The new Mercedes-Benz GLE has a wealth of innovations. For example, E-ACTIVE BODYÂ CONTROLÂ is a 48-volt activeÂ suspensionÂ system and a world first, while the driver assistance systems take another step forward with Active Stop-and-Go Assist. The interior is even more spacious and comfortable, with a thirdÂ seatÂ row available on request. The infotainment system has larger screens, a full-colour head-up display with a resolution of 720 x 240 pixels and the new MBUX Interior Assistant, which can recognize hand and arm movements and supports operating intentions. The exterior design not only exudes presence and power but also sets a new standard for aerodynamics in the SUV segment. The GLE will receive a new range of engines and the new 4MATIC system ensures great agility on the road and superior performance off the beaten track. The new Mercedes-Â BenzÂ GLE will celebrate its World Premiere at the ParisÂ MotorÂ Show in October 2018 and will go on sale in the U.S. in 2019.
“The new GLE is not only more comfortable than ever before on the road, but also shows its superior off-road character off the beaten track. This alone shows our determination to reinforce our claim to leadership in the SUV segment,” says Ola KÃ¤llenius, responsible for corporate research at Daimler AG and Mercedes-Benz Cars development. “Significantly more space in the interior, the newÂ controlÂ concept, considerably extended and refined driver assistance systems, the best aerodynamics in the segment, a completely new range of engines and numerous other innovations emphatically underline this.”
“The GLE exhibits iconic Mercedes-Benz design while remaining true to its character as an off-roader,” says Gorden Wagener, Chief Design Officer at Daimler AG. “With its design idiom, it perfectly embodies our design philosophy of sensual purity, thus representing modern luxury. The interior derives its fascination from the contrast between the luxurious and elegant design and the digital high-tech of our MBUX system.”
In 1997 Mercedes-Benz founded the premium SUV segment with the launch of the M-Class. Since fall of 2015, the model family has borne the name GLE, emphasizing its positioning as an SUV in the E-Class model family. At present Mercedes-Benz is highly successfully represented with seven models in the SUV segment (GLA, GLC, GLC Coupe, GLE, GLE Coupe, GLS, and G-Class). The new Mercedes-Benz GLE will be presented to the public for the first time at the Mondial de l’Automobil in Paris in October 2018. The GLE is produced in Tuscaloosa (Alabama/USA) and will go on sale in the U.S. in 2019.
The five most important innovations in the new GLE:
- E-ACTIVE BODYÂ CONTROL: Fully networked hydropneumatic, the activeÂ suspensionÂ on a 48-volt platform, for the first time in combination with a newly-developed airÂ suspension. This is the only system in the market where theÂ springÂ and damping forces can be individually controlled at eachÂ wheel. This means that it not only counteracts body roll, but also pitch and squat.
- Active Stop-and-Go Assist: This driver assistance system enables the GLE to recognize traffic jams at an early stage, actively supporting the driver in stop-and-go traffic up to approximately 37 mph.
- Turn-off function of ActiveÂ BrakeÂ Assist: activation of ActiveÂ BrakeÂ Assist with Cross-Traffic Assist when turning across the opposite lane. If there is a risk of collision when turning across the path of oncoming vehicles, the vehicle will be braked when travelling at low speeds.
- Fully-variable 4MATICÂ®: Available for the first time on the GLE, fully variable all-wheel driveÂ controlsÂ theÂ torqueÂ distribution between the front and rearÂ axleÂ from 0-100% depending on the selected driving mode.
- Seating comfort: The new GLE has a much longer wheelbase (+3.1 inches / 80 mm), with corresponding interior spaciousness. Comfort is particularly enhanced by the fully adjustable secondÂ seatÂ row, and a thirdÂ seatÂ row is also available as an option.
Exterior design: powerful presence
The aesthetic appeal of the GLE is based on the harmonious interaction between emotion and intelligence. This is characterized by timeless beauty, a combination of high-grade technology and craftsmanship and a focus on what is really important.
The design of the new GLE is defined by modern luxury both on and off the road. The vehicle’s proportions with a long wheelbase, short overhangs and large, flush-fittedÂ wheelsÂ already leave no doubt that it can handle any terrain. The GLE follows the design strategy of sensual purity and dispenses with individual edges in favour of generously modelled surfaces. The surfaces interact with precise graphic elements.
The front section of the GLE exudes presence and power: this is ensured by the uprightÂ radiatorÂ grille in an octagonal SUV interpretation, the prominent, chrome-plated under guard and theÂ hoodÂ with two power domes. This striking appearance is emphasized by the distinctive headlamp design by day and night.
The ULTRA Wide Beam of theÂ LEDÂ IntelligentÂ LightÂ System produces the maximumÂ lightÂ intensity permitted by law.
Viewed from the side, the wide C-pillar, typical of the GLE, conveys self- assuredÂ stability. The largeÂ wheelsÂ in sizes from 19 to 22 inches are housed inÂ wheelÂ arches with prominent liners. This underlines the GLE’s robust SUV character, as do the pillared roof rails and the optional Illuminated Running Boards. The chrome surrounds of theÂ windowsÂ are reminiscent of a premiumÂ sedan.
The GLE also cuts an athletic figure from the rear. This is emphasized by the powerful shoulder muscle extending from the C-pillar to the rearÂ lights. The reflectors are relocated lower than before, giving the rearÂ lightsÂ a more flattering appearance. They are also in two sections. This not only gives an impression of width, but also creates an unmistakable night design with illuminated blocks typical of Mercedes-Benz SUVs, in this case with backlit edgeÂ lighting. The rear is strikingly rounded off with the chrome-plated underguard.
Aerodynamics: detailed fine-tuning for theÂ bestÂ CdÂ figureÂ in thisÂ class
The new GLE has a Cd figure from 0.29, the best in its segment. This is also a significant improvement over the preceding model (Cd 0.32). The excellent aerodynamic properties make aÂ keyÂ contribution to low fuel consumption in everyday conditions. A host of details were optimized with numerous computation loops, CAE simulations (computer-aided engineering) and measurements in the wind tunnel in Sindelfingen.
The measures taken include:
- CoolingÂ airÂ controlÂ system behind theÂ radiatorÂ grille for need-related metering of the airflow (AIRPANEL)
- WheelÂ spoilers with aerodynamically optimized moldings ahead of the frontÂ wheels
- AdditionalÂ wheelÂ spoilers ahead of the rearÂ wheels
- Side spoilers with D-pillar seal on the tailgate
- RearÂ lightsÂ with special spoiler lips
- Large area of underbody and propshaft tunnel ppanelling flushÂ fuelÂ tankÂ cladding, aerodynamic cladding on the rearÂ axle, aerodynamically optimized diffuser lining.
- Aero-wheels with aerodynamically optimizedÂ tires.
Interior design: luxuriously elegant and powerfully progressive
The interior of the new GLE derives its fascination from the contrast between the luxurious, elegant ambience of a Mercedes-Benz luxuryÂ sedanÂ and the robust, progressive features of an SUV. The central element in the dashboard’s design is a sporty, stylish cockpit unit embedded in a strikingÂ dashboardÂ support. TheÂ dashboardÂ support flows into theÂ doorÂ panels, and the integral trim element also extends around the driver and front passenger to meet theÂ doors.
The prominent, raised center console creates a robust contrast with the free- floating appearance of theÂ dashboard. As a typical feature of off-roaders, there are two prominent grab handles on the center console. Apart from comfort and ergonomics, flowing surfaces create a modern, luxurious impression rounded off by a broad area of trim and flush-fitting roller blinds. All theÂ controlsÂ and displays are enhanced by the new design. TheÂ controlsÂ with haptic and audible feedback appear to have been milled from a solid metal block. Very fine chiseling shows the desire for perfection and craftsmanship. The new sportÂ steeringÂ wheelÂ with its striking, sculptured spoke design accentuates the impressive appearance of the SUV’s interior.
Interior: more space in the rear and an optional third rowÂ seat
A size larger: the new GLE has a considerably longer wheelbase than its predecessor (117.9 inches, +3.1 inches). This creates significantly more space, especially for passengers in the rear. Legroom in the secondÂ seatÂ row has increased by 2.7 inches to 41.1 inches. Headroom in the rear with the standard, fixed rearÂ seatÂ unit and 40:20:40 backrest division has increased by 1.3 inches to 40.4 inches. And because the A-pillar is more upright than before, spaciousness and entry comfort in the first row has been further improved.
On request, and as a world first in the SUV segment, a secondÂ seatÂ row with six fully electric adjustments is available. The right and leftÂ seatsÂ can be separately adjusted fore-and-aft by up to 3.9 inches, the backrests are adjustable for angle and foldable in a 40:20:40 ratio,and the head restraints are adjustable for height. In typical Mercedes fashion, the rearÂ seatÂ adjustments are controlled by aÂ switchÂ in theÂ doorÂ panel. The backrest can also be completely folded down electronically, using aÂ switchÂ in theÂ luggageÂ compartment.
Useful holders and protective elements have been specially developed asÂ accessoriesÂ for practical stowage of recreational equipment in the interior. In conjunction with the AIRMATIC airÂ suspension, the vehicle’s rear can be lowered by around 1.6 inches using aÂ switch, for easier loading and unloading.
Even more flexibility is possible with the optional, folding thirdÂ seatÂ row, which provides two extraÂ seats. Thanks to the EASY-ENTRYÂ® function of the fully electrically adjustable secondÂ seatÂ row, the two rearmost passengers can conveniently reach theirÂ seats.
SeatÂ kinetics is another innovation available for the frontÂ seatsÂ in conjunction with fully-electricÂ seatÂ adjustment with memory function.Â SeatÂ kinetics supports changes in the seating posture by means of minute movements of theÂ seatÂ cushion and backrest.
ENERGIZING Comfort: now with a guide
The optionally available ENERGIZING Comfort system networks various comfort systems in the vehicle, and uses musical andÂ lightingÂ moods plus a number of massage modes for a wide range of feel-good programs.
The ENERGIZING COACH is a new feature. This function, based on an intelligent algorithm, recommends one of the programs depending on the situation and individual. If aÂ GarminÂ® wearable is worn, personal values such as stress level or quality of sleep optimize the accuracy of the recommendation. The aim is for passengers to feel well and relaxed even during demanding or monotonous journeys.
MBUX: now with an intelligent interior assistant
The GLE is equipped with the latest generation of the multimedia system MBUX – Mercedes-Benz User Experience. The revolutionary system includes two large 12.3â screens as standard, which are arranged in-line with each other for an impressive widescreen look. The information of theÂ InstrumentÂ ClusterÂ Display and the multimedia display is easily legible on the large, high- resolution screens. Showcasing elements in an emotionally appealing manner underlines the comprehensibility of the intuitiveÂ controlÂ structure and impresses with brilliant graphics.
Depending on mood or to suit the chosen interior, the user has a choice of four different styles:
- Classic is a further development of the classic display style in an elegant andÂ lightÂ material mix.
- Sport has a high-tech turbine look with decidedly sporty black/yellow contrasts.
- Progressive presents digitalism in reduced form.
- In the Understated (Discreet) style, all displays are reduced to only what is absolutely necessary.
The optional MBUX Interior Assistant also allows intuitive, natural operation of different comfort and MBUX functions by movement recognition. AÂ cameraÂ in the overhead console registers movements of the driver’s and front passenger’s hands and arms. When a hand approaches the touchscreen or the Touchpad on the center console, the media display changes and individual, elements are highlighted. The system is able to distinguish the driver’s hand from that of the front passenger, and therefore knows whichÂ seatÂ the massage function is to be activated on, for example.
In addition, there are functions that can be controlled by simple hand gestures: the readingÂ lampÂ can be switched on and off by extending a hand towards theÂ rearview mirror, for example. The driver and front passenger can both program a personal, favorite function which is initiated using a horizontally outstretched index and middle finger
General operation of the multimedia system has been improved in numerous respects. For example, the settings menus are in a new design and the initial setup assistant has been improved. The 40 or so new MBUX functions in the GLE include, for example:
- Support for off-road specific driving modes (free-driving mode and individualÂ wheelÂ actuation)
- Extended off-road displays in theÂ instrument clusterÂ display and Head- Up Display (linear and lateral inclination,Â TorqueÂ on Demand,Â suspensionÂ level)
- The setting for the full-screen map in theÂ instrument clusterÂ can be changed directly there
- ENERGIZING COACH
- Automatic driver’sÂ seatÂ adjustment: if the body size is entered, theÂ seatÂ automatically moves to a usually suitable position
A unique feature of MBUX – Mercedes-Benz User Experience is its learning capability thanks to artificial intelligence. With its predictive functions, MBUX anticipates what the user would like next. For instance, anyone who oftenÂ phonesÂ their mother on Tuesdays during their commute home will receive her contact as a suggestion in the display on this day of the week on their way home. Anyone who regularlyÂ switchesÂ over to aÂ radioÂ station with news at a certain time also receives this as a suggestion.
Other strengths include touchscreenÂ controlÂ of the multimedia display as standard, and the use of augmented reality technology for the navigation display: a video image of the surroundings is enhanced with helpful navigation information, for example directional arrows or house numbers are automatically superimposed directly onto the image in the multimedia display. This makes it easier for the driver to search for a certain house number, or to find the correct road for a next turn. The intelligent VoiceÂ ControlÂ has also been improved with Natural Langauge Understanding, and is activated by the keyword “Hey Mercedes.”
The optional Head-Up Display with a resolution of 720 x 240 pixels and extended projection distance also sets new standards. Important information is projected into theÂ windscreen, reducing distraction from the traffic situation. There is also less eye fatigue for the driver, as the eyes do not constantly have to refocus between close-up and long-distance vision. A system of lenses andÂ mirrorsÂ projects a full-color image measuring around 17.8 x 5.9 inches (45 x 15 centimeters) into theÂ windscreen. To the driver it appears to float above theÂ hoodÂ at a distance of around 10 feet. Now more than twice the size, the virtual image is 20 percent brighter for better legibility in bright conditions and has space for further information about the currentÂ audioÂ source, the currentÂ phoneÂ call and the reception andÂ batteryÂ status of the connectedÂ phone. In addition it shows the arrival time and distance to destination if route guidance is active. The driver is able to select the information considered relevant, including additional off-road content such as vehicle inclination,Â torqueÂ distribution and acceleration forces.
Powertrains for the new GLE
The new Mercedes-Benz GLE will be launched with a variety ofÂ engineÂ offerings for the U.S., including a 2.0L Inline-4Â turboÂ engineÂ for the GLE 350 and GLE 350 4MATIC that produces 255 hp and 273 lb-ft ofÂ torque. The new 3.0L inline six-cylinderÂ turboÂ engineÂ with EQÂ BoostÂ in the GLE 450 4MATIC produces 362 hp and 369 lb-ft ofÂ torqueÂ and is systematically electrified with 48-volt technology. The Integrated-Starter Generator (ISG) is responsible for functions such as EQÂ BoostÂ and energy recuperation, while allowing fuelÂ savingsÂ that were previously reserved for high-voltage hybrid technology.
ISG eliminates the need for aÂ beltÂ drive for ancillary components at the front of theÂ engine, which reduces its overall length as well as reduces the wearÂ partsÂ of theÂ engine. The slim design, together with the physical separation of intake/exhaust, creates space for near-engineÂ exhaustÂ after treatment. The 48- volt on-board power supply serves not only high power consumers such as theÂ water pumpÂ and air-conditioningÂ compressor,but also the Integrated-Starter Generator (ISG), which also supplies energy to theÂ batteryÂ by means of highly efficient energy recuperation.
4MATIC all-wheel drive: agile on the road, superior when off-road
In all variants of the new GLE, power is transmitted by a 9G-TRONIC 9-speed automaticÂ transmission. The broad ratio spread ofÂ gearsÂ one to nine allows a clearly perceptible reduction inÂ engineÂ speed and is a decisive factor behind the high level of energy efficiency and ride comfort. With the four-cylinderÂ engineÂ in the new GLE 350, 4MATIC all-wheel drive is realized with a transfer case which transmits the driveÂ torqueÂ to theÂ axlesÂ in a fixed ratio of 50:50 percent. SpinningÂ wheelsÂ are addressed by braking intervention at the relevantÂ wheel.
A transfer case with an electronically controlled multi-discÂ clutchÂ is used for the other engines, including the GLE 450. This allows a variable transfer of driveÂ torqueÂ from 0-100% (torqueÂ on demand) between theÂ axles.
Also when driving on the road, and particularly when cornering, the two fully networkedÂ transfer casesÂ withÂ torqueÂ on demand allow a further improvement in handlingÂ safetyÂ and agility by specifically influencing the degree of yaw to induce oversteer or understeer.
Driver assistance systems: superior support in traffic jams
The new GLE marks the debut of the latest generation of Mercedes-Benz driver assistance systems giving cooperative support to the driver. The level of activeÂ safetyÂ has not only been improved further compared to the preceding model, as some Intelligent Drive functions are also unrivalled beyond the SUV segment.
High-mileage drivers aren’t the only ones familiar with this tricky situation on highways: on rounding a bend, the end of a traffic jam suddenly appears. This is where the new GLE assists the driver, as traffic management on highways now already begins in advance, including assistance in stop-and-go traffic and after the traffic has dissolved.
This is because when Active Distance Assist DISTRONICÂ®, working with Route-Based Speed Adaptation, is activated, the new GLE is able to recognize and respond to traffic jams or slow-moving traffic with the help of information from LiveTraffic before the driver becomes aware of the hazard. When a traffic jam is recognized (and if the driver does not choose a different response), Active Distance Assist DISTRONIC reduces the speed to around 60 mph as a precaution. This gives ActiveÂ BrakeÂ Assist with Cross-Traffic Funtion the ability toÂ brakeÂ the vehicle to a standstill in good time when the end of a traffic jam is recognized.
When actually driving in traffic, Active Stop-and-Go Assist can markedly reduce the driver’s workload: where there are lane markings, the system is substantially able to perform the tasks of keeping in lane and maintaining a safe distance with a high level of availability at speeds up to around 37 mph. Moving again after being stopped can be automatic up to one minute after coming to a stop.
Once the traffic jam dissolves, the GLE will accelerate back up to the speed preset for Active Distance Assist DISTRONICÂ®. If the driver has not set a specific speed, then this will be the recommended highway speed.
To recognize traffic jams, Active Stop-and-Go Assist evaluates the road category, speed, and distances from vehicles travelling ahead and in adjacent lanes. In addition to theÂ stereoÂ multipurposeÂ cameraÂ (SMPC) and long-range radar, it uses the front multi-mode corner radarÂ sensorsÂ to recognize vehicles that are cutting in. If ActiveÂ SteeringÂ Assist and Active Distance Assist DISTRONIC are activated, Active Stop-and-Go Assist is switched on automatically when highway traffic is recognized. This is indicated by “Stop- and-Go Assist active” in theÂ instrument cluster. As soon as Active Stop-and-Go Assist is active and the vehicle is moving in traffic, a traffic jam symbol is added to the “greenÂ steeringÂ wheel” symbol of ActiveÂ SteeringAssist in theÂ instrument cluster.
Always ready to help: numerous other assistants are available
It is not only by giving driver support in traffic that the new GLE further expands Mercedes-Benz Intelligent Drive and takes another major step towards autonomous driving. Active Distance Assist DISTRONICÂ® and ActiveÂ SteeringÂ Assist now provide even more comfortable support for the driver to keep a safe distance and properly steer. The speed is now adjusted automatically ahead of bends or junctions by Route-Based Speed Adaptation. This is complemented by EvasiveÂ SteeringÂ Assist, a considerably improved Active Lane Keeping Assist and also the additional functions of the Active Emergency Stop Assist.
The turning function of ActiveÂ BrakeÂ Assist with Cross-Traffic Function is completely new: If there is a danger of a collision with oncoming traffic when turning, the GLE can be braked at the speeds typical of such maneuvers.
Braking intervention takes place if the driver signals the intention to turn (indicators) and the vehicle can be braked to a stop before crossing theÂ lane marking. Oncoming vehicles are recognized by the front long-range radarÂ sensorÂ and theÂ stereoÂ multipurposeÂ camera.
In addition, the new GLE is equipped with Active Blind Spot Assist with an added Exit Warning Assist. This function can lower the risk of a collision with other road users, such passing cyclists. Active Blind Spot Assist monitors the blind spot when at standstill, and can warn the driver of approaching vehicles,Â motorcyclesÂ or bicycles when opening theÂ door. This function is active for up to three minutes after switching off theÂ engine. The warning appears in the exteriorÂ mirrorsÂ and is given audibly via theÂ instrument cluster.
E-ACTIVE BODYÂ CONTROL: the 48VÂ suspension
Even better ride comfort and agility plus completely new functions such as free-driving mode are provided by the optional E-ACTIVE BODYÂ CONTROLsuspension, which is now combined with the newly developed AIRMATIC airÂ suspension. This is the only system in the market where theÂ springÂ and damping forces can be individually controlled at eachÂ wheel. This means that it not only counteracts body roll but also pitching and squat. Together with Road Surface Scan and the curve inclination function, E-ACTIVE BODYÂ CONTROLÂ is the world’s most intelligent SUVÂ suspensionÂ and makes an extraordinary level of comfort possible.
E-ACTIVE BODYÂ CONTROL, developed in-house by Mercedes-Benz, has a 48V operating voltage and is optionally available forÂ engineÂ variants with the 48V system. On poor road surfaces, the system is even able to recuperate energy, roughly halving the energy requirement compared to the preceding system in the S-Class. The hydropneumatic generate dynamic forces that overlay the airÂ suspensionÂ forces and actively support and dampen the vehicle body during linear and lateral acceleration or when driving on uneven roads.
Free-driving mode is a completely new off-road function: if the GLE has become bogged down in a sand dune, for example, this can help to free the vehicle more easily. If possible theÂ suspensionÂ level is quickly and automatically raised and lowered several times, which changes the ground pressure of theÂ tiresÂ and therefore improvesÂ tractionÂ â the GLE then rocks itself free.
IndividualÂ wheelÂ actuation is another new function for off-road driving. This allows the level at eachÂ wheelÂ to be individually adjusted via the touchscreen of the multimedia display, thus improving the vehicle’s attitude on rough terrain when oneÂ wheelÂ is stuck in a ditch or aÂ wheelÂ springÂ is fully contracted.
E-ACTIVE BODYÂ CONTROLÂ in the GLE also has the curve inclination function. Like aÂ motorcycle, the GLE leans into bends and thereby allows cornering in three stages with practically no centrifugal force. If the GLE is equipped with aÂ stereoÂ multipurposeÂ camera, Road Surface Scan becomes possible where aÂ cameraÂ continuously scans the road surface, and theÂ suspensionÂ responds in advance to any undulations before the vehicle drives over them.
In addition to E-ACTIVE BODYÂ CONTROL, a newly developed steelÂ suspensionÂ and a newly developed AIRMATICÂ suspensionÂ with the Adaptive Damping System Plus (ADS+) are available.
The new Mercedes-Benz GLE will celebrate its World Premiere at Mondial l’Automobile in Paris in October 2018 and will go on sale in the U.S. in 2019.