ANYTHING adorning the Mercedes star and beginning with the letters GL is going to be on the larger scale of things and the all-new GLE is no exception.
That's because GL is basically Mercedes for SUV. The German manufacturer, that lays claim to developing the first ever premium SUV back in 1997, ditched its M-Class badging in 2015 and replaced it with the GL tag.
The third letter simply relates to the car it is based upon so the GLA would a pumped up A-Class and the GLS would be a giant of a car bubbling over with luxury.
Our GLE sat neatly between the GLC and GLS and brings all the finesse of the E-Class with beefed up proportions along with full SUV practicality.
The GLE is available with seven seats, although our entry-level model was a five-seat option and powered by a 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel engine producing 245hp and a mighty 500Nm or torque. This powertrain was mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission.
Priced at £55,685 (£59,365 with options), it could complete the 0-62mph dash in a very respectable 7.2 seconds and topped out at 140mph.
That's not too shabby for a family SUV weighing in at more than two tonnes. According to the latest WLTP figures the car can deliver a combined 33.6-39.2mpg with carbon emissions of 169g/km.
The new GLE has had quite a growth spurt - it's longer, wider and lower so looks more dynamic. In addition, the wheelbase has increased which means extra space within the cabin along with more storage room.
There is only one trim level called AMG Line, but customers can choose from more powerful diesel or petrol engines, and of course, fully spec their car with a wealth of optional extras.
From a design viewpoint, the GLE looks imposing from any angle thanks to AMG body-styling which brings front and rear aprons plus side skirts in polished aluminium, multi-beam LED lights, roof rails, tinted windows, a distinctive grille housing the Mercedes emblem, twin tailpipes and 20-inch AMG five-twin-spoke alloy wheels.
But it's the interior that has the overwhelming wow factor. It is one of the most elegant and beautifully crafted cabins on offer today with the likes of soft Nappa leather upholstery, anthracite open-pore oak wood trim, ambient lighting with a choice of 64 colours and two 12.3-inch infotainment screens that stretch two-thirds of the width of the dashboard. It looks gorgeous.
One of the on-board features that seems to have been met with a marmite response is the ‘Hey Mercedes' function. This virtual assistant can help with all manner of requests and after a while I was using the system in a practical way to change the radio stations, turn on the air con, switch off the heated seats and the likes. It's a simple but effective system - you just say the magic ‘Mercedes' word and it springs into life.
Navigating the many on-board techno treats is simple via a new touchpad system with quick access keys or by using touch pads on the steering wheel. Both methods are really intuitive and easy to pick up.
On the downside, the basic model has no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto without adding a Tech Pack. It is also one of the first cars to feature USBC rather than USB ports. These are quicker and more efficient, but you will need the adaptors (included as standard) to connect devices such as smartphones.
When it comes to performance, the GLE handles beautifully with an emphasis more on comfort rather than blistering performance. But it's no slouch either and there are drive modes called Eco, Comfort, Sport, Individual and Off-Road to alter the way the car reacts.
The road holding is ultra-grippy and the acceleration through the nine-speed automatic gearbox is smooth and responsive with flappy paddles for extra control and fun.
Despite its larger-than-life dimensions, the GLE is quite agile although you will find yourself breathing in as you try desperately to keep to your side of the road along narrow lanes. But on the open road it effortlessly eats up the miles and the 4MATIC all-wheel-drive is reassuring factor.
With practicality in mind, the GLE can easily accommodate five adults and the boot, which is power-operated, can swallow between 630 and 2,055 litres of luggage depending on the rear seat positioning.
Elsewhere there is a lockable glovebox, front and rear cup holders, a drop-down sunglasses compartment, deep door bins with a section for large water bottles, nets in the seat backs and a central storage cubby.