This is the all-new Mercedes GLE. It’ll take to the stage at next month’s Paris Motor Show ahead of going on sale in the UK early next year. Eventually the GLE range will be made up of four, six and eight-cylinder engines, as well as plug-in hybrid powertrains.
Externally, the GLE is still recognisable as the brand’s mid-size SUV. The BMW X5 and Audi Q7 rival takes an evolutionary approach to design, with a big, bold front end, large grille and sharp LED lights. The back end gets a subtle update, too, with a blacked-out D-pillar and slimmer tail-lights.
The wheelbase has been stretched by 80mm, which Mercedes says creates “significantly more space, especially for passengers in the rear”. Headroom has been boosted by 33mm, too, while buyers will be able to spec electrically-operated seat backs for improved comfort. The 825-litre boot is 125 litres bigger than before, while a total volume of 2,055 litres puts the GLE on par with the biggest cars in its class. In addition, Mercedes will offer the GLE with the option of seven seats for the first time.
Up front, you’ll find an adaptation of the dual-screen infotainment system found in the A-Class, E-Class and S-Class. The two 12.3-inch screens sit above four individual air vents; the cabin is covered in woods, metal and leather from top to bottom.
The GLE will launch in the UK with two engines: one petrol and one diesel. The GLE 450 4MATIC uses a 362bhp in-line six-cylinder unit bolstered by 48-volt technology to improve performance and lower emissions. Mercedes claims this unit is capable of up to 34mpg, with CO2 emissions as low as 190g/km. A more economical GLE 300 d 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel will also be available. All models will use a nine-speed automatic gearbox.
Later down the line Mercedes will add a GLE 350 de diesel plug-in hybrid, as well as a pair of six-cylinder diesel (350 d and 400 d) engines. The flagship AMG versions won’t arrive until 2020, at which point a GLE Coupe will also be added to the line-up.
The new GLE will come with a whole host of clever safety kit and driver assistance systems, including Active Distance Assist DISTRONIC. This system detects and responds to tailbacks with the help of in-built LiveTraffic software, and can alert the car to potential hazards. The GLE can slow automatically, utilising the Active Brake Assist system if no input is made by the driver.
Active Stop-and-Go Assist can then control the car in traffic, reducing the driver’s workload by recognising lane markings as well as the traffic ahead. If the car is brought to a halt, the GLE will re-engage drive if the vehicle ahead moves off within 60 seconds. Traffic sign recognition ensures the car automatically adjusts its speed for the prevailing limit.
The new GLE gets ‘fully networked’ hydropneumatic E-Active Body Control suspension. Working in conjunction with the newly developed air springs, the system can control the damping at each individual wheel to counteract roll, pitch and squat. In theory, it should make the GLE both more comfortable and better to drive. The higher-power engines can be paired with a clever 4MATIC all-wheel drive system, which is able to send up to 100 per cent of its torque to either axle on demand.
Specifications will be revealed at a later date but in the UK only AMG Line models will be sold. The entry-level diesel GLE is expected to start at around £54,000 before options.
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