At almost the same time, Mercedes and BMW have facelifted the Mercedes GLE and BMW X5 business-class SUVs. We look at the first static comparison, which one offers more.
The fourth-generation BMW X5 (G05) debuted in November 2018, while the fourth-generation Mercedes GLE (W167) was unveiled in October 2018 at the Paris Motor Show.
Exterior design changes are more noticeable on the BMW X5, which has a new front end with slimmer headlights and an optional illuminated grille after the facelift. The Mercedes GLE, on the other hand, you have to look closely to see the differences on the outside. Instead, Mercedes comes with many technical changes, just like the BMW X5.
More powerful Plug-In Hybrid models
Mercedes and BMW have different philosophies on PHEV models, but both now have more power. Mercedes offers two PHEV versions, and BMW only one.
In the BMW X5 xDrive50e, the system power has increased by 96 ps to 490 ps, and the total maximum torque is now 700 Nm, 100 Nm higher than before. The electric motor develops 197 ps and 280 Nm, but thanks to an integrated gear demultiplication, it reaches 450 Nm. Although BMW’s PHEV system is based on an inline 6-cylinder engine, the X5 xDrive50e is much lighter than the Mercedes GLE, weighing 2495 kg.
One explanation is that BMW has a slightly smaller battery capacity of 25.7 kWh net (29.5 kWh) compared to 23.4 kWh net (31.2 kWh gross) in Mercedes. As a result, the BMW X5 xDriv50e can be driven in purely electric mode with a top speed of 140 km/h; the maximum speed in hybrid mode is limited to 250 km/h, and 0-100 km/h acceleration is achieved in 4.5 seconds.
The two PHEV versions of the Mercedes GLE are powered by 4-cylinder diesel (GLE 350 de 4Matic) and petrol (GLE 400 e 4Matic) engines. Both versions have higher power outputs.
The Mercedes GLE 400 e 4Matic has a total output of 380 ps (333 ps before) and maximum torque of 600 Nm. A 2-liter turbo engine with 252 ps and 400 Nm is mated to an electric motor with 136 ps and 440 Nm.
The PHEV diesel version combines the 2-liter diesel engine with 197 ps and 440 Nm with the same 136 ps and 440 Nm electric motor, delivering a total of 333 ps compared to 320 ps before.
Unlike BMW, both Mercedes GLE PHEV models are much heavier: 2605 kg for petrol and 2655 kg for diesel.
48V mild hybrid system for all engines
As far as conventional engines are concerned, absolutely all versions have received the 48V mild hybrid system. BMW has integrated a 12 ps/200 Nm starter generator between the 8-speed automatic transmission and the combustion engine. In contrast, Mercedes has a 20 ps/200 Nm starter generator in the standard versions and 22 ps/200 Nm in the AMG versions. Here is the engine list by comparison.
BMW X5 xDrive40i 381 ps/520 Nm plus ISG 12 ps/200 Nm
BMW X5 M60i xDrive 530 ps/750 Nm plus ISG 12 ps/200 Nm
BMW X5 xDrive30d 286 ps/650 Nm plus ISG 12 ps/200 Nm
Mercedes GLE 450 4Matic 381 ps/500 nm plus ISG 20 ps/200 Nm
Mercedes GLE 300 d 4Matic 269 ps/550 Nm plus ISG 20 ps/200 Nm
Mercedes GLE 450 d 4Matic 367 ps/750 Nm plus ISG 20 ps/200 Nm
Mercedes-AMG GLE 53 4Matic+ 435 ps/560 Nm plus ISG 22 ps/200 Nm
Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S 4Matic+ 612 ps/850 Nm plus ISG 22 ps/200 Nm
As you can see, Mercedes has also facelifted the AMG versions, while BMW has not yet revised the X5 M/X5 M Competition versions, the most potent version being the MPeformance M60i xDrive. It has the same 530 ps as the former M50i xDrive and accelerates just as fast from 0-60mph in 4.3 seconds.
The BMW X5 xDrive40i now has 380 ps compared to 333 ps before, while the power output of the diesel X5 xDrive 30i is unchanged at 286 ps. With the integrated generator starter, the total output reaches 298 hp.
Mercedes now only offers two AMG top versions, the 53 and 63 S, as the 63 version is only available in the more powerful 612 ps S version. The AMG GLE 53 4Matic has the same power, but the larger turbocharger has increased maximum torque from 520 to 560 Nm. The AMG 53 4Matic thus accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h in just 5 seconds, 0.3 seconds faster than before.
Optional air suspension, integral steering only on BMW
After the facelift, the BMW x5 is available with adaptive suspension as standard. In addition, optional air suspension is available on both axles. The air suspension lowers by 10 mm at over 138 kph (86 mph) and by 20 mm at over 200 kph (124 mph). In Sport mode, the suspension is 20 mm lower at any speed. In the Off-road, the suspension can be raised by 20 or 40 mm, and 6-cylinder versions get the Off-road package that combines air suspension with the M Sport differential.
Optional all-wheel steering, unavailable on Mercedes, is offered. For all versions except the X5 xDrive50e, the M Professional adaptive suspension package is offered, including M adaptive suspension, integral steering, M Sport active differential and active stabiliser bars.
Mercedes also offers Airmatic air suspension as an option. The Mercedes GLE is better prepared for off-road than the BMW because the Off-road Engineering package offers 30 mm more ground clearance in combination with the air suspension. The Mercedes additionally has the low-range gear and the ability to lock the center differential. In addition, the off-road package also comes with a front-facing camera under the car, the so-called transparent bonnet.
Surprisingly, the previous generation’s costly active suspension (7735 euros) no longer appears in the Mercedes configurator. The Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S 4Matic comes standard with AMG Active Ride Control suspension with active anti-roll bars, also available as an option on the AMG GLE 53 4Matic. Because the two SUVs are often used as tow vehicles, the 3.5-ton towing capacities and 140-kg hitch loads are the same on both models.
Second generation MBUX system, OS8 in BMW X5
On the inside, the Mercedes dashboard has hardly changed at all. Notice the two 12.3-inch interlocking screens and the dedicated climate control system, separated by the four rectangular vents. With the gearshift still mounted on the steering wheel column, space on the center armrest is reserved for the touchpad that controls the multimedia system. The front seat controls are still placed on the doors.
New is the steering wheel taken over from the GLS or S-Class and the second generation of the MBUX multimedia system. The multimedia screen can also be controlled by touch, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are now available wirelessly, and the voice assistant has become more interactive. New apps can be installed over the air.
We expected Mercedes to carry over the new portrait screen from the new C and S-Class, but those changes would probably have been too laborious. But perhaps the next generation will take them over.
On the other hand, the BMW X5’s dashboard is entirely new because the X5 has switched from the previous iDrive system to the new OS8 operating system that comes with a curved display that groups the 12.3-inch instrument cluster and 14.9-inch multimedia system screen under the same glass. With the introduction of OS8, the separate climate control block also disappeared, with the controls now touch-sensitive directly on the 14.9-inch screen.
Thanks to the new wider screens, the vents are placed lower and are more discreet. The only physical buttons on the center console are the windscreen, rear window defoggers, and the volume knob. Also, for the facelift, the BMW X5 adopted a joystick for the gearshift instead of the classic shifter, but the controller remains one of the options for controlling the multimedia system.
Because the dimensions are virtually unchanged, both models offer the same space inside.
The Mercedes GLE has an advantage in terms of boot volume, which ranges from 825 to 2055 liters, while the BMW offers only 650 to 1870 liters. Both models have a 40/20/40 split rear seat. As before, the BMW hatchback is in two pieces.
Mercedes loses its trunk volume advantage in the PHEV versions, as in the GLE 400 e 4Matic, the trunk shrinks to 490-1915 liters compared to 500-1720 liters in the BMW X5 xDrive50e.
But Mercedes’ PHEV versions are far superior in terms of charge options. While the BMW can only charge at AC stations with up to 7.4 kW (single-phase), the Mercedes sets at AC stations with 11 kW (three-phase) as standard. And optionally, Mercedes offers DC charging sockets up to 60 kW. With large batteries, the Mercedes’ advantage is important because it can charge quickly during longer journeys.
Both models offer seats with numerous electric adjustments, massage, heating, and ventilation options. There is also an option for a third row of seats on both models, but this option is not available on the PHEV versions due to the presence of the battery under the boot floor.
At this point, it’s hard to make a detailed assessment as Mercedes has released prices for only three versions.
The cheapest Mercedes GLE is the GLE 300 d 4Matic which costs €85,055. The GLE 450 d 4Matic, the world’s most potent diesel, costs 97,978.65 euros. The Mercedes GLE 450 4Matic is priced at 95,455.85 euros, but Mercedes has not announced prices for the PHEV and AMG versions.
The surprise is that BMW has increased the prices, and now the base model X5 xDrive30d costs 86,300 euros, almost 1,300 euros more expensive than the GLE 300 d 4Matic. Instead, xDrive40i, which now has comparable power to the GLE 450 4Matic, costs 89,300 euros, being about 6,000 euros cheaper. The xDrive50e PHEV version costs 92,300 euros, and the most powerful model, the M60i xDrive, comes in at 112,600 euros.
The new Mercedes GLE will arrive in showrooms in July 2023 as a 2024 model.