Confused by the name GLE? This car is actually a facelifted, re-named Mercedes ML. Mercedes have now adopted the policy of adding the GL lettering to all of their SUV and crossover cars, in a nod to the classic G-Wagen, meaning that the series now goes GLA, GLC, GLE and so on.
In giving their range a facelift Mercedes have clearly expressed their intent to encroach into the SUV market, something which is currently dominated by Range Rover, BMW and Audi. With the greater luxury and sleeker styling clearly present on our GLES model, it's easy to see that their strategy is working. One extra string to their bow in the fight for SUV supremacy is the surprising efficiency of the GLE models, which makes this car an excellent hire for both corporate clients and energy-conscious individuals.
Particular features to note on this car are the restyled exterior with features such as re-profiled bumpers and new expressive tail lamps, as well as the revised dashboard, new steering wheel and high quality trim inside.
Mercedes have upped their game in the engine department too. Our GLES 250d has a 2.1 litre four cylinder engine, which delivers increased performance as well as a 17% improvement in emissions and economy compared to the previous version. The engine performs particularly well when motorway cruising, but is certainly no slouch in other areas - even tackling steep inclines and off-road tasks.
Coupled to the diesel engine is the all-new 9 speed automatic transmission, which provides an even lower first gear to better tackle those steep inclines, as well as a higher top ratio to give drastic improvements in economy. As reviews have noted, the "provision of such a high ratio - it equals 50mph per 1,000 revs - allows the new model to punch well above its weight as a mile-muncher that nonetheless has a remarkably relaxed demeanour during high speed cruising."
The car, naturally, comes with four-wheel-drive, and there are also a range of driving modes to choose from. The car delivers an accessible, exciting drive and a huge range of options for those who like to explore the limits of a car's performance.
To enhance your experience we've added Sport trim to the car, giving you 19in alloys, parking sensors, reversing camera, adaptive LED headlights, Mercedes' COMAND online system and 8in display infotainment system, a DAB tuner, climate control and heated front seats. Don't say we don't spoil you!
With its huge amount of room, comfortable interior, capable performance and stacks of safety gear, this is a great choice for those looking for a reliable steed to convey themselves and their family off on holiday. Yet it's an equally good option for corporate hire, with the sleek styling creating as good an impression on clients as its eco-friendly features will on your boss.
Thanks to its desire to compete with the likes of Range Rover, the car's interior is predictably stylish, luxurious and comfortable. Form and function have been seamlessly integrated - for example the gearbox and gearstick have been engineered to provide enough space for cupholders in this new model. A small change, perhaps, but one that shows the marque's commitment to passenger experience.
The dashboard now has luxurious leather trims, matching those on the centre console, doors and seats, as well as silver surrounds for air vents. Also integrated into the dash is an eight inch screen that is operated a dial between the front seats - from here you can access a range of Mercedes Connect services as well as all the standard Comand infotainment features: including sat-nav, Bluetooth, two USB ports, internet access and a DAB digital radio connected to eight speakers.
The seats are incredibly comfortable, with those up front benefitting from heated seats as well as adjustable lumbar support. Within easy reach of the driver is that new-style steering wheel, the Dynamic Select control knob that allows you to switch between 'comfort', 'slippery', 'sport' or 'individual' settings, as well as controls for luxury features such as dual-zone climate control and mood lighting.
In the back, there is ample room for three more passengers to stretch out in utter comfort, with privacy glass ensuring they can relax undisturbed, and storage cubbies ensuring they can have everything they need within easy reach. There is also more than ample storage in the boot, alongside the possibility of creating a totally flat loading space from the rear of the car up to the back of the front seats by lowering the rear seatbacks.
Those familiar with Mercedes will not be surprised to learn that it has an extensive list of safety equipment, including a bonnet that automatically rises if it senses a collision and seven individual airbags - there's even one for the driver's knees.
The word that first comes to mind when you view our Mercedes GLES 250D is 'fresh'. There is something remarkably spring-like about this facelifted SUV, which points to a new beginning and an enhanced styling that's guaranteed to make a good impression.
The bodywork on the GLES is a lot smoother than that of its predecessor, with a longer and wider frame adding to the refined, elegant appearance. New features include a new front grille, revised headlights, bumpers, bonnet and wings, as well as a revised tailgate and rear lamp cluster.
Although it gives off a stately air, it also has an unmistakable hint of aggression - something created by that large new grille and the air intakes underneath, the roof rails, new LED headlights and twin rear tailpipes. It might be a smooth, safe Mercedes, but this styling is a clear warning not to underestimate the GLES.