The tease is over. Finally. Mercedes-Benz has officially revealed its new GLE, ahead of an in-person debut at the Paris motor show.
Given the protracted tease, not to mention the abundance of spy photos we saw of the GLE, there aren't too many surprises when it comes to the exterior design. There's a new lighting signature up front, and the Mercedes design team has refined the creased flanks from the previous car into a smoother shape, more in keeping with the brand's current design language.
The rear three-quarter window has the same basic shape as GLE/ML models past, while there are smaller, more angular tail-lights than we've seen on previous large Benz SUV models. Wheels ranging from 18 to 22 inches are available.
With the right options ticked (think aero wheel covers, for example) it slices through the air with a 0.29 coefficient of drag, down from 0.32 on the old car.
Inside, the cabin represents a combination of G-Wagen styling touches and A-Class technology. The flat dash panel and grab handles on the transmission tunnel are clear nods to the legendary off-roader, while the four square air vents represent an evolution of the quad-vent setup in the E-Class.
A dual-screen infotainment setup dominates the dashboard, running the latest Mercedes-Benz User Experience (MBUX) infotainment system. Debuted in the A-Class, it responds to inputs from a haptic controller on the transmission tunnel, or to 'Hey Mercedes' voice commands.
MBUX has been tailored to the GLE with special off-roading displays, and a function that moves the seats into a "usually suitable position" based on the driver's height. It'll learn your habits – things like when you call certain people or change radio stations, for example – and offer smart suggestions based on those habits, in an attempt to make life easier.
Along with the dual-screen display, a head-up display is offered as an option.
With an 80mm longer wheelbase than the model it replaces, the new GLE has an extra 69mm of second-row legroom and 33mm of extra headroom. There's 825L of boot space, expandable to 2055L with the second and (optional) third row folded flat. When the box for air suspension is ticked, you can drop the rear by 40mm to make loading bulky items easier, too.
The car will launch with the GLE450 4Matic, powered by a turbocharged six-cylinder petrol engine and a 48V EQ Boost mild hybrid system, mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission. The petrol engine makes a base 270kW and 500Nm, but the integrated 48V starter/generator system can add 16kW/250Nm with the throttle buried. The 48V system also supports active anti-roll, and smarter start/stop.
When they join the range, four-cylinder GLE variants will get a 4Matic system running a permanent 50/50 torque split, while the GLE450 gets a fully variable torque split thanks to its central, electrically-controlled multi-plate clutch.
As with the E-Class, you're offered the full gamut of semi-autonomous safety and highway assist functions, along with niceties like trailer manoeuvring assist.
The new GLE will touch down in the second quarter of 2019.
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