Initial specs being discussed suggest it’ll be a heavy-hitter.
Mercedes-Benz, the quintessential German luxury carmaker, has been on a spree renewing its G-badged models, with the mac-daddy G-Class getting a second-generation early this year after 40-years on the road. Later this year we expect to see a new GLS- and GLA-Class, which bookends the marque’s SUV range leaving just the relatively-new GLC, and the ageing GLE.
It’s that old fart that we’re focused on here. The GLE, the SUV formerly known as the ML-Class, has been with us since the 90s and has steadily evolved since then. Where it used to be a proper off-roader with a posh interior and liveable on-road character, the second-generation saw the ML mould into a competent on-roader will less care about the rough-stuff. However, despite repeated facelifts and a name change to put it in line with the rest of the Merc SUV lineup, it’s feeling its age.
A new generation GLE is important for the brand. While the GLA and GLC have brought plenty of new buyers to the brand, the GLE’s mid-size proposition puts it in a very profitable place in the segment. Notable competitors include the Volvo XC90 and Jaguar F-Pace, both cars that have revitalised their respective brands and catapulted them to new heights. Mercedes knows how critical a player here is, and so the next-generation car is expected to get all of the marque’s knowhow to put it ahead of the pack.
The 2019 GLE will be built off of Merc’s MRA platform, which presently underpins the E-Class and CLS-Class four-doors. This is expected to result in an increase in wheelbase and a drop in weight, which will then be clad in an exterior that is more athletic and more aggressive than the outgoing car. Multibeam LED headlights are expected to be a highlight feature, with a design inspired by the CLS.
The profile of the GLE is expected to carry an evolution of the glasshouse design present on the existing car, though a more raked rear tailgate will give it a more athletic stance. Sleek taillights and flared wheelarches will emphasise the increased track of the GLE, which will again highlight the newfound agility and performance on offer with the new generation.
Perhaps more important is the cabin, where most owners will be spending their time. The design inside is expected to be in line with the very latest interiors from Mercedes-Benz, so we’re thinking an E-Class interior with some changes. Among those changes will be the air vents, which have been shown to be of a rounded-square design rather than four circular units. There will be the inclusion of dual 12.3-inch screens acting as instrumentation and infotainment displays, powered by the brands’ new MBUX operating system, which should offer features like (truly) intelligent voice control, touchpad input, and polished graphics.
Intelligence won’t stop there, though. Use of the MRA platform means the new-GLE can offer a variety of advanced driver assistance systems that are presently on offer on Mercedes-Benz’s other cars. Expect to see things like a semi-autonomous driving system that’ll take the stress out of motorway driving (they call it Drive Pilot), adaptive cruise control, autonomous emergency braking, and collision mitigation. There’s also suggestion that Remote Parking Pilot may feature here, which will allow GLE drivers to park their cars using their smartphones in tight spaces, while standing outside the vehicle.
Motivation for the GLE will come from the E-Class and CLS-Class lineup, with turbo-4 and turbo-6 power plants running petrol & diesel expected. Mercedes’ new inline-6 engines will take the place of the old V6 of similar displacement. All powertrains are likely to feature the 48V mild-hybrid setup that the brand has been touting of late, with a drivetrain similar to the CLS450 expected (100km/h hit in just 4.8-seconds, with 7.5L/100km claimed combined fuel consumption, in the CLS of course).
The 2019 Mercedes-Benz GLE is expected to make its debut sometime later this year, with some quarters suggesting the Paris motor show could be a potential venue. However, considering that the German marque is set to debut a new GLA and a new GLS this year, it’s possible that the GLE might be pushed back, with this writer feeling a bit more confident about a possible Q1 2019 reveal. We’ll have to wait and see.