The Mercedes-Benz GLE has been revealed and will reach UK dealerships in September.
What is it?
The GLE was formerly known as the M-Class. It's the larger sibling to Mercedes' GLE Coupe, which was revealed at the Los Angeles motor show last year.
The new SUV uses many of the same styling cues as the GLE Coupe, including Mercedes’ family front-end styling. The GLE gets a more boxy appearance than its stylised sibling, however, and includes roof rails and dual exhausts integrated into the rear bumper. LED lights feature at both ends.
The GLE will become a key model for Mercedes-Benz in Europe, helping the firm to cash in on the increasingly profitable SUV market.
What engines can I choose from? Perhaps most significant is the new GLE500e 4Matic. The first plug-in hybrid SUV in Mercedes-Benz history, the GLE500e 4Matic features a 328bhp/354lb ft 3.0-litre twin-turbocharged V6 engine working in conjunction with a single electric motor, which produces an extra 114bhp.
Altogether, the hybrid GLE comes with 436bhp and 479lb ft of torque, and can travel around 18 miles on electric power alone at speeds of up to 80mph. Drive is sent to all four wheels through a transmission based on the older 7G-Tronic unit.
The GLE hybrid can be charged from either from a wall-mounted box charger or a conventional power output. Charging from a wall box takes around two hours.
Other engine options include a 201bhp 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel in the GLE 250d, which Mercedes says returns up to 52.3mpg with CO2 emissions of 140g/km.
Also available in the GLE 350d is a 254bhp 3.0-litre V6 diesel. Producing 457lb ft of torque, the unit returns up to 44.1mpg with CO2 emissions of 169g/km.
Mercedes says that fuel economy and CO2 emissions have improved by 17% across the range. All diesel GLE models will come with Mercedes’ nine-speed automatic transmission as standard.
The high-performance GLE63 S, meanwhile, gets 577bhp from its 5.5-litre twin-turbocharged V8 engine.
How much equipment does it come with?
Inside, Mercedes as given the GLE the same 7.0in free-standing infotainment screen already in use across its range. Also featuring is the firm’s touch-sensitive controller, mounted on the centre console.
While the GLE’s cabin will be familiar to current Mercedes-Benz owners, the company says there’s a wider choice of interior colours and trim materials, which include wood and carbonfibre.
The optional AMG Line specification adds extra interior luxury, with Artico leather upholstery and a new leather multifunction sports steering wheel, while exterior modifications include reprofiled front and rear bumpers and 20-inch alloys.
Other options include Mercedes’ Airmatic suspension and the AMG Ride Control system, as well as numerous technology upgrade packages.
Additionally, the hybrid comes with a unique controller to govern its four available driving modes. E-Mode offers all-electric driving while E-Save preserves the current state of charge and Charge mode focuses on topping up the battery. Hybrid mode provides the best overall balance between the engine and the electric motor.
How much will it cost? Mercedes has yet to reveal official pricing for the GLE, but expect the SUV to command a significant premium over the current M-Class, which starts at £48,190 and rises to £86,995 for the ML63 AMG. That means the GLE range is likely to start at around £50,000.
How good are its rivals?
Chief rivals for the new GLE include established large SUVs like BMW's X5, as well as the Porsche Cayenne and Range Rover Sport. The Range Rover Sport currently holds a What Car? five-star rating while the BMW X5 has a four-star rating. The Porsche Cayenne has three stars, a rating shared with the outgoing Mercedes M-Class.