precisely meter the gas appreciates that the GLE can also climb over hill and dale with the electric drive.

Traveling in the upgraded GLE is just as much fun as before. The workmanship is impeccable, the materials are classy and the seats are comfortable. The noise level in the interior is also low. We also liked the latest generation of the MBUX system, even if there were no big aha moments. After a short period of getting used to it, it is easy to operate and the graphics on the two 12.3-inch screens are still pin-sharp. You can expect that from a car with a minimum price of 93,063.95 euros. With a few extras, you can quickly crack the 100,000 euro mark. The refreshed Mercedes GLE will be available from dealers from July.