The new Mercedes-Benz GLE: The SUV trendsetter completely reconceived
Stuttgart. The new Mercedes-Benz GLE has a wealth of innovations. The active suspension system E-ACTIVE BODY CONTROL on a 48‑volt basis is a world first, while the driving assistance systems take another step forward with Active Stop-and-Go Assist. The interior is even more spacious and comfortable - a third seat row is available on request. The infotainment system has larger screens, a full-colour head-up display with a resolution of 720 x 240 pixels and the MBUX Interior Assistant, which can recognise hand and arm movements and supports operating intentions. The exterior design not only exudes presence and power, but also sets a new standard for aerodynamics in the SUV segment. The GLE will receive a completely new range of engines on market launch in early 2019. The new 4MATIC ensures great agility on the road and superior performance off the beaten track. At a later stage a plug-in hybrid variant with a particularly long range will be added to the drive portfolio. The prices for the new GLE will be announced on the sales release date in late autumn.
"In 1997 Mercedes-Benz founded the premium SUV segment with the launch of the M-Class. Since then, more than two million customers have decided in favour of the off-roader," says Ola Källenius, member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG responsible for Group Research and Mercedes-Benz Cars Development. "With a new control concept, innovative driving assistants, a new engine range and significantly more space, the new GLE is set to continue this success story."
"The GLE exhibits iconic Mercedes-Benz design while remaining true to its character as an off-roader," says Gorden Wagener, Chief Design Officer at Daimler AG. "With its design idiom it perfectly embodies our design philosophy of sensual purity, thus representing modern luxury. The interior derives its fascination from the contrast between the luxurious and elegant design and the digital high-tech of our MBUX system." With a Cd starting from 0.29, the new GLE has the best aerodynamics in its segment.
In 1997 Mercedes-Benz founded the premium SUV segment with the launch of the M-Class. Since autumn 2015 the model family has borne the name GLE, emphasising its positioning as an SUV in the E‑Class model family. More than two million customers have decided in favour of the off-roader since the launch of the M-Class, and the GLE is the bestselling SUV in the history of Mercedes-Benz. At present Mercedes-Benz is presented with seven highly successful models in the SUV segment (GLA, GLC, GLC Coupé, GLE, GLE Coupé, GLS, G‑Class). The SUVs are a major structural pillar in the Mercedes-Benz product portfolio, and greatly contribute to the growth of Mercedes-Benz. To date, more than five million customers worldwide have purchased a Mercedes-Benz SUV.
The new Mercedes-Benz GLE will be presented to the public for the first time at the Paris Motor Show (Mondial de l’Automobile) in Paris from 4 to 14 October 2018). It will be in the dealerships in early 2019 in the USA and Europe, and in spring 2019 in China. The GLE is produced in Tuscaloosa (Alabama/USA).
The five most important innovations in the new GLE:
- E-ACTIVE BODY CONTROL: Fully networked hydropneumatic, active suspension on a 48-volt basis, for the first time in combination with the likewise newly developed air suspension. This is the only system on the market where the spring and damping forces can be individually controlled at each wheel. This means that it not only counteracts body roll, but also pitching and squat.
- Active Tailback Assist: This driving assistance system enables the GLE to recognise tailbacks at an early stage, actively supports the driver in stop-and-go traffic up to approx. 60 km/h and even helps to form a rescue lane.
- Turn-off function of Active Brake Assist: If there is danger of a collision with oncoming traffic when turning off across a carriageway, the GLE can be braked at the speeds typical of such manoeuvres.
- 4MATIC: Available for the first time for models with 6 and 8-cylinder engines and with the plug-in hybrid, fully variable all-wheel drive (Torque on Demand, TonD) controls the torque distribution between the front and rear axle from 0‑100 per cent depending on the selected driving mode. With the optional Offroad package, and as a world first, likewise fully variable all-wheel drive (TonD) with a low and high range is available. This makes the GLE more off-road capable than ever.
- Seating comfort: The new GLE has a much longer wheelbase (plus 80 mm), with corresponding interior spaciousness. Comfort is particularly enhanced by the optional, fully electrically adjustable second seat row – a third seat row is also available as an option.
Exterior design: powerful presence
The aesthetic appeal of the GLE is based on the harmonious interaction between emotion and intelligence, which is designed to awaken desire. This is characterised by timeless beauty, a combination of high-grade technology and craftsmanship and reduction to what is really important.
Modern luxury both on and off the road: that is the design message of the new GLE. The vehicle's proportions with a long wheelbase, short overhangs and large, flush-fitted wheels already leave no doubt that it feels at home and cuts a good figure on any terrain. The GLE follows the design strategy of sensual purity, and dispenses with individual edges and beading in favour of generously modelled surfaces. The surfaces interact with precise graphic elements.
The front section of the GLE exudes presence and power: this is ensured by the upright radiator grille in an octagonal SUV interpretation, the prominent, chrome-plated underguard and the bonnet with two powerdomes. This striking appearance is emphasised by the distinctive headlamp design for day and night.
The ULTRA RANGE high beam of the MULTIBEAM LED headlamps produces the maximum light intensity permitted by law, - the brightness of the main beam headlamps remains above the reference value of 1 lux over a distance of more than 650 metres.
Viewed from the side, the wide C-pillar typical of the GLE conveys self-assured stability. The large wheels in sizes from 18 to 22 inches are housed in wheel arches with prominent liners. This underlines the GLE's robust SUV character, as do the pillared roof rails or the optional illuminated running boards. The chrome surrounds of the windows are however reminiscent of a premium saloon model.
The GLE also cuts an athletic figure from the rear. This is particularly ensured by the powerful shoulder muscle extending from the C-pillar to the rear lights. The reflectors are relocated lower down, giving the rear lights a flatter appearance. The rear lights are also divided into two sections, which not only gives an impression of width but also creates an unmistakable night design with illuminated blocks typical of Mercedes-Benz SUVs, in this case with backlit edge lighting. The rear is strikingly rounded off with the chrome-plated underguard.
Aerodynamics: detailed fine-tuning for the best Cd figure in this class
The new GLE has a Cd starting from 0.29 - the best in its segment. This is also a significant improvement over the preceding model (Cd 0.32). The good aerodynamic properties make a key contribution to low fuel consumption under everyday conditions. A host of details was optimised with the aid of numerous computation loops, CAE (computer-aided engineering) simulations and measurements taken in the wind tunnel in Sindelfingen.
The measures taken include:
- Cooling air control system behind the radiator grille for need-related metering of the airflow (AIRPANEL)
- Wheel spoilers with aerodynamically optimised mouldings in front of the front wheels
- Optimised exterior mirrors
- Additional wheel spoilers in front of the rear wheels
- Side spoilers with D-pillar seal on the tailgate
- Rear lights with special spoiler lips
- Large area of underbody and propshaft tunnel panelling, flush fuel tank cladding, aerodynamic cladding on the rear axle, aerodynamically optimised diffuser lining.
- Aero-wheels with aerodynamically optimised tyres
Interior design: luxuriously elegant and powerfully progressive
The interior of the new GLE derives its fascination from the contrast between the luxurious, elegant ambience of a Mercedes-Benz luxury saloon and the robust, progressive features of an SUV. The central element in the dashboard’s design is a sporty, stylish cockpit unit embedded in a striking dashboard support. The dashboard support flows into the door panels, and the integral trim element likewise extends around the driver and front passenger areas to meet the doors.
The prominent, raised centre console creates a robust contrast with the flee-floating appearance of the dashboard. As a typical feature of off-roaders, there are two prominent grab handles on the centre console. Apart from good ergonomics, flowing leather surfaces create a modern, luxurious impression rounded off by a broad area of trim and flush-fitting sunblinds. All the controls and displays are in a new design. The controls with haptic and audible feedback appear to have been milled from a solid metal block. Very fine chiselling and pyramidal structures demonstrate the desire for perfection and craftsmanship. The new sport steering wheel with its striking, sculptured spoke design accentuates the impressive appearance of the SUV's interior.
Interior: more space in the rear and third seat row on request
A size larger: the new GLE has a considerably longer wheelbase than its predecessor (2995 mm, plus 80 mm). This creates significantly more space, especially for passengers in the rear. Legroom in the second seat row has increased by 69 mm to 1045 mm. Headroom in the rear with the standard, fixed rear seat unit and 40:20:40 split backrest has been increased by 33 mm to 1025 mm. And because the A-pillar is more upright than before, spaciousness and entry comfort in the first row has been further improved.
On request, and as a world first in the SUV segment, a second seat row with 6 fully electric adjustments is available. The right and left seats can be separately adjusted fore and aft by up to 100 mm, the backrests are adjustable for angle and foldable in a 40:20:40 ratio, and the head restraints are adjustable for height. In typical Mercedes fashion, the rear seat adjustments are controlled by a switch in the door panel. The backrest can also be completely folded down electrically, using a switch array in the luggage compartment.
The luggage capacity is up to 825 litres behind the rear seats and up to 2055 litres when the second seat row is folded down. A 72 mm increase in through-loading width allows bulky items to be stowed more easily. Useful holders and protective elements have been especially developed as accessories for practical stowage of recreational equipment in the interior. In conjunction with the AIRMATIC air suspension, the vehicle's rear can be lowered by around 40 mm using a switch, for easier loading and unloading.
Even more flexibility is possible with the optional, folding third seat row, which provides two extra seats. Thanks to the Easy Entry function of the fully electrically adjustable second seat row, the two rearmost passengers can conveniently reach their seats.
ENERGIZING seat kinetics is another innovation available for the front seats in conjunction with fully electric seat adjustment with memory function. ENERGIZING seat kinetics supports changes in the seating posture by means of minute movements of the seat cushion and backrest.
ENERGIZING comfort control: now with a guide
ENERGIZING comfort control networks various comfort systems in the vehicle, and uses musical and lighting moods plus a number of massage modes for a wide range of feel-good programmes.
The ENERGIZING COACH is a new feature. This function, based on an intelligent algorithm, recommends one of the programmes depending on the situation and the individual. If a compatible Garmin® wearable is worn, personal values such as stress level or quality of sleep optimise the accuracy of the recommendation. The aim is for the driver and passengers to feel well and relaxed even during demanding or monotonous journeys.
MBUX: now with Interior Assist
The GLE is equipped with the latest generation of the multimedia system MBUX - Mercedes-Benz User Experience. Improvements versus the A-Class in which this revolutionary system debuts include two large 12.3-inch/ 31.2 cm screens as standard, which are arranged side-by-side for an impressive wide-screen look. The information from the instrument cluster and media display is easily legible on the large, high-resolution screens. Showcasing elements in an emotively appealing manner underlines the comprehensibility of the intuitive control structure and impresses with brilliant graphics.
Depending on mood or to suit the chosen interior, the user has a choice of four different styles:
- Modern Classic is a further development of the classic display style in an elegant and light material mix.
- Sport has a high-tech turbine look with decidedly sporty black/yellow contrasts.
- Progressive presents digitality in reduced form.
- In the Discreet style, all displays are reduced to the absolutely necessary.
The optional MBUX Interior Assist also allows intuitive, natural operation of different comfort and MBUX functions by movement recognition. A camera in the overhead console registers movements of the driver's and front passenger's hands and arms. When a hand approaches the touchscreen or the touchpad on the centre console, the media display changes and individual elements highlighted. The system is able to distinguish the driver's hand from that of the front passenger, and therefore recognises for whose seat the massage function is to be activated, for example.
In addition there are functions that can be controlled by simple hand gestures: the reading lamp can be switched on and off by extending a hand towards the rear-view mirror, for example. The driver and front passenger can each programme a personal, favourite function.
General MBUX operation has been improved in numerous respects. For example, the settings menus have been newly designed and the initial setup assistant has been improved. The 40 or so new MBUX functions in the GLE include, for example.
- Support for off-road specific driving modes (free-driving mode and individual wheel actuation)
- Extended off-road displays in the instrument cluster and head-up display (linear and lateral inclination, Torque on Demand, suspension level)
- The setting for the full-screen map in the instrument cluster can be changed directly in the instrument cluster
- ENERGIZING COACH
- ADAPT driver's seat adjustment: if the body size is entered, the seat automatically moves to a usually suitable position
- Extension of online functions: for example. "In-car office" can now read out emails and includes speech-to-text tools.
- Integration of online music (TIDAL) in Europe
- Extended range of apps, for example, specific functions for individual regions. Online music is available via the provider Kuwo in China, for example. Extensive information about points of interest (POIs) is made available by Baidu Wiki in China.
A unique feature of MBUX - Mercedes-Benz User Experience is its learning capability thanks to artificial intelligence. With its predictive functions, MBUX for example, anticipates what the user would like next. For instance, anyone who often telephones with their mother on Tuesdays during the journey home will receive her telephone number as a suggestion in the display on this day of the week. Anyone who regularly switches over to a radio station with news at a certain time receives this as a suggestion.
Other strengths include touchscreen control of the media display as standard and the use of augmented reality technology for the navigation display: a video image of the surroundings is enhanced with helpful navigation information for example, arrows or house numbers are automatically superimposed directly onto the image in the media display. This makes it easier for the driver to search for a certain house number, or to find the correct side road for turning off. The intelligent voice control with natural language comprehension has also been improved, and is, for example, activated by the keyword "Hey Mercedes". Much more complex commands and questions are now understood, initially in the three top languages Mandarin, US English and German.
Also available is a next-generation head‑up display whose resolution of 720 x 240 pixels and extended projection distance sets new standards. Important information is projected on to the windscreen, reducing distraction from the traffic situation. There is also less eye fatigue for the driver, as the eyes do not constantly have to refocus between close-up and long-distance vision. A system of lenses and mirrors projects a full-colour image measuring around 45 x 15 cm on to the windscreen. To the driver it appears to float above the bonnet at a distance of around 3 metres. Now more than twice the size, the virtual image is 20 percent brighter for better legibility in bright conditions and has space for further information about, for example, the current audio source, the current phone call and the reception and battery status of the connected phone. In addition it shows the arrival time and distance to the destination if route guidance is active. The driver is able to select the information considered relevant, including additional off-road content such as vehicle inclination, torque distribution and acceleration forces.
Powertrain: in-line 6-cylinder in the GLE 450 4MATIC with EQ Boost
The new Mercedes-Benz GLE will be launched with the new in-line 6-cylinder petrol engine, and other engines including diesels and a plug-in hybrid will follow.
The Mercedes-Benz GLE 450 4MATIC as the first petrol model is powered by a 6-cylinder engine systematically electrified with 48-volt technology (combined fuel consumption: 9.6– � 8.3 l/100 km; combined CO2 emissions: 220–190 g/km)1, and is available on market launch. Its performance data: 270 kW (367 hp) and 500 Nm of torque, with a further 250 Nm of torque and 16 kW/22 hp available via EQ Boost over short periods. The Integrated Starter Generator (ISG) is responsible for hybrid functions such as EQ Boost or energy recuperation, while allowing fuel savings that were previously reserved for high-voltage hybrid technology.
ISG eliminates the need for a belt drive for ancillary components at the front of the engine, which reduces its overall length. The slim design, together with the physical separation of intake/exhaust, creates space for near-engine exhaust aftertreatment. The 48-volt on-board power supply serves not only high power consumers such as the water pump and air-conditioning compressor, but also the Integrated Starter Generator (ISG), which also supplies energy to the battery by means of highly efficient energy recuperation.
4MATIC all-wheel drive: agile on the road, superior when off-road
In all variants of the new GLE, power is transmitted by the 9G-TRONIC automatic transmission. The broad ratio spread of gears 1 to 9 allows a clearly perceptible reduction in engine speed and is a decisive factor behind the high level of energy efficiency and ride comfort. With the 4-cylinder engines, 4MATIC all-wheel drive is realised with a transfer case which transmits the drive torque to the axles in a fixed ratio of 50:50 percent. Spinning wheels are braked by braking intervention at the relevant wheel.
A transfer case with an electronically controlled multi-disc clutch is used for the other engines, for example, in the GLE 450. This allows a variable transfer of drive torque from 0-100 per cent (Torque on Demand) between the axles. Also new, and available as an option, is a transfer case specially configured for superior off-road driving characteristics. In addition to the controlled multi-disc clutch with torque-on-demand function, this has a reduction gear set and an automatic locking effect from 0-100 per cent for off-road driving.
Also when driving on the road, and particularly when cornering, the two fully networked transfer cases with Torque on Demand allow a further improvement in handling safety and agility by specifically influencing the degree of yaw to induce oversteer or understeer.
Driving assistance systems: superior support in tailbacks
The new GLE is the debut of the latest generation of Mercedes-Benz driving assistance systems giving cooperative support to the driver. The level of active safety has not only been improved compared to the preceding model - some of its Intelligent Drive functions are even unrivalled outside the SUV segment.
Not only high-mileage drivers are familiar with this tricky situation on motorways: on rounding a bend, the end of a traffic tailback suddenly appears. This is where the new GLE assists its driver, as tailback management on motorways now already begins in advance of a tailback, and includes assistance in stop-and-go traffic and after the tailback has dissolved.
This is because when Active Distance Assist DISTRONIC with route-based speed adaptation is activated, the new GLE is able to recognise and respond to tailbacks or slow-moving traffic with the help of information from LiveTraffic before the driver becomes aware of the hazard. When a tailback is recognised (and if the driver does not choose a different response), DISTRONIC reduces the speed to around 100 km/h as a precaution. This gives Active Brake Assist the scope to brake the vehicle to a standstill in good time when the end of a tailback is recognised.
When actually driving in a tailback, Active Stop-and-Go Assist can markedly reduce the driver's workload: where there are lane markings, the system is substantially able to perform the tasks of keeping in lane and maintaining the safety distance with a large number of availability of speeds up to around 60 km/h. Moving off can be automatic up to one minute after coming to a stop.
Once the tailback dissolves, the GLE accelerates back up to the speed preset for Active Distance Assist DISTRONIC with route-based speed adaptation. If the driver has not set a specific speed, the default setting is the recommended motorway speed of 130 km/h in Germany. If speed limits differ from this, the signposted speed limit is automatically given priority.
To recognise tailbacks, Active Stop-and-Go Assist evaluates the road category, speed and distances from vehicles travelling ahead and in adjacent lanes. In addition to the stereo multipurpose camera (SMPC) and long-range radar, it uses the front multimode corner radar sensors to recognise vehicles that are cutting in. If Active Steering Assist and Active Distance Assist are activated, Active Stop-and-Go Assist is switched on automatically when a motorway tailback is recognised. This is indicated by "Stop-and-Go Assist active" in the instrument cluster. As soon as Stop-and-Go Assist is activated and the vehicle is moving in a tailback, a tailback symbol is added to the "green steering wheel" symbol of Active Steering Assist in the instrument cluster.
A new feature of Active Steering Assist is that it can even assist the driver in forming a rescue lane on multilane roads. In line with legal requirements, the vehicle is guided to the edge of the lane it currently occupies. When a tailback is recognised on motorways at speeds below 60 km/h, off-centre guidance of the vehicle is assisted. Where there are recognisable lane markings, the vehicle is guided along the outer marking and the recognised outer lane marking is not crossed. If no lane markings are recognised, the vehicle takes its lead from the vehicle ahead.
Always ready to help: numerous other assistants are available
It is not only by giving driver support in tailbacks that the new GLE further expands Mercedes-Benz Intelligent Drive and takes another major step towards autonomous driving. Active Distance Assist DISTRONIC and Active Steering Assist now provide even more comfortable support for the driver to keep a safe distance and steer. The speed is now adjusted automatically ahead of bends or junctions. This is complemented by Evasive Steering Assist, a considerably improved Active Lane Keeping Assist and the additional functions of the Active Emergency Stop Assist.
The turning-off function of Active Brake Assist is completely new: If there is a danger of a collision with oncoming traffic when turning off across a carriageway, the GLE can be braked at speeds typical of such manoeuvres. Braking intervention takes place if the driver signals the intention to turn off (indicators) and the vehicle can be braked to a stop before crossing the lane marking. Oncoming vehicles are recognised by the front long-range radar sensor and the stereo multipurpose camera.
In addition, like the recently launched A-Class, the new GLE is equipped with Active Blind Spot Assist with exit warning. This function can lower the risk of a collision with other road users, for example, passing cyclists. Active Blind Spot Assist also monitors the blind spot when at standstill, and can warn the driver of approaching vehicles, motorcycles or bicycles when opening the door. This function is active for up to three minutes after switching off the engine. The warning appears in the exterior mirrors and is given audibly via the instrument cluster.
Trailer Manoeuvring Assist: support during slow manoeuvres
Trailer Manoeuvring Assist is new at Mercedes-Benz and optionally available for the GLE in Europe. It particularly makes reversing manoeuvres easier for inexperienced trailer users. Trailer Manoeuvring Assist controls the steering angle of the towing vehicle automatically at a limited speed of up to 5 km/h. An articulation angle sensor in the ball-neck of the trailer coupling supplies the necessary information.
The system is activated at standstill by selecting reverse gear and pressing the “Park” button to the left of the touchpad in the centre console. The system is ready for action as soon as the trailer combination is aligned by driving straight forward for a short distance.
Trailer Manoeuvring Assist can be intuitively operated via the multimedia system MBUX – Mercedes-Benz User Experience: the driver only needs to select the required manoeuvre via the media display or the touchpad in the centre console (direction indicated by entering the desired articulation angle or by selecting the function "Pull straight"). the manoeuvre can then be monitored from different camera angles. Dynamic guiding lines show the trajectory, vehicle width and distance from recognised objects.
E-ACTIVE Body Control: The 48V suspension
Even better ride comfort and agility plus completely new functions such as free-driving mode are provided by the optional E-ACTIVE BODY CONTROL suspension, which is now combined with the newly developed AIRMATIC air suspension. This is the only system on the market where the spring and damping forces can be individually controlled at each wheel. This means that it not only counteracts body roll, but also pitching and squat. Together with ROAD SURFACE SCAN and the curve inclination function CURVE, E-ACTIVE BODY CONTROL makes an extraordinary level of comfort possible, and supports the claim of Mercedes-Benz to build the world's most intelligent SUV suspension.
E-ACTIVE BODY CONTROL has a 48-volt electrical system and is available as optional equipment for engine variants with 6 and more cylinders. On poor road surfaces the system is even able to recoup energy, roughly halving the energy requirement compared to the preceding system in the S-Class. The hydropneumatics generate dynamic forces that overlay the air suspension forces and actively support and dampen the vehicle body, for example, during linear and lateral acceleration or when driving on uneven roads.
Free-driving mode is a completely new off-road function: if the GLE becomes bogged down in a sand dune or in many such situations, for example, it can help to free the vehicle more easily. If possible the suspension level is automatically raised and lowered several times, which changes the ground pressure of the tyres and therefore improves traction – the GLE rocks itself free. Individual wheel actuation is another new function for off-road driving. This allows the level at each wheel to be individually adjusted via the touchscreen of the media display, thus improving the vehicle's attitude on rough terrain when, for example, one wheel is stuck in a ditch or a wheel spring is fully contracted.
E-ACTIVE BODY CONTROL in the GLE also has the curve inclination function CURVE: Like a motorcycle, the GLE leans into bends and thereby allows cornering in three stages with practically no centrifugal force. If the GLE is equipped with a stereo multipurpose camera, ROAD SURFACE SCAN becomes possible: the camera continuously scans the road surface, the suspension responds in advance of any undulations and the vehicle driving over them, and they are substantially compensated.
In addition to E-ACTIVE BODY CONTROL, a likewise newly developed steel suspension and a newly developed AIRMATIC suspension with the Adaptive Damping System Plus (ADS+) are available.