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New Mercedes GLE brings EQ Boost to the 4x4

Published: 11 September 2018

► 2018 Mercedes GLE SUV
► SUV has clever suspension
► Plus EQ Boost engines & trick tech

Attention school runners, get in line for the latest in suburban SUV prowling: this is the new Mercedes GLE SUV.

The new GLE is Merc’s updated rival to the BMW X5, Audi Q7 and Range Rover Sport and it’s not just a slightly warmed-up version of the previous-generation car like before; Mercedes has gone over it’s seven-seat SUV offering with a fine-toothed comb.

Here’s all we know so far on the new posh SUV from Stuttgart.

Yeesh, it’s still not a looker, is it?

At least it’s not a lightly-tweaked ML like the last one but, yes, it looks like a pitbull chewing on a horseshoe.

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There’s a lot of rounder, smoother surfacing than before, but it still looks like an SUV we’re used to: thick black body cladding and silver partitions in the grille reminiscent of any other GL model. Side steps and (fake) sporty exhausts complete the look further around.

Tell me about the new GLE’s engine and performance

The only engine Mercedes has currently pointed our attention to is the new GLE 450, which uses the brand’s new straight-six petrol engines with a mild hybrid system nicknamed ‘EQ Boost’. There’s 362bhp on tap and 368lb ft from the engine alone, with the EQ boost hybrid system providing another 21bhp and 184lb ft of shove for short periods. That means, temporarily, up to 383bhp and 552lb ft is available. Mercedes hasn’t provided GLE performance stats yet but the powertrain has claims of getting up to 28.4mpg and around 220g/km.

Mercedes GLE front tracking

Mercedes has also promised four-cylinder diesels and a plug-in hybrid version like the outgoing GLE 500e. Although unconfirmed, expect the AMG bods in Affalterbach to start fettling with it post-haste.

All engine variants, when others come available, will use Merc’s nine-speed automatic gearbox. The 4Matic all-wheel drive system splits the torque at a fixed 50:50 pattern in the future four-cylinder engines, while the new 450 allows for up to 100% of the torque to be sent fore or aft.

Among the new technologies, the new GLE can be had with Merc’s new ‘E-Active Body Control’ as an option for the 6cyl engines, which uses a 48v anti-roll system combined with air suspension. On lumpy surfaces, the kinetic energy from the suspension reacting to bumps can be recuperated, which Mercedes claims ‘halves the energy requirement compared to the preceding system in the S-Class.’ The active elements in the suspension can all be used to rock the car free if it gets bogged down in mud or sand dunes and allows for leaning into sharp corners to help alleviate some body roll.

I’m assuming this is loaded up with tech?

This is a Mercedes, remember. There’s Distronic adaptive cruise, an active stop-and-go assistant, the active brake assistant recognises traffic turning off your lane and can warn you via the active blind spot monitors if you’re about to open your door into oncoming traffic.

Mercedes GLE interior

MBUX makes its way onto the GLE with its natural voice assistant, configurable displays and wide infotainment screens. The version on the GLE also has extended off-road graphics and information available, plus a specific menu for controlling the off-road drive modes. Merc’s ‘Energising Comfort’ function also actively chills you out using fragrances and different music types.

What about the rest of the interior?

Still familiar Mercedes, but with some specific features unique to the GLE. Along with the usual steering wheel seen on the updated C-Class and the two large MBUX screens, there’s a swooping dashboard inlay similar to that of the S-Class, but with rectangular vents affixed to the central area. The centre console has a large closable storage area and two grab handles at knee-height and a haptic touchpad for controlling the infotainment system, too.

Mercedes GLE interior detail

Mercedes says that it’s way more spacious than before due to the 80mm increase in wheelbase, with 69mm of bonus space going to second row legroom.

And if I have a a big family/lots of friends/loads of stuff to carry?

It can be a seven-seater with a foldable third row, while the second row can be electronically controlled (at an extra cost) for easier access. Merc says the boot can carry up to 825 litres when the third row is down and up to 2055 litres when the second row.

2018 Mercedes GLE: prices and release date

If you’re after one, Mercedes says the new GLE SUV will go on sale in early 2019, when we’ll find out more about the wider engine range. You’ll have to wait a while to find out the basic price, but we’re expecting to see an entry price hovering around £65,000.

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Mercedse GLE rear quarter bike rack

By Jake Groves

CAR's staff writer, office Geordie, gamer, lover of hot hatches

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