On tour with the new Mercedes-Benz GLE: Efficiency meets performance

Jun 23, 2015
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. Across the available engine range, fuel consumption and CO2 emissions are reduced by 17 percent on average compared with the predecessor model series. For the first time in its SUV history, Mercedes-Benz is offering a plug-in hybrid model, the GLE 500 e 4MATIC, which combines maximum efficiency with outstanding performance. This multi-talented vehicle will even better the already low fuel consumption figures of the efficiency champion GLE 250 d with four-cylinder diesel engine, while delivering the performance of a V8 model. The advantages of the new GLE furthermore include optimum on-road and off-road handling, outstanding spaciousness and high levels of active and passive safety.
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 engines with four, six or eight cylinders are available to choose from. The special focus:
  • the 150 kW (204 hp) four-cylinder GLE 250 d diesel model 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 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. In the GLE 500 e 4MATIC, a system output of 325 kW (442 hp) guarantees fulminating performance - but CO2 emissions of only 78 g/km (3.3 l/100 km) and a power consumption of 16.7 kWh/100 km. Moreover the hybrid is able to drive up to 30 kilometres with zero local emissions.
GLE 500 e 4MATIC: plug-in hybrid technology meets SUV
The new GLE 500 e 4MATIC with plug-in hybrid drive combines the power and refinement of a V8 engine with the fuel consumption of a three-litre car and the versatility of a premium SUV. The drive system components comprise a BlueDIRECT V6 direct-injection petrol engine with 245 kW (333 hp) and a hybrid module with 85 kW (116 hp) of electric power. The system peak torque is a massive 650 Newton metres. In addition to impressive acceleration thanks to the boost function, the innovative system drive also offers all-electric driving at speeds up to 130 km/h, optimised 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 centre 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 during 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 8.7 kWh, which can be recharged using public charging stations, the wallbox charger at home or at 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: this is because braking manoeuvres serve not only to deliver deceleration, but are also used to recover kinetic energy. The route or the traffic also influences
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.
The control strategy, for example, seeks to ensure that the battery is as flat as possible at the end of an uphill stretch, so that fuel is saved going uphill and the battery is charged going downhill. Another key point is the requirement that urban areas should be reached with a fully charged battery if possible, so that the vehicle can be driven efficiently in stop-and-go traffic - and frequently in electric mode. The energy management of the GLE 500 e 4MATIC can be divided into three areas:
  • route-based: automatically or by way of four operating modes
  • driver-based: using four driving modes
  • traffic-based: with the aid of radar.
State-of-the-art BlueDIRECT V6 and V8 petrol engines
The powerful GLE 500 4MATIC with direct-injection twin-turbo V8 engine produces an output of 320 kW (435 hp) and a peak torque of 700 Newton metres, and combines appealing performance with the high level of refinement of these engines. The GLE 400 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 245 kW (333 hp) and 480 Nm of torque from 1400 rpm, makes do with 8.8 l/100 km (209 g CO2/km) according to the NEDC combined cycle, and like all models has an ECO start/stop function.
The range of petrol and plug-in hybrid engines* at a glance:
* may vary from country to country
Popular 4 in-line and V6 diesel engines, new 9G-TRONIC
In addition to the equally efficient and powerful four-cylinder diesel engine for the GLE 250 d and GLE 250 d 4MATIC models with an output of 150 kW (204 hp), the proven V6 diesel engine producing 190 kW (258 hp) of power and a hefty torque of 620 Newton metres is available in the GLE 350 d 4MATIC. In the six-cylinder model, an extensive package of measures makes a reduction in fuel consumption from the previous model by around nine percent to 6.4 l/100 km (NEDC combined) possible. In the newly available GLE 250 d with rear-wheel drive, NEDC combined fuel consumption can even be reduced to 5.4 l/100 km. It is the world's first production full-size SUV with conventional drive that emits just 140 g of CO2/km (5.4 l/100 km).
In the case of the six-cylinder, the engine upgrading measures especially include a different engine control unit with combustion control which regulates diesel fuel injection on a cylinder-selective basis during the warm-up phase, depending on the combustion air supply. In addition, a revised EGR valve and a new, demand-controlled vane-type oil pump are used in the GLE 350 d 4MATIC to reduce fuel consumption even further. An optimised combustion process and a significant reduction in friction have been achieved in the four-cylinder diesel engine.
In all three diesel variants, consumption and emissions have been further reduced by the standard ECO start/stop function and an optimised turbocharger. In the INDIVIDUAL driving mode, on the GLE 350 d 4MATIC the sailing ECO function can additionally be activated.
With the start of the new GLE generation, all diesel models are equipped with the nine-speed 9G-TRONIC automatic transmission as standard, for the first time also with the optionally available off-road reduction gear and inter-axle differential lock.
The range of diesel engines* at a glance:
* may vary from country to country
DYNAMIC SELECT combined with off-road driving modes
The DYNAMIC SELECT dynamic handling control system of the new GLE offers up to six driving modes. In addition to the established settings COMFORT, SLIPPERY and SPORT, the driver can choose the INDIVIDUAL mode or, in conjunction with AIRMATIC, OFF-ROAD mode 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 OFF-ROAD+ mode is also 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 AIRMATIC air suspension with raised ride heights for a ground clearance of up to 285 millimetres and a fording depth of 600 millimetres. The reinforced underfloor panelling of this equipment variant protects important components against hard ground contact.
When the individual driving modes are selected, DYNAMIC SELECT activates sets of fundamentally different characteristics. The system networks all the control systems, generating different sets of parameters for distinct driving experiences. SPORT makes the GLE a sporty and dynamic performer. COMFORT is the opposite end of the spectrum. Here the emphasis is on the feel-good parameters typical of 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 OFF-ROAD 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 visualised 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.
The 4MATIC permanent all-wheel-drive system with a balanced torque distribution between the front and rear axle inherently boosts the safe as well as harmonious and sporty handling.
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.
In the GLE 350 d 4MATIC, GLE 400 4MATIC and GLE 500 4MATIC models, the ACTIVE CURVE SYSTEM with active roll stabilisation can be combined with the 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.
For the first time in this segment, Mercedes-Benz is offering a fully power extendible and retractable trailer coupling, which also includes ESP® trailer stabilisation. The towing capacity of the GLE is up to 3500 kg.
High protective potential through comprehensive active and passive 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 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:
Safe driving:                             avoid dangers, provide timely warnings, and aid the
                                                   driver with extensive assistance systems
In the event of danger:           activation of precautionary protective measures (PRE-SAFE®)
In the event of an accident:   provide appropriate 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
The extensive safety equipment of the new GLE is extended with assistance systems such as Crosswind Assist or COLLISION PREVENTION ASSIST PLUS. This high level of anticipatory safety included as standard can be enhanced even further, for example with the Driving Assistance package Plus, which includes DISTRONIC PLUS with Steering Assist and Stop&Go Pilot, PRE-SAFE® Brake with pedestrian detection, BAS PLUS with Cross-Traffic Assist, Active Blind Spot Assist, Active Lane Keeping Assist and PRE-SAFE® PLUS.
Modern times: new design with classic style elements
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. The radiator grille, bumpers, headlamps, wings and the bonnet with its two power domes follow the current sensual 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 tailpipes integrated into 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.
Detailed refinements for an even more harmonious interior
In the interior the larger media display stands out, now being partially integrated into the instrument panel. The centre air vents next to the display and the outer air vents are framed by a silver shadow surround. In combination with the high-gloss black surround this emphasises the sophisticated design of the interior. The centre console houses the COMAND Controller with the touchpad fitted above in an optimum ergonomic position.
New colours 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 light longitudinal-grain aluminium, 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 shiny 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 safety features of the new GLE are based on the preceding model, enhanced with numerous comfort and safety features. New features include the DYNAMIC SELECT Controller in the centre console and the semi-integrated media info display in the dashboard. The revised multifunction steering wheel as well as the Audio 20 CD infotainment system with 17.8 cm (7-inch) display and communications module for the use of Mercedes connect me services are also part of the standard equipment.
With the Comfort package for the German market, the equipment is enhanced by the automatic EASY-PACK tailgate, the gentle, 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. In addition to convenience functions, for the first time the optional Mirror package also comprises projection of the Mercedes star onto the floor, a feature which is integrated into the ambient lighting and is activated on opening and closing the vehicle.
With the AMG Line exterior, the GLE has an even more dynamic and athletic appearance. The package includes special front and rear bumpers in 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 black radiator grille louvres, exterior mirror housings, roof rails and window surrounds. The line-up of options is rounded off 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 ARTICO man-made leather upholstery (optionally nappa leather), a black nappa leather multifunction sport steering wheel, an instrument cluster with a distinctive 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 allows rapid data communication via Long Term Evolution (LTE) with download speeds of up to 300 MBit/s, and includes a modern control and display concept, fast HDD navigation with real-time LIVE TRAFFIC data, various interfaces such as an SD card slot, Bluetooth or USB as well as a DVD player and traffic sign recognition with wrong-way warning function. Customers can optionally supplement COMAND Online 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.
Whether remote control of vehicle functions or traffic information in real time - Mercedes connect me services make 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.