Mercedes-Benz is placing a lot of emphasis on its new GLE SUV, with a renewed focus on off-road ability – even creating a 'jumping' function to help owners stuck in sand.
Speaking with media at the Paris motor show, Mercedes-Benz's vice president of compact cars and SUVs, Wolf-Dieter Kurz, explained that off-road driving may not be every customer's caper, but the car still needs to hold its own off the beaten track.
"In principle, one of the key positioning features of the GLE, or the previous ML, was off-road capabilities. It's why we always had a double-speed gearbox available as an option, while some markets took it as standard," Kurz said.
"And in the new GLE we added one more with ABC [Active Body Control], which adds tons of additional features that allows us to implement different types of suspension characteristics both off-road and on-road."
The 'ABC' technology allows Mercedes-Benz to take the GLE to the next level in terms of handling and off-road performance. In addition to an ability to vary suspension height and damper firmness at each corner at any given time, it now allows the company to create modes for extracting stuck customers.
One function shown during the press reveal of the GLE showed it bogged in sand. After selecting reverse, the driver then enabled the bouncing function that would lift and lower the vehicle rapidly to help gain traction and get out of a rutted sand hole. It looks great in theory, but like most technology it's likely to only work within a set of strict parameters.
Kurz was confident that the all-new platform unique to the GLE will help the brand further differentiate it from the outgoing model.
"It's a sign that it's still an SUV. It's not an attractive on-road only vehicle, it has capability and the customer has the knowledge the car is good on all kinds of road conditions," he said, "one of the key things with the GLE is that it's a dedicated platform for the vehicle now. It's not an E-Class or anything else, it's a dedicated platform."
"That gives us flexibility in terms of roominess, seating position and off-road capability. We are more free in which direction we are developing the product," Kurz added.
The all-new 2019 Mercedes-Benz GLE will launch with a 3.0-litre turbocharged six-cylinder petrol engine mated to a 48V mild-hybrid system, dubbed GLE450 4Matic. Four- and six-cylinder diesel engines will come into play further down the track.
In terms of the Australian market, the GLE is scheduled to go on sale Down Under during the second quarter of 2019.
GLE or Range Rover Sport?
REVEALED: 2019 Mercedes-Benz GLE