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The next-generation Mercedes-Benz GLE has been spied outside the company’s research and development centre in Germany.

This latest prototype has done away with the temporary headlights, tail-lights and grille, as well as the squared-off false bonnet, seen on earlier development vehicles.

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Although there’s still plenty of camouflage and panels obscuring the rear side window design, we can see the overall shape of the next-generation GLE. The new crossover will trade the current car’s sharp edges, creases and details for the more organic forms found throughout the rest of the Mercedes-Benz range.

For the first time, the spy photographers have also managed to get a look inside the new GLE.

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Unlike the GLC, which basically shares the C-Class’ dashboard layout, the GLE looks as though it will have a completely unique interior design. While the underlying architecture may be shared with the E-Class, the GLE’s dash has rectangular air vents and floats above a centre tunnel, which features sports car-style grab handles.

That said, the new GLE, like many other models in the Mercedes-Benz range, will be available with two high-resolution screens, one for the infotainment system and the other replacing the traditional instrumentation cluster.

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Under the skin, the GLE will be based on the company’s flexible MRA platform for rear- and all-wheel drive cars. Expect to see a selection of four-, six- and eight-cylinder petrol and diesel engines.

It’s likely that the GLE will be one of the first models to feature the company’s new straight-six petrol and diesel engines. These new motors are set to debut with this year’s S-Class facelift.

Although the GLE may make its debut later this year, we don’t expect to see it in Australian showrooms until 2018.

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