After the unveiling of the GLE Coupé end of last year, now is the time for the non-coupé variant of the GLE to break cover. Essentially a facelifted M-Class, Mercedes-Benz has implemented the new naming convention to go along with the new look.
The front is shared with the GLE Coupé, featuring the prominent grille, twin power domes on the bonnet, and the optional LED Intelligent Light-System headlamps.
From the A-pillars onwards it’s the familiar M-class shape with its trademark C-pillar design, although the wheels are new as well as the graphics for the tail lamps and the rear bumper with integrated tailpipes.
As expected, the refreshed interior from the GLE Coupé has found its way here. We can see there’s a new steering wheel, a free-standing 7-inch display on the dashboard, and a COMAND controller with touchpad on the center console together with the DYNAMIC SELECT controller.
The GLE will be powered by a range of engines from four to eight cylinders. At launch, the base engine is the 2.1-litre 4-cylinder diesel in the GLE 250 d that churns out 204 hp and 480 Nm, followed by a 3.0-litre V6 diesel in the GLE 350 d with 258 hp and 620 Nm. Both of these diesel variants are paired to a nine-speed 9G-TRONIC automatic transmission as standard.
Then there’s a 3.0-litre V6 twin-turbo petrol in the GLE 400 with 333 hp and 480 Nm, and a 4.7-litre V8 twin-turbo in the GLE 500 with 435 hp and 700 Nm.
However, the main highlight is the GLE 500 e, the first plug-in hybrid SUV by Mercedes-Benz. Using a BlueDIRECT V6 direct-injection petrol engine with 333 hp and a hybrid module with 85 kW of electric power, it produces a total of 436 hp and 650 Nm of torque.
The electrical energy is stored in a 8.8 kWh lithium-ion battery, and it will take around two hours to get the battery fully charged. In E-MODE the GLE 500 e can travel up to 30 km at speeds up to at 130 km/h, while the fuel consumption is rated at just 3.3 L/100 km.
Depending on which model, the suspension setup can be customised via the DYNAMIC SELECT dynamic handling control system. There’s even an OFFROAD+ setting if the Off-Road Engineering package option is ticked, with the inclusion of the AIRMATIC air suspension raising the ground clearance up to 285 mm allowing it to tackle the dirty stuff.
New assistance systems such as Crosswind Assist and COLLISION PREVENTION ASSIST PLUS are part of the standard equipment, but other equipment packages are available as options.
The GLE will debut at the 2015 New York International Auto Show (NYIAS) in April.