A GLE emerges in the rear view mirror, flashes the headlight and overtakes. My speedometer shows 130 km/h. Nothing unusual except one cannot hear anything except the tyres against the road. Its looks exactly like the latest 2019 GLE but for a fuelling cap on the left side. What’s that? Further inspection makes the situation a bit complicated as there is a fuel refiller on the right side also. Then the badge above the left tail light gives away the mystery. It says GLE 350 de. The de stands for the plug-in hybrid models now introduced by Mercedes Benz. This third generation hybrid has an enhanced range and more powerful motors.

The GLE 350 de is powered by a 1959 cc inline 4 cylinder diesel engine placed longitudinally. This engine is capable for producing 194 BHP at 3800 rpm and 400 N-m of torque between 1600 and 2800 rpm . Coupled to this power train is a 100 KW permanently excited synchronous electric motor which generates another 440 N-m of torque from the word go. The combined output of this power train is 320 BHP and 700 N-m of torque. Enough power and twist to accelerate the car from 0 to 100 km/h in 6.8 seconds and allow it to reach a top speed of 210 km/h.

The advantage of the car is its enhanced electric only performance. The car is capable of an electric only range of 106 km and a top speed of 160 km/h. This has been made possible due to a larger battery pack of 31.2 KW-H placed beneath the boot. The rear axle has been modified to hold the larger battery without affecting the luggage capacity of the boot which is more than sufficient at 1915 litres. The car claims a combined fuel efficiency of 1.1l/100 km.

To take care of the range anxiety, Mercedes has provided several innovative solutions. The car has been provided with a combined charging socket for alternating current (AC) and direct current (DC) charging provided on the left side and positioned symmetrically with the diesel refilling cap. At a DC charging station the car can be charged from 10 to 80% in 20 minutes and from 10 to 100% in 30 minutes. In case you want to charge the car in the comfort of your home from a wallbox, no problem, it can be achieved in 1-1/2 hours. While a conventional domestic plug point can charge the car in 5 hours. Out on road and concerned about charging? Mercedes has provided a Mercedes me Charge app which is integrated with the Mercedes Benz User Experience (MBUX) system onboard. This system helps you find a charging station by simply uttering the magical words, “Hey Mercedes, find charging stations nearby”. Using the Mercedes me Charge, owners can obtain access to one of the world’s largest charging networks, with over 300 different operators in Europe alone. The navigation system allows the Mercedes-Benz owners find these stations easily and gain access to the charging stations via the Mercedes me Charge card, the Mercedes me App or directly from the car.

The GLE offers, as other GLEs the best of on and off-road experiences thanks to a long wheelbase, short overhangs and large, flush-fitted wheels. Its long 2995 mm wheelbase provides large and comfortable interiors. This car is the only car in its class offering a reclining and adjustable middle row of seats. As a hybrid the GLE features fully-variable all-wheel drive (torque on demand) making it even more agile and safe on the road. In addition to the driver assist systems in the normal GLE, the 350 de has been provided with an additional Active Stop-and-Go Assist. The car recovers up to 1800 N-m of energy during braking and in electric mode, most stopping and slowing functions can be carried out using the accelerator itself. One of the greatest innovations compared with the previous models is the use of a torque converter with integrated lockup clutch as a starting device, and an additional clutch between the combustion engine and electric motor for all-electric driving.

For true enthusiasts who want to use their SUVs for sports and utility, the GLE 350 de can tow up to 3500 kg. The Trailer Manoeuvring Assist controls the steering angle of the towing vehicle automatically making manoeuvring with a trailer easy even for the inexperienced.

Another major advantage of the hybrid is that its high voltage electric system can also run the air conditioning and heating systems when the engine is off. This allows the owner of this car to either cool it down in a summery afternoon or heat it up in the Scandinavian winter before entering the car.