The Mercedes GLE’s cabin comes with plenty of plush-feeling materials and some decent in-car tech but alternatives look more modern and are easier to use
The GLE’s interior has large swathes of expensive looking trim pieces and heavily cowled dials that would look perfectly at home in an expensive sports car.
Cheap-feeling plastics are in the minority and, on top of that, buttons and switches work with a robust slickness and cubby lids glide open with a damped action.
There are rather a lot of buttons to get your head around and the GLE can’t match the minimalist style of the newer E-Class’ cabin. On the upside, all GLEs come with Mercedes’ upgraded Comand Online infotainment system with an eight-inch screen.
Sport versions are the least expensive in the GLE range, but you wouldn’t know it from behind the wheel. They come with cold-to-the-touch aluminium trim pieces, and, although the Artico leather is man-made, it looks and feels like the real deal, and it comes in black, brown or ‘ginger beige’…
AMG Line models feel a bit sportier still. They’re only available with black Artico leather and get the same aluminium trim pieces as the entry-level car.
What marks them out is their flat-bottomed AMG branded steering wheel, body-hugging front seats, metal pedals and chequer-flag style instrument binnacle. They also come with cool mood lighting that lets you choose from white, amber and ice-blue glows.
Designo Line cars are more luxurious. They come with a proper, nappa leather interior – you can choose from espresso brown or porcelain black colours – glossy wood trim pieces and a black roof lining.
That leaves the top-of-the-range Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S 4Matic performance model, which also comes with a nappa leather interior in black, espresso brown or porcelain black. They get their own unique, AMG-brand sports seats, an AMG sports steering wheel that’s shaped for your hands and AMG instrument cluster with racy-red highlights.
The GLE’s cabin is like a room in Buckingham Palace – spacious and luxurious, but in need of modernisation
All GLEs come with Mercedes’ Comand Online infotainment system with an eight-inch high-resolution screen. Unfortunately, the graphics are drab and rather dated. The system includes a Bluetooth phone connection, DAB digital radio, and (if you buy an GLE500e hybrid) Mercedes Me Connect, which allows you to remotely warm up the cabin, check the battery’s charge and program the sat-nav.
Unfortunately, the Comand Online system’s controls are split between a touchpad and a control knob that can be confusing to operate and the menus aren’t particularly well organised – a BMW X5’s system is much more intuitive.
The smartphone mirroring systems also mean you can use your phone’s music apps through the car’s decent eight-speaker stereo, but if you’re a music fan it’s worth splashing out on the Harman Kardon stereo.
It’s standard with Designo Line and 63 S 4MATIC models or comes as part of the £2,395 Premium Pack on the rest of the range. It has 14 speakers and a 830W output and, although it’s not quite as good as the Burmester stereo fitted to other Mercedes models, it’s still very impressive.
The Premium Pack even looks like good value because it bundles together the fancy stereo with a 360-degree exterior camera display, auto park (that’ll steer the car into spaces for you), a panoramic glass sunroof and keyless go, so you can open and start the car without having to take the key out your pocket.