Mercedes has been on a roll pushing out diesel hybrids for some time now. After Nick praised the E 300 de, it was time to find out if the Mercedes GLE 350 de could replicate this success.
Diesel hybrid is a rare combination, but Mercedes really likes the concept of this as we’ve seen earlier. Now the GLE gets the same treatment and the specs look very promising thanks to the bigger area available in the GLE 350 de. Promising a consumption as low as 0,7 L/100 km!
Such a neat powertrain
The GLE 350 de is powered by a combo of a 2.0L straight-4 diesel engine and an electric motor strapped to the gearbox. The ICE produces 194 hp and 400 Nm whilst your electric wizard produces 136 hp and 440 Nm, this gives a combined torque output of 320 hp and 700 Nm. The reason you can’t just add ’em up is that the peak power of both units comes in at different moments in the power curve.
Thanks to the 31.2 kWh battery, the GLE manages to drive up to 80 km on a single charge. This makes it one of the leading hybrids in terms of range. On certain days, I could manage driving purely electric. And with a 30-minute fast charge, you’re ready for another 80 km. And the range is so predictable as well when driving faster. Most of this is probably because the electric motor is hooked up to the gearbox instead of directly driving the wheels.
This makes it really addictive to just try and drive as much on electric power as possible, only ever using the diesel engine for long distances I managed to average 3.7 L/100 km over 1400 km in one week. An impressive feat and depending on how far you’re driving in one go will influence that figure positively or negatively. On certain days I managed to just drive without ever waking up the small diesel.
And that’s maybe my only complaint. The electric power and 2.0L diesel work great together but once you run out of electric juice, the four-cylinder feels too light for a car like the GLE.
From the front, the GLE has this immense presence on the road. The big grille in combination with the double boomerang headlights provides a ‘king of the road’ look. Those MultiBeams are one of the best things to increase safety at night. Even during the worst rain showers of the year, the lights offer a clear look on the roads ahead without ever blinding anyone else.
The side of the body is sculpted with these square arches providing a rugged look. The back part is personally up for debate as the taillights make the whole rear look a little too soft compared to the rest of the car. But that’s mostly subjective anyway.
Inside Mercedes has opted to style the GL-series a little differently compared to the rest of their line-up. Mostly in terms of dashboard design. You now have squared vents as opposed to round ones to give the car a more rugged feeling.
Furthermore, the quality is top-notch in the GLE 350 de as you’d expect from Mercedes. Tactility on the buttons is very pleasant and the menus are very straight forward. Just one thing that’s quite hidden, is the lower passenger entry mode. It’s behind one too many touch of a button. It would be nice if you could have the car drop down automatically when you turn off the power.
In the back, there’s plenty of space for adults and even a large-sized dog. And most importantly, the car doesn’t suffer from the same battery hump as the E 300 de did. Which means you can enjoy the fully flat floor of the trunk. Put down the rear seats and you can even fit a flamingo!
So is Mercedes onto something?
The large capacity battery for small-ish trips and day to day traffic offers 0 emission driving in a car that people don’t expect to be electric. Why do electric cars always have to look like they’re electric?
But whenever you want to take it on longer trips, you can and it’s still decently fuel-efficient thanks to the diesel engine however I do see why BMW opted to put the 6 cylinder back in the X5 after a short period with a 4 cylinder plug-in hybrid. A bigger combustion powerhouse would be a welcome addition but that’s basically the only thing I can think about. The car is perfect in any other way and the haters can say that a diesel hybrid is a weird thing but the synergy between the 2 just works.