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The GLE gets a complete refresh for this model year, and a lot of technology this time around
The GLE has been a success for Mercedes-Benz in India — it’s big, it’s comfortable and it has the road presence that it’s price calls for. For 2020 though, Mercedes is stepping up the game by bringing in the all-new GLE. The new car is both longer and wider, the cabin gets a complete redesign and it can be optioned with an all-new straight-six petrol engine. However, the signature forward leaning C-Pillar stays, harking back to the M-Classes of old.
The new GLE looks almost nothing like the old one, but it still looks like a big, expensive Mercedes. The headlights are more compact and sleeker than before, with two LED strips hinting at the E-Class lineage. The large grille is centered by the three-pointed star, lending it an imposing front end. This is aided by the muscular bulges in the bonnet and flared wheel arches. The side profile is not over the top but has a muscular sense to it and features a sharp beltline. It is still very GLE though, or rather M-Class like, thanks to the C-pillar design.
The rear of the GLE does borrow inspiration from the GLS, as the rest of the design but more so in the rear. There are slim taillights that taper towards the center and meet a chrome element under the three-pointed star. There are chrome (faux) exhaust tips flanking a chrome diffuser, adding a touch of luxury to the rear-end. The new GLE looks very handsome overall, it is well proportioned and imposing. Like the GLE should.
If you think the exterior is a big departure from the outgoing GLE, wait till you step inside. The cabin is dominated by the large twin 12.3-inch screens, where one handles the infotainment and the other serves as the digital instrument cluster. The GLE now gets Mercedes’ new MBUX infotainment system that debuted on the GLC in India, and features the “Hey Mercedes” functionality. The infotainment screen gets a row of four AC vents that are finished in chrome, under which are shortcut keys for the climate control. The large displays are flanked by two large vents, the one on the driver’s side if functional but the one on the other end is just for show, for symmetry. The steering wheel offers more functionality than before too, with touchpads on either side to control both displays via the wheel. The strip of wood running across the dash looks exquisite. An almost signature of the new generation Mercedes cars is the class leading ambient lighting and the GLE does not disappoint those looking for a light show in their car. The rear seats have good functionality too, the 300d does not get reclining seats at the back but the 400d and 450 get more versatility in that regard. You can even get a six-way electronically adjustable rear seat! The large panoramic sunroof adds to the luxe factor and makes the cabin feel airier and larger than it already is.
The new GLE is longer than the old one by 105mm, now measuring in at 4924mm with a 2995mm wheelbase. The new car also has a wider track than before, by 25mm on the front and 35mm at the rear. The GLE has a more athletic stance thanks to the slightly lower roof, as compared to the last generation car. Internationally, the new GLE gets the E-Active body Control, that uses the 48V mild hybrid system to individually control the suspension on each side, meaning it can keep the car level during cornering, jiggle about to get you unstuck off-road, or put on a dance show at the launch event. We do not know yet if the E-Active Body Control will make it to India though, that will be confirmed at launch. The GLE 350d and 400d will run on standard steel springs while the 450 petrol comes with air suspension.
The 2020 GLE will come with three power units, the 300d, 400d and 450 petrol. The base 300d replaces the 250d with a 1950cc diesel that makes 241bhp and 500Nm of torque and has a claimed 0-100 time of 7.2 seconds. The 400d replaces the 350d with a 2925cc motor producing 325bhp and 700Nm of torque, and gets the GLE to a 100 in a brisk 5.8 seconds. If that’s not good enough for you Mercedes-Benz will offer a 450 petrol which makes 361bhp and 500Nm of torque, meaning a 0 to 100 time of 5.7 seconds. Internationally the 450 petrol gets an EQ Boost system that works with the 48V mild hybrid system and adds an additional 21bhp and 250Nm of torque for short bursts, we do not know yet if that system will make it to India. Nevertheless, both the 400d and 450 petrol are plenty quick for an SUV of these proportions. All engines on the new GLE will come mated to a nine-speed automatic gearbox and Mercedes’ 4Matic all-wheel-drive system.
The new GLE will get a bump in price, largely because of the extra kit on offer and also thanks to the BS6 norms. The earlier GLE was priced between Rs 67 lakh going up to Rs 78 lakh for the top-end petrol variant. Mercedes-Benz has already opened up bookings for the all-new GLE after selling all stocks of the outgoing model during Diwali. We will know more about the final price and features, once the car launches on January 29.