Meet the next Mercedes ML-Class SUV — which is packing an all-new style up front, a six-pack of new engines and vastly improved technology in the cabin.
The most striking change might be the badge itself, however. Called the GLE-Class, this change reflects the new naming strategy across the board for Merc SUVs. GLA, GLK, GLE, GLE Coupe and GLS at the top of the range. The hardy G-Class SUV sticks to its single-letter nomenclature, but its AMG models are now ‘Mercedes-AMG G63’ versus the ‘G63 AMG.’
The nose is a fantastic upgrade to the fairly tired style of the ML550 and ML63, which were feeling very long-in-the-tooth recently in the face of the new S-Class and others. This new GLE wears subtly revised detailing in the doors and liftgate, but maintains its existing glasshouse and pillar designs.
Among the powertrain choices are a plugin hybrid GLE550e and a new GLE300d with turbodiesel power. Gasoline power comes from twin-turbo engines with 4Matic across the board, except on the base GLE350. This car will run a 3.5-liter V6 versus the 3.0-liter twin-turbo in the GLE400.
A GLE400 will offer an extra 27 horsepower over the 302-pony GLE350. This GLE400’s 329-horsepower output is matched by the hybrid GLE550e.
Confused yet? =]
Don’t fret — they are all exceptional and fairly quick. Keen drivers will strongly prefer the GLE400 over the base V6, despite matching 7.5-second sprints to 60-mph. A big jump in in-gear power comes from the GLE400 packing an extra 70 pound-feet of torque over the base V6.
The kings of the group will be the GLE63 and GLE63-S — which run 5.5-liter V8TT’s delivering 550 and 577-horsepower, respectively. These new AMG models deliver a fairly stonking 4.3 and 4.2-second sprint to 62-mph — and likely down to a 4.0-second blast-off to the shorter 60-mph run in the USA.
Pricing and arrival timeframes are not yet known, but overall will be similar to the current ML-Class — with a base in the $48,000 range and almost doubling for the top GLE63 S Model from about $88,000. We expect these AMGs to arrive with the rest of the group by August of 2015 as 2016 models.
Note: These photos are Euro-spec GLE’s — so the badges do not match our USA engines as detailed above and below.
2016 Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class
WORLD PREMIERE FOR THE MERCEDES-BENZ GLE AND MERCEDES-AMG GLE63
Efficiency meets performance
March 25, 2015 – Stuttgart — Mercedes-Benz has thoroughly revised its best-seller in the SUV segment. The highlights of the new GLE include considerably more appealing front and tail ends and extensive measures which make new benchmarks with regard to emissions and drive system possible. For the first time in its SUV history, Mercedes-Benz offers a plug-in hybrid model, the GLE550e 4MATIC, which combines maximum efficiency with outstanding performance. This multi-talent will even best the already low fuel consumption figures of the efficiency champion GLE300d with four-cylinder diesel engine, while delivering the performance of a V8 model. The advantages of the new GLE furthermore include best on-road and off-road handling, outstanding spaciousness and high levels of active and passive safety. The high-performance SUV models, the Mercedes-AMG GLE63 4MATIC and the GLE63 S 4MATIC, celebrate their world premieres at the same time at the New York International Auto Show.
“State-of-the-art and efficient drive technology, combined with superior ride quality and the versatility and robustness typical for SUVs – the new GLE has all the ingredients to continue the success story of our best-seller,” is how Ola Källenius, Member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG, Mercedes-Benz Cars, characterizes the newest member of the Mercedes-Benz SUV family. Outstanding safety and a high level of driving dynamics both on the road and in terrain are among the other strengths of the premium SUV. Furthermore, the GLE impresses with ground-breaking assistance systems and the innovative DYNAMIC SELECT dynamic handling control system, which offers extensive drive and off-road programs for even the base model.
The unmistakable design with the hallmark C-pillar and the variable interior with the wellness factor of a luxurious sedan model enrich the Mercedes-Benz GLE experience additionally. “Often copied, rarely equalled – the M-Class established the segment of premium SUVs in 1997 and since then has been one of the most successful models in the world. With the launch of the GLE, the edition will surpass the 1.6 million mark,” Kaellenius went on to say. And Tobias Moers, Chairman of the Board of Management of Mercedes-AMG GmbH, added: “With the new GLE63 and seven additional performance SUV models from the GLA45 AMG to the G65 AMG, Mercedes-AMG is in an extremely strong and very confident position. All three generations of the predecessors were highly popular. We offer the right performance automobile for every individual taste in the further growing SUV segment.”
Diesel and hybrid drive: efficiency meets the joy of driving
In addition to the appealing design, the variable driving experience thanks to DYNAMIC SELECT and the assistance systems familiar from the E- and S-Class, the GLE impresses with an extensive engine line-up. Five equally efficient and powerful powertrain options with four, six or eight cylinders are available to choose from.
The special focus:
- The (201-hp) four-cylinder diesel model GLE300d offers superior performance with an all-time low fuel consumption for this class of vehicles. It is the world’s first production full-size SUV with conventional drive that under the European cycle emits just 140 g of CO2/km (5.4 l/100 km).
- No less impressive is the first Mercedes-Benz SUV with plug-in hybrid technology. A system output of 436 hp in the GLE550e 4MATIC guarantees brilliant performance – with European cycle CO2 emissions of just 78 g/km (3.3 l/100 km). With a power consumption of 16.7 kWh/100 km, the GLE 500 e 4MATIC is the benchmark in this market segment. In addition, the hybrid model is capable of up to 30 km (18.6 mi) of all-electric driving.
GLE550e 4MATIC: plug-in hybrid technology meets a luxury SUV
The new GLE550e 4MATIC with plug-in hybrid drive combines the power and refinement of a V8 engine with the fuel consumption of a three-liter car and the versatility of a premium SUV. The drive system components comprise a V6 direct-injection gasoline engine with 329 hp and a hybrid module with 114 hp of electric power. The system peak torque is a massive 479 lbs-ft. In addition to impressive acceleration thanks to the boost function, the innovative system drive also offers all-electric driving at speeds up to 81 mph, optimized energy recovery thanks to the intelligent operating strategy and comfort functions such as pre-entry climate control in summer and winter.
A selector switch on the center console and the instrument cluster offer the driver a choice between four specific operating modes:
- HYBRID: the system controls automatically select the most sensible operating mode with combustion engine and/or electric motor for optimising the overall energy balance
- E-MODE: all-electric driving
- E-SAVE: this mode preserves the current state of charge of the battery to be able to drive on all-electric power at a later time, for example in urban traffic
- CHARGE: battery is charged while driving and when the vehicle is stationary
The compact hybrid module is fully integrated into the seven-speed 7G-TRONIC PLUS automatic transmission. The electrical energy is stored in a lithium-ion battery with an energy content of 8.8 kWh, which can be recharged using public charging stations, the wallbox charger at home or on a conventional 220 volt power outlet. The charging time using the wallbox charger or the charging station is around two hours.
Intelligent drive system management
The best strategy for efficient driving has always been anticipatory driving without unnecessary braking and accelerating. This is even more important in a hybrid model: because braking manoeuvres serve not only to deliver deceleration, but are also used to recover kinetic energy. The route or the traffic also has influence on the most efficient charging and discharging of the high-voltage battery. For this reason the intelligent drive system management aids the driver with specific control strategies in adopting the most efficient driving style.
State-of-the-art BlueDIRECT V6 and V8 petrol engines
The GLE400 4MATIC is powered by a direct-injection twin-turbo V6 engine with spray-guided combustion, new piezo injectors and MSI multi-spark ignition. This engine produces an output of 329 hp and 354 lbs-ft of torque from 1400 rpm and makes do on 8.8 l/100 km or 209 g CO2/km (NEDC combined) on the European cycle.
The range of gasoline and plug-in hybrid engines* at a glance:
|GLE350 and GLE350 4MATIC (formerly ML350)
|GLE400 4MATIC (formerly ML400)
|Twin-turbo V6, direct injection, electric motor
|Power (hp) at rpm
|Electric motor hp
|System output (hp)
|Electric motor (lb-ft)
|251 lb ft
|System torque (lb-ft)
|479 lb ft
|Fuel consumption (EPA est)
|Acceleration: 0-60 mph
|Seven-speed automatic transmission
|4MATIC permanent all-wheel-drive system (except GLE350 rwd)
|8 J x 18
255/55 R 18
|8.5 J x 19
255/50 R 19
Powerful clean diesel engine
With the start of the new GLE generation, the diesel model will be equipped with the optionally available off-road reduction gear and inter-axle differential lock. The transmission is fitted with a new type of torque converter with a high efficiency of 92 percent and a wide spread of 9.15 across the nine speeds. Both contribute to the high energy efficiency of the GLE models. A double turbine torsional damper with centrifugal pendulum and the torque converter lock-up clutch with return spring ensure the extremely refined operation typical of the brand. Depending on the mode selected for the DYNAMIC SELECT variable dynamic handling control system, the 7G-TRONIC impresses with great agility and responsiveness or poised composure.
The diesel engine at a glance:
(formerly ML250 BlueTEC)
|4-cylinder in-line diesel engine,
|Power (hp) at rpm
|Torque (lb-ft) at rpm
|Fuel consumption (EPA estimate)
|Acceleration: 0-60 mph
|7G-TRONIC seven-speed automatic transmission
|4MATIC permanent all-wheel-drive system
|Wheelbase mm / in
|Wheels / tires
|7.5 J x 17 / 235/65 R17
The new Mercedes-AMG GLE63 4MATIC is now stronger and more appealing than ever with an expanded model line-up and even more power. Following the introduction of the new naming logic, the successor of the successful Mercedes-Benz ML63 AMG is now called the Mercedes-AMG GLE63. The AMG 5.5-liter twin-turbo V8 engine is even more powerful than before: in addition to the basic variant developing 550 hp, there is also the highly sporty S-Model to choose from which is rated at 577 hp. The chassis was completely revised to deliver even better driving dynamics and agility. The throttle response of the engine and the shift times of the transmission are now on a new, even sportier level and thereby underscore the hallmark AMG Driving Performance. With the characteristic AMG family face featuring “A-wing” and twin-blade radiator grille, the power SUV also has a more dynamic appearance than before.
The models at a glance:
|Mercedes-AMG GLE63 4MATIC
|Mercedes-AMG GLE63 S 4MATIC
|Peak torque lb-ft
|Fuel consumption (l/100 km) (NEDC combined)
|Acceleration 0-100 km/h (s)
|Top speed (km/h) mph
DYNAMIC SELECT combined with off-road drive programs
The DYNAMIC SELECT dynamic handling control system of the new GLE offers up to six drive programs. In addition to the established settings INDIVIDUAL, COMFORT, SLIPPERY and SPORT, in the 4MATIC models the driver can choose the additional OFFROAD setting for mild terrain with the DYNAMIC SELECT controller on the centre console. If the GLE model is equipped with the optional Off-Road Engineering package, the OFFROAD+ setting is available. In this setting, the off-road reduction gear and a 100% inter-axle differential lock come into play to generate high traction even in challenging terrain. This is further boosted by the expanded functions of the optional AIRMATIC air suspension with raised ride heights for a ground clearance of up to 11 inches and a fording depth of 23 inches. The reinforced underfloor panelling of this equipment variant protects important components against not so gentle contact with the ground.
The selection of the individual drive programs effects the DYNAMIC SELECT variable dynamic handling control system to activate entirely different characteristics. The system networks all the control systems, generating different sets of parameters for distinct driving experiences. The names speak for themselves: SPORT turns the GLE into a sporty and dynamic vehicle with strong linear and lateral dynamics. COMFORT is the opposite end of the spectrum. Here the emphasis is on the feel-good parameters so typical of classic Mercedes-Benz saloon cars, for relaxed, effortless cruising with the greatest possible energy efficiency. SLIPPERY optimises the handling on surfaces with low friction coefficients such as snow or ice. And special off-road algorithms for ABS, 4ETS or ESP boost traction in the OFFROAD settings. In addition, INDIVIDUAL mode enables the driver to programme and store personal preferences in the individual control strategies, regardless of the engine variant.
All DYNAMIC SELECT programs are visualized on the central media display. Especially impressive are the off-road animations: various parameters such as slope angle, tilt angle, steering angle or heading are displayed dynamically in real time.
Superior high everyday practicality and perfect traction, sports-car agility and spontaneous throttle response – the new Mercedes-AMG GLE63 guarantees its driver an exclusive driving experience without parallel. DYNAMIC SELECT is a major factor in this as well: the drive programs provide even more variety in the area of driving dynamics. The additional SPORT+ setting offers the driver tailor-made characteristics for particularly sporty driving dynamics. Throttle response, gear-change strategy, ESP® thresholds, steering power assist or the characteristic of the continuous damper adjustment exclusive to AMG: the system networks all the control systems, generating a wide variety of distinct driving experiences.
Mercedes-AMG uses a special transfer case for the AMG Performance 4MATIC permanent all-wheel drive in the GLE63 and GLE63 S. This exclusive solution splits the torque at a ratio of 40:60 between the front and rear axles, resulting in greater agility about the vertical axis of the vehicle. The pay-off for the driver: even more dynamic cornering.
Stable combination for all M-B GLE models: optional AIRMATIC ADS and optional ACTIVE CURVE SYSTEM (ACS is standard on AMG models)
In addition to the ground-breaking powertrain configuration, the retuned AIRMATIC air suspension with ADS variable damping system guarantees extremely stable driving. The damping system changes its priorities depending on the preselected DYNAMIC SELECT mode. SPORT focuses on the greatest possible lateral dynamics with the best possible ride quality. Conversely, COMFORT mode enables maximum ride quality with the best possible dynamics. The current handling conditions are detected via a steering angle sensor, four rotation sensors, the driving speed from the ESP® signal and the brake pedal switch. The control unit uses these signals for continuous adjustment of the current damping force for each individual wheel.
The optional ACTIVE CURVE SYSTEM roll stabilization system can be combined with the optional AIRMATIC package with air suspension and ADS or with the Off-Road Engineering package. The system uses active anti-roll bars on the front and rear axle and compensates the roll angle of the body during cornering. This enhances agility and driving fun. At the same time, the system provides increased handling stability and therefore safety, especially at higher speeds. Better driving comfort both when cornering and on straights as well as expanded off-road capabilities are also part of the advantages of the ACTIVE CURVE SYSTEM.
All models with four- and six-cylinder engines are equipped with the AGILITY CONTROL steel suspension as standard. The AIRMATIC package with ADS is optionally available for these versions. An electro-mechanical Direct-Steer system is standard on all models.
The AMG RIDE CONTROL sports suspension with AIRMATIC package comprises more than just the air suspension with automatic level control. The new GLE 63 is also fitted with special struts, which were refined with ADS Plus continuously variable dampers, a solution exclusive to AMG. The ACTIVE CURVE SYSTEM roll stabilisation system is part of the standard equipment in this model.
The towing capacity of the GLE is up to 7700 lbs on non-diesel models.
High protective potential through comprehensive safety
As is already a tradition, the new GLE impresses with outstanding active and passive safety. The models regularly score highest marks in the international crash ratings. With its high protective potential, the GLE also creates the best conditions for passing future tests with the highest rating. The comprehensive safety concept follows the brand’s hallmark strategy and comprises four areas:
|avoid dangers, provide timely warnings, and aid the driver with extensive assistance systems
|In the event of danger:
|prevent and activate protective measures preventively (PreSAFE®)
|In the event of an accident:
|provide tailor-made protection with a highly stable passenger cell, defined deformation zones and restraint systems such as airbags or belt tensioners
|After an accident:
|prevent the worst and make swift assistance possible
Even at first glance, the new GLE blends tradition and modernity. Classic SUV elements meet modern Mercedes-Benz design and form a convincing whole. On one hand, the confident appearance of the GLE is enhanced with the typical stylistic features of all generations: the characteristic C-pillar and the harmoniously integrated rear side window have been an integral part since this model series started in 1997. At the same time, elements of the modern Mercedes-Benz design idiom catch the eye. Radiator grille, bumpers, headlamps, wings and the hood with its two power domes follow the current sensuous and clear design idiom of Mercedes-Benz. Especially the harmonious, organic transition of the two radiator louvres to the central Mercedes star is convincing. New headlamps with the daytime driving lights forming the brand’s hallmark eyebrows and the current lamp layout – optionally as LED Intelligent Light-System – blend harmoniously with the front end. The new wings with their arched wheel wells lend the entire front end more harmony and presence.
The tail end of the GLE was likewise matched to the current design idiom and updated cautiously. New LED tail lamps now glow in the brand’s hallmark night design. Also striking are the redesigned tailpipe embellishers firmly integrated in to the lower section of the bumper. Front and rear bumper furthermore are fitted with the likewise characteristic three-dimensional chrome-look underride guard. New light-alloy wheels boost the superior appearance of the new GLE.
Mercedes-AMG GLE63 and GLE63 S: powerful sportiness with “A-wing”
Performance and perfection revealed: the design of the new Mercedes-AMG GLE63 inspires with exclusivity, powerful sportiness and dominance. It underscores the progressiveness of the AMG brand and transports the impressive motor sport history. From now on, the new GLE63 also sports the distinctive “A-wing” in the front bumper, which is characteristic for the AMG design philosophy. The design of the radiator grille with the silver chrome double louvre, the integrated AMG lettering and the central Mercedes star are distinguishing features of current AMG Performance automobiles.
The performance SUV also impresses with dominance when viewed from the side. Wheel arch flares in vehicle colour provide space for the large wheels. As standard, tires of size 265/45 R 20 are mounted on 9J x 20 AMG multi-spoke light-alloy wheels painted titanium grey with high-sheen finish. Optionally the GLE63 can be upgraded in terms of looks and driving dynamics with tires of size 295/35 R 21.
The black diffuser insert in the rear bumper with black trim strip in the shape of the front “A-wing” represents typical motor racing design. The special exhaust system with two chrome-plated dual tailpipe embellishers and “AMG” lettering underscores the sportiness and exclusivity.
Detail work for an even more harmonious interior*
In the interior the larger media display stands out, which is now partially integrated into the instrument panel. The centre air vents next to the display and the outer air vents are framed by classy silver shadow surrounds. In combination with the black high-gloss surround this emphasises the sophisticated design of the interior. The centre console houses the COMAND controller with the touchpad fitted above in an optimal ergonomic position.
New colors make the interior even more attractive and lend it the feel-good atmosphere that is typical of the brand. The choices now also include ginger beige, espresso brown, saddle brown or porcelain, which in combination with black interior elements create an interesting contrast. In addition to the standard aluminium with light-coloured longitudinal grain, the large trim elements are also available in a version featuring a particularly classy black piano lacquer or various types of wood: open-pore brown ash wood or the glossy wood types brown eucalyptus, black poplar or brown burred walnut. And especially sporty minded customers can choose high-quality AMG carbon-fibre trim.
Complete standard equipment, attractive equipment packages*
The extensive range of standard equipment of the new GLE is based on the predecessor model, enhanced with new assistance systems such as Crosswind Assist and COLLISION PREVENTION ASSIST PLUS. ECO start/stop function, the DYNAMIC SELECT controller on the centre console, the revised multifunction steering wheel as well as the Audio 20 CD infotainment system with 7-inch display and communications module for the use of Mercedes connect me services are also part of the standard delivery scope.
This high equipment level can be upgraded further with attractive equipment packages. The Driving Assistance package Plus includes DISTRONIC PLUS with Steering Assist and Stop&Go Pilot, PRE-SAFE® Brake with pedestrian protection, BAS PLUS with Cross-Traffic Assist, Active Blind Spot Assist, Active Lane Keeping Assist and PRE-SAFE® PLUS. With the Comfort package, the equipment is enhanced with the automatic EASY-PACK liftgate, the soft and automatic power closing of all doors and a reversing camera. The Parking package with 360° camera and Active Parking Assist with PARKTRONIC guarantees an excellent overview and problem-free manoeuvring into and out of parking spaces. Night-time vision is improved by the LED Intelligent Light System which is available for all models; adverse weather conditions resulting in impaired visibility are defused by MAGIC VISION CONTROL, the heated adaptive windscreen wiper system with purposeful water distribution.
Freely combinable packages lend the GLE additional appeal. With the AMG Line exterior, the GLE has an even more dynamic and athletic appearance. The package comprises, among other things, special front and rear bumpers in the distinctive AMG styling and 50.8-cm (20-inch) AMG light-alloy wheels. Those who like things even more exclusive can combine this feature with the Night package, which features a high-gloss black radiator grille louvre and exterior mirror housings, for example. The line-up of options is rounded out by high-sheen black 50.8-cm (20-inch) AMG light-alloy wheels.
The AMG Line interior transfers the sporty appearance to the interior with sports seats with MB-Tex man-made leather upholstery (optional nappa leather), a black nappa leather multifunction sports steering wheel, an instrument cluster with distinct dial in chequered-flag design and brushed stainless-steel sports pedals with rubber studs.
As an option, the latest generation of COMAND Online offers perfect infotainment with a 20.3-cm (8-inch) display and intuitive touchpad. The system comprises, among other things, a DVD player and traffic sign recognition including wrong-way warning function. Customers can supplement COMAND Online optionally with a 6-disc DVD changer, the Rear-Seat Entertainment System with remote control or a TV receiver. Also available are sound systems from Harman Kardon or Bang & Olufsen to elevate the music experience to the level of a concert hall.
Vehicle functions that can be controlled remotely or traffic information in real time – Mercedes CONNECT ME makes personal mobility easier and more convenient: from the basic services for safety and security and LIVE TRAFFIC information in real time to the in part fee-based Remote Online services, the desired data can be exchanged via the mobile phone network and via an internet connection.
Even more exclusive: design and equipment of the Mercedes-AMG GLE63
In the interior the new GLE63 demonstrates what constitutes a true AMG Performance automobile. Exquisite materials, first-class workmanship and maximum precision create a unique driving experience. Design and equipment underscore the exclusive high-end positioning.
Aluminium trim with longitudinal grain in the black MB-Tex man-made leather instrument panel set attractive highlights. Perforated nappa leather sports seats with special upholstery layout and topstitching as well as AMG badges make for an exclusive look and feel. Thanks to their specific upholstery with greater contouring and higher side bolsters at the front, the sports seats offer excellent lateral support. The fitting complement is the 3-spoke AMG Performance steering wheel with flat bottom and silver paddle shifters with “UP” and “DOWN” lettering.
Two tube-shaped round dials with silver chrome surrounds and the central 11.4-cm (4.4-inch) multifunction display provide the driver with comprehensive information. The typical AMG equipment scope includes sporty dials in carbon-fiber appearance with a 200 mph speedometer scale, AMG lettering and red pointers, as well as the main menu including RACETIMER, manual gear indicator and AMG start-up screen. The top-of-the-line Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S model offers nappa leather exclusive AMG upholstery in addition – a highlight both in terms of looks and touch and feel.
“G” to the fore: the new SUV nomenclature
Mercedes-Benz has rearranged its successful SUV model range. The multifunctional all-rounders now always carry a G in their name as a reminiscence to the legendary G-Class. The name in each case is an acronym of three letters. The G is always followed by an L, the third letter facilitates orientation in the SUV line-up based on the passenger car model range of Mercedes-Benz. In detail, this new naming scheme results in the following nomenclature for the SUV and off-roader range in which only the legendary G-Class on account of its unchanged model designation signals its special position as the forefather of all modern SUVs and off-roaders:
|SUV in the A-Class segment
|SUV in the C-Class segment; formerly GLK
|SUV in the E-Class segment; formerly M-Class
|SUV in the E-Class Coupe segment
|SUV in the S-Class segment; formerly GL
The names of the AMG model series are also adapted accordingly:
Mercedes-AMG GLA45 4MATIC
Mercedes-AMG GLE63 / GLE63 S 4MATIC
Mercedes-AMG GLE63 / GLE63 S Coupé 4MATIC
Mercedes-AMG GLS63 / GLS63 S 4MATIC
Mercedes-AMG G63 / G65
Tom Burkart is the founder and managing editor of Car-Revs-Daily.com, an innovative and rapidly-expanding automotive news magazine.
He holds a Journalism JBA degree from the University of Wisconsin – Madison. Tom currently resides in Charleston, South Carolina with his two amazing dogs, Drake and Tank.
Mr. Burkart is available for all questions and concerns by email Tom(at)car-revs-daily.com.