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by Matt Campbell

The 2016 Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class replaces the current-generation M-Class, but there’s more to the new model than a name change and a facelift.

The new-look Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class – which will be revealed at next week’s 2015 New York motor show – sees plenty of changes compared with its M-Class predecessor, including a heavily revised front-end with reshaped lights, bumper and grille, while the rear also sees new LED lights and a restyled bumper with reshaped exhausts.

The badging on the new model is another of the big changes, with the conventional models bearing the Mercedes-Benz GLE designation, and the model range including petrol, diesel and a plug-in hybrid version.

The range kicks off with the GLE250d, which features a 2.1-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel with 150kW of power and 480Nm of torque, and uses just 5.4L/100km (claimed). It’s available in two- or all-wheel-drive guise and comes with a nine-speed automatic gearbox as standard.

Further up the range is the GLE350d, which is powered by a 3.0-litre V6 turbo diesel with 190kW and 620Nm. That version is AWD only, and uses 6.4L/100km.

On the petrol side of the equation it’s a twin-turbo-only situation.

Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class_2

The entry-level GLE400 4Matic uses a 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 engine producing 245kW and 480Nm, with claimed fuel use of 8.8L/100km.

The GLE500 4Matic is powered by a twin-turbo 4.7-litre V8 engine pumping out 320kW and 700Nm. Both petrol engines use a seven-speed automatic as standard.

The plug-in hybrid GLE500e 4Matic model is Benz’s first pluggable SUV, and it’s said to “combine the power and refinement of a V8 engine with the fuel consumption of a three-litre car”. Not a car with a 3.0-litre engine – a car that uses 3.3L/100km on the European test cycle.

Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class_9

It does so with a 245kW V6 petrol engine paired to an 85kW electric motor. Their maximum combined output is 325kW and 650Nm, and the SUV can be driven at speeds up to 130km/h in all-electric mode. It has a seven-speed automatic transmission.

On the topic of modes, the drive selection variations include: Hybrid, which uses the car’s computer to choose the best power source; E-mode, for all-electric driving; E-save, which keeps the battery at its current state of charge, reserving e-power for urban driving; and Charge mode, where the petrol engine recharges the batteries.

The most hardcore model sees a further name change – it’s known as the Mercedes-AMG GLE63, and is given away by its more aggressive front bumper styling and single bar grille, not to mention its 20-inch wheels. You’ll be able to tell it beat you away at the lights by its rear diffuser and quad exhaust system.

Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class_15

That version is powered by a twin-turbo 5.5-litre V8 engine producing 410kW and 700Nm, and AMG claims the big unit can hit 100km/h from standstill in 4.3 seconds. Its top speed is 250km/h.

However, it is likely that Australia will see the adoption of the more hardcore AMG S model which has 430kW and 760Nm, and has a claimed 0-100km/h performance time of 4.2sec.

The interior changes from the M-Class to the new GLE are best described as incremental.

Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class_27

The button-dominated dashboard continues over from the old model, though there is a new dash-top media screen that’s similar to the system used in the C-Class.

There are new colours, too, including a range of options such as ginger beige, espresso brown, saddle brown and porcelain. The AMG models get the familiar microsuede trim across multiple surfaces, as well as carbonfibre trim on the dashboard and doors.

Expect the new Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class range to arrive in Australian showrooms around September this year, followed by the more stylised GLE Coupe.

Click the Photos tab above for more images of the new Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class.




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