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Paris show: All-new Mercedes-Benz GLE breaks cover

Mercedes updates tech, features, powertrains with savvy new GLE large SUV

12 Sep 2018

MERCEDES-BENZ has ripped the covers off its second-generation GLE large SUV, which gains a raft of new technological features ahead of an Australian debut in the second quarter of 2019.
The refreshed GLE gains some of the brand’s more recent design cues, as well as its latest technological innovations including the MBUX infotainment system and a 48-volt mild-hybrid powertrain.
Set to make its public debut at the Paris motor show next month, the new GLE bears updated styling similar to the new design language shown on the A-Class and CLS, with less angular headlights complete with Mercedes’ signature boomerang-style LED daytime running light signatures. 
The LED headlights can cast light over a distance of up to 650 metres, at the maximum brightness permitted by law.
The grille is now more rounded, retaining its twin horizontal louvres, while the lower bumper has undergone some minor tweaks
At the rear, the new design language is more evident with rhombus-shaped tail-lights that mirror the A-Class and CLS, and when viewed in profile evoke the styling of the GLE’s predecessor, the ML-Class.
Wheelbase length has been increased by 80mm giving the new GLE a more imposing on-road stance, while alloy wheels ranging from 18 to 22 inches will be offered.
Drag coefficient has been reduced from 0.32Cd to 0.29Cd, thanks to improvements to the radiator cooling system, side and wheel spoilers, underbody panelling and optimised exterior mirrors.
Mercedes has chosen to only reveal powertrain details of the mid-spec GLE450, which will gain the new EQ Boost inline petrol donk that teams a 3.0-litre turbo-petrol six-cylinder engine to a 48-volt mild-hybrid belt-driven starter/alternator.
The petrol engine develops 270kW/500Nm, while the starter/alternator can briefly add 16kW/250Nm. Fuel consumption is rated between 8.3-9.6 litres per 100km, while emissions stand between 190-200 grams of CO2 per km.
A nine-speed automatic transmission and 4Matic all-wheel drive are standard, which in six- and eight-cylinder engines allows for 100 per cent torque transfer between the front and rear axles. Mercedes also offers a low-range transfer case with fixed torque distribution as an option for increased off-road capacity.
More engines including a diesel and a plug-in hybrid will be launched further down the line. The new inline six-cylinder diesel engine is likely to be offered, while a 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 AMG version is expected to arrive later.
The new GLE will feature Mercedes’ new E-Active body control suspension system as an option, which controls the spring and damping forces for each wheel individually, allowing the vehicle to lean into bends and adjust to different road surfaces on the fly.
Hydropneumatics help assist the Airmatic air suspension, while the 48V system in the E-Active suspension can help recuperate energy. Air and coil-spring suspension will also be offered.
New active safety features include active tailback assist, which aids braking and stop-and-go movement in highway traffic jams, and can even help form an emergency lane for service vehicles.
European versions are offered with trailer manoeuvring assist, which assists in reversing a trailer at low speeds. It is not yet confirmed whether Australian versions will be offered with the feature.
Inside, the GLE will become the second Mercedes SUV after the G63 AMG to gain the brand’s new MBUX infotainment system, projected onto two 12.3-inch screens.
An optional Interior Assist feature will be offered, which uses movement recognition to allow for gesture control, and can individually configure the infotainment system when it detects the driver’s hand is moving toward the redesigned touchpad.
MBUX uses machine learning to offer functions to drivers – for example of a driver calls their mother at the same time every Tuesday, the system will offer the phone number for the driver to call.
The interior has been redesigned for a more minimalist look, with a series of rectangular air vents, slimline A/C cluster, the latest steering wheel design and a new centre console touchpad with haptic feedback that is flanked by a pair of grab handles.
Generous lashings of leather and wood are used in the car’s upholstery, while the longer wheelbase allows for greater interior space than its predecessor, with rear passengers treated to 69mm more legroom and 33m more headroom.
Luggage capacity stands at 825 litres, increasing to 2055L litres with the 40:20:40 split-fold rear seats folded. A seven-seat third-row option will also be available on the new GLE.
More information, including pricing and Australian specification, will be available closer to the vehicle’s launch next year.

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