Mercedes versus Mercedes: GLC or GLE, which is the best?

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SUV versus SUV. The price difference between the Mercedes GLC and GLE SUVs raises the question of which is the best? Is the 10,000 euro more expensive GLE really worth it? Auto-motor-und-sport answers.

If we are already talking about advancement, let’s figure it out. It is 16.5 centimeters the driver of a GLE sits higher than that of a GLC. If we now asked whether every millimeter of extra seat height would be worth 60.60 euros, this comparison test would be quickly clarified with a “no”.

But we start from the beginning, in November 2011, as the third generation of the ML came to life. Although the GLE started out in July 2015 as a facelifted model, he is already in its fifth autumn. All those who do not just daily pull a 2.95-ton trailer up the gravel road to an alpine pasture, can immediately consider what they would like to do with 10,000 euros they would save if they sign for the GLC instead.

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We could have saved the whole cost calculation. The only way to foresee the foreseeable. The fact that both come with nearly equal stingy basic equipment, that is, with halogen light, with simple radios/CDs/small LCDs and no navigation or parking sensors would undermine the entire comparison. The fact that both score poorly in the equipment rating is nevertheless based on the principle, which should evaluate differences. Here, however, both are almost equidistant.

Larger differences are shown in the extras. Thus the GLE can be pitted with the off-road technology package (lockable central differential, simulated lock on front and rear wheels, reduction gearbox, underrun protection, 2.261 Euro) for a long gravel life. On the other hand, the GLC can brag about the 2.5 tonnes of trailer load, terrain characteristics for ESP and propulsion as well as the downhill driving aid.

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GLE with the 250 d under-powered
We do not leave, but go. Deep under the bonnet of the GLE sits the Biturbodiesel. In the engine room, which is sufficient for the 5.5-liter V8, the four-cylinder is lost. It does not have much to gain either. Despite the 500 Nm, which it piles up from 1,600 rpm, the sturdy OM 651 in the 2.25 ton heavy GLE often feels overworked. This is also because of the automatic, which is sometimes stressed by the many steps: nine. So we recommend as the most important extra two more cylinders and 844 cubic meters for 4.046 Euro – GLE 350 d is the one to go for.

More driving pleasure in the GLC
With the 309 kilo lighter GLC, on the other hand, the same driver harmonizes comfortably. The diesel pushes from low rotational speeds vigorously and homogeneously – also here old-school in the sound department. Meanwhile, the nine-speed gearbox can now rely on the pressing force of the torque. This results in better driving performance with lower consumption and higher driving comfort.

The GLC is also more fun, neutral and with a fine balance of directness, precision, feedback and serenity in the steering through curves – unshakeably secure. For the high agility it does not even need the tight sports characteristic of the optional air suspension (2.261 euros). In “Comfort”, everything is good, because the GLC itself overstrains heavy unevenness.

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On the other hand, the air-sprung (costs here 2,035 euros) GLE relies more on unevenness, overloaded short shocks seeming harsher. Even in the tight sports mode, the GLE fluctuates around curves, while the more indirect steering is lacking feedback and precision. Everything remains safe ultimately, but the GLE simply needs more space on the road. It can hardly offer more space inside. On the hard back seat, the advantage is limited to 1.5 cm more standard seat space, 3 cm more height and 5.5 cm more width. Even in the front, it is not noticeably more spacious. The 140 to 410 liters larger luggage compartment is a bonus, though.

The GLC is considerably cheaper
As if it had not already been clear enough, the GLC also beats the GLE on costs. Car tax 40 euros, liability 50 euros, partial cover 228 euros, fully comprehensive insurance 271 euros: alone costs 589 euros per year at fixed costs – this is the minimum the GLC 250 d against the GLE 250 d saves. The advantage of the lower fuel consumption (7.9 instead of 8.9 l / 100 km) adds up to 113 (at 10.000 km per year) to 452 Euro (at 40,000 km). And we still have lower maintenance and spare parts costs to remember. (all costs for German market)

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With the GLC 250 d you can easily save € 10,000. The smaller SUV offers hardly any less space, lush loader space, better comfort, more powerful drive and a more enjoyable drive.