Road test review: Mercedes-Benz GLE 300d - Wed 11 Sep 02:15 GMT

M-B's SUV now rivals its traditional sedans for cabin comfort and technology.

  Don't be fooled by the exquisite styling proportions of the new Mercedes-Benz GLE SUV: step up into it and you suddenly find everything's about 20 per cent larger than you expected.

  READ MORE: * New GLE is bigger than Texas * Mercedes triples range of GLE hybrid * Driving Mercedes-Benz's first pure EV * Is GLS the S-class of SUVs?

  The fit and finish is exceptional and M-B's option packages do let you take the GLE to whatever level of luxury you want.

  The only low point is rather high: M-B NZ insists on putting running boards on its SUVs, which not only look naff but also make your (presumably) expensive trousers dirty because they are too small to safely step on in wet weather, but too large to be out of the way.

  The only reason you would have bought the ageing GLE (the "E" aligning it with the E-class in the brand's model range) would be if you really, really wanted an SUV.

  Now, the GLE is not just an SUV alternative: it's a rival for the traditional E-class in terms of luxury (if not ride comfort or handling) and beats it for technology.

  There's a plug-in hybrid version of the GLE on the way (with 100km electric range and a diesel engine), but our 300d's $150k-ish as-tested pricetag could easily go towards a BEV like an Audi e-tron, Jaguar I-Pace, Tesla Model X - or presumably Mercedes-Benz's own forthcoming EQC.