Mercedes-Benz GLE Gets New PHEV Powertrain, Fresh Look
Versatile: the Mercedes-Benz GLE and its sporty offshoot, the GLE Coupé, are just as suitable for families and leisure time as they are for long-distance journeys and transporting loads. 4MATIC, which comes as standard in Europe, ensures that you can get through even in poor traction conditions or off-road terrain on gradients of up to 100 percent. A towing load of up to 3.5 tonnes makes it possible to pull a horse trailer, a valuable classic car or a larger caravan.
Mercedes-Benz has now updated the exterior, interior, technology and equipment of the model generation launched in 2018. The updated models will reach dealers in Europe from July 2023. The engine range is now electrified throughout. It includes mild hybrids with a 48-volt system and Integrated Starter Generator (ISG) as well as fourth-generation plug-in hybrids. Most models now have more power than the previous versions. The biggest is the increase with 30 kW on the GLE 400 e 4MATIC.
The Driving Assistance Package contains further improved specific functions, for example for the Active Distance Assist DISTRONIC, Active Steering Assist and Traffic Sign Assist. The Parking Package with 360°camera3 supports the driver when manoeuvring into and out of parallel and perpendicular parking spaces. Another new feature is the “transparent bonnet” function. If the off-road drive program is switched on, the central display shows a virtual view under the front of the vehicle – helping to make this noticeably easier in steep terrain. Helpful features for towing include the Trailer Manoeuvring Assist, the updated Trailer menu in the central display and the Trailer route planner. It can be used to find optimised routes when travelling with a trailer.
The GLE’s lineage began with the M-Class. With it, Mercedes-Benz established the premium SUV segment in 1997. The global success continued with the GLE launched in 2015. The current model series followed in 2018. The GLE and GLE Coupé are produced at the Tuscaloosa Mercedes-Benz plant (USA).
Equipment: designed for off-road use and towing a trailer
Most drivers of a GLE only travel on paved roads or in easy to moderately difficult off-road terrain. Mercedes‑Benz has therefore recompiled the scope of the Off-Road Engineering Package in order to be able to offer it at a much lower price for the purely combustion-engined models of the GLE. Components include an underride guard and, in combination with AIRMATIC air suspension (optional extra), 30 millimetres more ground clearance.
The “Off-Road Mode” in the current MBUX generation turns special content such as gradient, roll angle, compass and steering angle into a visual experience. In conjunction with the optional Parking Package with 360° camera, it offers the “transparent bonnet” function. When the Off-Road Mode is active, the central display shows a virtual view under the front of the vehicle, including the front wheels and their steering position. The view is composed of the images from the 360° camera. The “transparent bonnet” is extremely helpful: it enables the driver to better recognise obstacles such as large stones or deep potholes in his/her path. This function also offers advantages when driving over ramps or crests.
The GLE pulls off even more: all-wheel drive and a gear ratio designed for traction enable a high towing capacity of up to 3.5 tonnes and a tongue weight of up to 140 kg. The fully electric trailer coupling is particularly convenient: via a button in the tailgate or a panel on the central display, the ball neck together with the socket for the trailer electrics is swung out from under the car at the touch of a button and automatically fixed in the operating position. After use, it retracts back into its rest position behind the bumper equally effortlessly. A special feature is also provided for those who do not use the coupling to tow a trailer, but to carry bicycles for example: the trailer coupling has two extra bolts on the ball neck to carry a suitable cycle rack safely. Its load capacity is 100 kg – this means that e-bikes can also be taken along.
New to the GLE and GLE Coupé is the Trailer route planner for the navigation system: on the central display, the occupants can plan routes that are suitable for driving with the previously defined trailer and do not involve large diversions or loss of time. Among other things, widths and heights of the route as well as weight restrictions are taken into account. The trailer is defined via the Trailer menu in MBUX. This automatically appears as soon as a trailer is electrically connected to the vehicle. Customers can choose between bicycle racks and two trailer sizes. They can also set the speed – in Germany, for example, 80 or 100 km/h. The Trailer route planner takes this information into account. Particularly convenient: the Traffic Sign Assist only displays speeds permitted for the car/trailer combination. And if DISTRONIC and Active Speed Limit Assist are activated, the vehicle now accelerates only up to the relevant speed limit.
The extended Trailer Manoeuvring Assist now works via a camera-based system and is thus also suitable for trailers with their own stabilisation device against rolling movements. In addition, the assist system makes manoeuvring with a trailer even easier, and is more convenient and safer. The system automatically regulates the steering angle of the towing vehicle up to a speed of 5 km/h and an uphill gradient of up to 15 percent. It is also integrated into MBUX and can be operated intuitively via the touchscreen. In addition to stabilising the combination when reversing, the system can also guide it around freely selectable bends of up to 90 degrees. The steering of the towing vehicle is operated automatically so that the selected angle is maintained. This allows more precise positioning of a trailer.
Drivers can also select a corresponding function once the trailer has reached the desired direction and needs to reverse in a straight line. The entire manoeuvring process can be followed from different camera perspectives on the central display. Dynamic guide lines show the path ahead and the vehicle width. The system must be briefly trained. However, no markings on the trailer are necessary for the visual measurement of the drawbar length. Trailer Manoeuvring Assist is an optional extra and can also be unlocked as an “Over the Air” (OTA) update after purchasing the GLE.
Thanks to improved surround sensors, the parking systems give the driver even better support when manoeuvring. Integrated into MBUX, they can be operated more intuitively and quickly. Unlike in the predecessor model, Active Steering Assist now remains activated in towing mode. The system helps the driver to stay in lane automatically, even when cornering slightly.
Exterior design: new daytime running light signets
A number of detailed changes to the exterior give the GLE SUV and GLE Coupé a distinctly more modern appearance. The new front bumper provides more visual presence. Two horizontal louvres with chrome inserts run through the radiator grille of the GLE. The grille of the outer air intakes has been given a horizontal chrome fin.
The so-called light flare in the headlamps is characteristic of Mercedes-Benz. With the standard LED High‑Performance headlamps, two light points complement the distinctive daytime running light signet, while with the optional MULTIBEAM LED there are four light points. The designers have also revised the interior of the tail lights: on the GLE, the light signet is formed by two horizontal blocks, on the GLE Coupé it is two bars.
The AMG Line exterior is now standard on the GLE Coupé. Elements of this line include the diamond grille with Mercedes-Benz pattern in chrome, the AMG front apron with chrome trim element, AMG side sill panels and wheel arch cladding in the vehicle colour, as well as the AMG rear apron with diffuser-look insert.
Fresh additions to the colour palette of these two SUVs are sodalite blue metallic and MANUFAKTUR alpine grey solid. Two aerodynamically optimised light-alloy wheels in 19- and 20-inch sizes complete the line-up of choices for the GLE. They feature a high-sheen finish and a five-twin-spoke design. The AMG Line exterior also features a new 21-inch wheel design. The ambient lighting with animated projection of the Mercedes-Benz pattern is available as a new optional extra.
Interior: with fine details from the Mercedes-Maybach GLS and Mercedes S-Class
New on board the GLE and GLE Coupé is the latest-generation steering wheel with sensor surfaces on the horizontal spokes. With these touch elements on the right and left, the driver can operate the driver and central displays from the steering wheel.
A special eye-catching feature in the interior is the chrome look of the centre and side air vents. Previously they were edged in black, but now the slats are galvanised in real metal, as in the Mercedes-Maybach GLS. For the interior colours, the equipment combinations catalana beige/black (GLE SUV) and bahia brown/black (GLE SUV and GLE Coupé) have been added. The black/classic red appointments available exclusively for the coupé and in combination with AMG Line are particularly sporty.
The trim range continues to be broadly diversified between classic and progressive. Familiar from the Mercedes-Maybach GLS and now also available for the GLE SUV and GLE Coupé is the “MANUFAKTUR piano lacquer black flowing lines” trim. If black appointments are selected, the seats are available in a nappa leather finish. With ambient lighting, the same colours and colour palettes can be selected as in the S-Class. Two USB ports (optional extra) delivering 100 W of power are available in the rear armrest as practical charging options.
The premium audio system Burmester surround sound system which now also features the personal sound setup as well as the Dolby Atmos immersive audio experience. With the “Online Music” service5, Mercedes‑Benz has comprehensively integrated many music streaming providers into the MBUX infotainment system. 13 speakers, 13 separate amplifier channels and a system output of 590 watts are further features of the Burmester surround sound system.
Newly available as an optional extra is ENERGIZING AIR CONTROL. The system monitors air quality using air quality and fine particle sensors. A two-stage filter concept reduces fine particles and a large proportion of other pollutant components. Depending on the measurement value, the vehicle intelligently switches between fresh air and air-recirculation modes.
Latest generation of MBUX: intuitively operated and capable of learning
With the second generation of the MBUX (Mercedes-Benz User Experience) infotainment system, the GLE and GLE Coupé are now also up to date. The vehicle interior becomes even more digital and intelligent, as both the hardware and software have made great strides: numerous vehicle and comfort functions can be controlled on the LCD screens in brilliant display views. The sizes of the driver and central displays, each measuring 12.3 inches, have been retained. The central display can be operated directly and conveniently as a touchscreen. Apple Car Play and Android Auto are now available wirelessly.
The driver and central displays offer a holistic, aesthetic experience. They present information in a structured and clearly defined way. The appearance can be individualised with a total of three display styles (classic, sporty, discreet) and four modes (navigation, assistance, service, off-road).
Hey Mercedes: the increasingly sharp voice assistant
The voice assistant “Hey Mercedes” becomes more interactive and capable of learning by activating online services in the Mercedes me App. Moreover, occupants can trigger certain actions even without the activation keyword “Hey Mercedes”. These include taking a telephone call, for example. Hey Mercedes also explains vehicle functions on hearing the “Help” command, and provides assistance when asked how to connect a smartphone by Bluetooth or where the first-aid kit can be found, for example. Hey Mercedes even recognises the position of the occupants. In addition, other vehicle functions such as the interior lighting or the blinds can now be controlled by voice command.
Smart Home: operating comfort from a distance
With the MBUX Smart Home function the GLE SUV and GLE Coupé become a mobile control centre for the home. Because Smart Home refers to WLAN, sensors and actuators making the home increasingly intelligent and communicative: temperature and lights, shutters and electrical appliances can be remotely monitored and controlled. Motion detectors and window contacts inform the user of welcome or unwelcome visitors.
“Hey Mercedes, is there anybody in my home right now?” “I checked. The last movement detected was in the kitchen one hour ago.” This allows conversations to take place between the occupants and the Smart Home via the MBUX (Mercedes-Benz User Experience) Voice Assistant. The MBUX Smart Home function supports numerous devices from major Smart Home providers. You can address lamps, sockets, thermostats, shutters and blinds, motion detectors and door or window contacts, as well as temperature sensors. In this way, Smart Home integration into MBUX can help to reduce home energy consumption.
“Over-the-air” (OTA) updates: the latest software
As soon as a new software update for the GLE or GLE Coupé becomes available from Mercedes-Benz, a message appears in MBUX. The update is downloaded and installed in the background. The user must then explicitly agree again to the activation of the update. New features can also be uploaded to already sold vehicles by over-the-air updates. To transfer the data, Mercedes-Benz relies on mobile communications technology and the communication module installed in the vehicle due to the high security standard.
Vehicle users can also enhance their user experience by adding new functions in the Mercedes me Store, such as music streaming services or In-Car-Office. Subscription services can also be renewed or newly added directly online via the Mercedes me Store.
Powertrain: systematic electrification
Thanks to mild hybrids with 48-volt technology and the Integrated Starter Generator as well as plug-in hybrids, the GLE SUV and GLE Coupé are now electrified throughout. The plug-in hybrids have been upgraded to the latest, fourth generation.
The plug-in hybrids have a permanently excited 100 kW synchronous machine and offer a system output of up to 280 kW as well as a system torque of up to 750 Nm. With slightly increased electric ranges of up to 109 kilometres7 according to WLTP, most everyday journeys can be covered purely electrically. The improved hybrid drive program provides the electric driving mode for the most appropriate sections of the route. On routes in urban areas, for example, the GLE prioritises electric driving.
Thanks to an Off-Road drive program, the plug-in hybrids can now also drive electrically in off-road terrain.
An 11 kW charger is now on board the plug-in hybrid models for charging from the domestic AC mains or the three-phase wallbox. In addition, an optional 60 kW DC fast charger is available on request.
Most models now have more power than the previous versions. The biggest is the increase with 30 kW on the GLE 400 e 4MATIC.
The model range9 in Europe (plug-in hybrids):
|GLE 400 e 4MATIC
|GLE 350 de 4MATIC
|Rated output, combustion engine
|Rated torque, combustion engine
|Rated output, electric motor
|Rated torque, electric motor
|Capacity of high-voltage battery
|Acceleration 0-100 km/h
|Combined fuel consumption, weighted (WLTP)
|Combined power consumption, weighted (WLTP)
|Combined CO2 emissions, weighted (WLTP)
|Electric range (EAER, WLTP)