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Mercedes reveals its GLE posh-roader
This is the new Mercedes GLE. We’ve already seen the X6-rivaling GLE Coupe, don’t forget, but this is the sensible shoes X5-rival, replacing the ML off-roader as part of Merc’s nameplate spring clean.
Effectively a facelift rather than an all-new model, the styling hasn’t changed drastically, with new lights and grilles giving the GLE a modest sharpen up over the ML.
And while a pair of diesel options - newly equipped with a nine-speed auto gearbox - will continue to mop up most sales, it’s the most and least frugal models that ought to pique your interest most.
Starting with the former, a plug-in hybrid joins Merc’s SUV range for the first time. The GLE 500e combines a 328bhp 3-litre V6 petrol engine with an electric motor, with a total combined output of 436bhp and 480lb ft.
Those sorts of figures wouldn’t look out of place in a top-end sports car, and in this two-and-a-bit ton SUV they’re twinned with official 78g/km and 85.6mpg economy figures. Hugely impressive, though quite how repeatable they will be in the real-world is another discussion.
The 500e can be driven on pure electric at up to 80mph, with a claimed range of 18 miles, while the lithium ion battery can be charged in around two hours. The GLE will likely be most effective used as a hybrid, though, with the engine keeping the battery topped up and the motor called upon at low speed or to supplement engine power. As with all GLEs, the 500e comes with permanent four-wheel drive.
At the opposite end of the scale is the altogether more aggressive GLE 63 S AMG (pictured in white). Arriving only as a more powerful ‘S’ variant compared to the ‘standard’ ML63 AMG, it effectively develops a whole 60bhp more than its predecessor.
Its 577bhp output and subsequent 4.2-second 0-62mph time keep it very competitive against the BMW X5M, Porsche Cayenne Turbo and Range Rover Sport SVR with which it’ll brawl.
The AMG’s four-wheel-drive system sends 60 per cent of its power to the rear wheels in lieu of the 50:50 front/rear power split in the rest of the range, while it comes as standard with the body roll-battling Active Curve System. Rather useful in something this bulky, we imagine.
The GLE range as a whole is dripping with tech: there’s an air suspension option, a Dynamic Select system which can be toggled between various on- and off-road setups, all manner of active safety systems and lots of posh little details like electronically closing doors, night vision and heated windscreen wipers. Yep, they are actually a thing.
Mercedes will give the GLE its debut at next week’s New York motor show, when further details should emerge. Expect a £50,000 starting point when it arrives in the UK in September.