Mercedes-Benz chose the Paris Motor Show to unveil the most important SUV in its line-up, the GLE.
Not in its fourth generation, the GLE features a host of technical innovations and a new exterior that exudes power and elegance.
The big news is the all-new E-Active Body Control, which is a world-first in this particular segment. It’s basically a fully networked hydropneumatic, active suspension on a 48-volt system that works in combination with the newly developed air suspension. This allows the spring and damping forces to be individually controlled at each wheel, which means greater body control.
Mercedes’ 4Matic all-wheel drive system will be available across the range, including six and eight cylinder models, as well as an upcoming plug-in hybrid. On this new 4Matic system, the torque can be transferred between the front and rear axle from 0 to 100%, depending on the selected driving mode. There will also be an optional off-road package, which includes low range. As we saw on the all-new X5 earlier this year, the German manufacturers are taking off-road ability rather seriously with their new luxury SUVs.
On the inside the GLE aims to combine the elegance of a Mercedes saloon with the ruggedness of an SUV. There are large grab handles just below the centre console, while the traditional dash and instrument binnacle have been dropped in favour of large, high definition touch screens.
It has a considerably longer wheelbase than its predecessor (2995 millimetres, plus 80 mm). This creates more space, especially for passengers in the rear. Legroom in the second seat row has increased by 69 millimetres to 1045 millimetres. Headroom in the rear with the standard, fixed rear seat unit and 40:20:40 backrest division has increased by 33 millimetres to 1025 millimetres.
The luggage capacity is up to 825 litres behind the rear seats, and up to 2055 litres when the second seat row is folded down.
It will be launched with a new in-line six-cylinder petrol engine, and other engines including diesels and a plug-in hybrid will follow.
The Mercedes-Benz GLE 450 4MATIC as the first petrol model is powered by a six-cylinder engine systematically electrified with 48-volt technology.
It delivers 270kW and 500Nm of torque, with a further 250Nm of torque and 16kW available via an EQ boost function over short periods.
All variants of the GLE will use Merc’s 9G-Tronic automatic transmission.
As is to be expected these days, the GLE features a number of advanced driving assistance systems. Active Distance Assist Distronic and Active Steering Assist now provide even more comfortable support for the driver to keep a safe distance and steer. The speed is now adjusted automatically ahead of bends or junctions. This is complemented by Evasive Steering Assist, a considerably improved Active Lane Keeping Assist and also the additional functions of the Active Emergency Stop Assist.
No release date has been set for South Africa, but the first European cars are set to arrive early in 2019.