Ex-M-Class now GLE spells glee for Mercedes-Benz drivers who need room for six more in a crossover body style
This is the new Mercedes-Benz GLE, which debuted tonight at the Mercedes-Benz Center on 301 Alexandra Road.
A large sports utility vehicle (SUV), it’s the first Mercedes SUV of this size that has the capability to seat seven people.
There is only one variant for Singapore at launch, that is the GLE 450, and it’s priced at S$370,888 with COE.
“The new Mercedes-Benz GLE marks the pinnacle of the premium SUV segment that the brand founded back in 1997. With a fresh injection of driving and user technologies coupled with heightened on and off-road capabilities, the GLE is prepared for any situation.” said Mr. Philipp Hagenburger, President and CEO, Mercedes-Benz Singapore, in an official statement.
1997 refers to the debut of the Mercedes-Benz M-Class (aka ML) one of the first luxury SUVs, beating the Lexus RX and BMW X5 to market by a year.
The third-gen M-Class was renamed ‘GLE’, so by that yardstick, this is the second-gen GLE or fourth-gen M-Class, depending on how you see it.
Previously, the sole seven-seat SUV for Mercedes was the colossal GLS-Class, although now there’s also a smaller GLB that was recently announced.
The new GLE looks par for the course, as modern Mercedes-Benzes go, but you can still see the slanted C-pillar that was one of the very recognisable bits of the M-Class.
Like the new CLS 450, it has an impressive new powertrain that mates a new-generation engine to a 48V mild-hybrid system dubbed ‘EQ Boost’.
The 3.0-litre inline six-cylinder engine is part of a new family of engines from Mercedes that replace the old V6 power units. It makes 367hp and 500Nm of torque, and the electric motor can provide an additional 22hp and 250Nm boost when needed.
That allows the GLE 450 to hit 100km/h from a standstill in a quick 5.7-seconds, on to the car’s 250km/h electronically-limited top speed. A nine-speed automatic gearbox sends power to the car’s all-wheel drive system (4Matic), which itself is capable of sending 100 percent of torque to either axle for maximum traction .
One option for those who might want to go off-road is the Off-Road Engineering package (S$9,100), which includes DSR (Downhill Speed Regulation), a low-range gearbox, and extended Off-Road+ drive mode.
As a mild hybrid, it can’t run fully on electric power, but the hybrid capability allows it to coast with the engine totally shut off, as well as recuperate energy from braking that can be stored in the onboard battery pack.
Despite that, the efficiency figures are not outstanding: Fuel consumption is 9.1L/100km and the Vehicle Emissions Scheme penalty is C2, or S$20,000.
20-inch wheels, sports brakes, and adaptive air suspension are all standard, although the very advanced E-Active Body Control system is available as a S$31,000 option. It controls the suspension settings (spring and damper rates) at each wheel itself to counteract dynamic forces and produce what Mercedes claims to be a superlative level of comfort.
The interior sees the latest MBUX (Mercedes-Benz User Experience) system, featuring dual 12.3-inch screens, one for the driver’s information display.
The other has touch-input for infotainment functions, although it can also be controlled by gesture (MBUX Interior Assist, a S$5,800 option that comes with a HUD), a rotary controller, touchpad, or a voice assistant you initiate by saying, ‘Hey Mercedes’.
The car has grown significantly, with 105mm added to overall length, 80mm to wheelbase, 12mm to width, although it’s 24mm shorter than before – ending up with overall dimensions of 4,924mm length, 1,947mm width, 1,772mm height, and wheelbase of 2,995mm.
That makes it bigger than the BMW X5 (4922mm long, 2975mm wheelbase) but smaller than the Audi Q7 of (5052mm long, 2994mm wheelbase).
The first and second row of seats are electrically-adjustable, while the second row has an easy-open function to allow better access to the third row. Cargo space is quoted at 825-litres with the third-row folded down, and 2,055-litres with the second row folded.