Former M-Class receives a new name and a host of upgrades, plus a new petrol-electric plug-in hybrid joins the mix

The new Mercedes-Benz GLE has been revealed at the New York motor show.

The new SUV - formerly known as the M-Class - will go on sale in September, competing in the same crowded market as other top-end SUVs including the Range Rover Sport, Porsche Cayenne and BMW X5.

Alongside revised styling and new equipment, the GLE also ushers in a new era of hybrid SUVs for Mercedes-Benz.

The new GLE adopts many of the same styling cues as seen on the smaller GLE Coupé, revealed at the Los Angeles motor show last year, including the new Mercedes family front-end styling. The GLE gets a more boxy appearance than that of its stylised sibling, however, and includes roof rails and dual exhausts integrated into the rear bumper. LED lights feature front and rear.

Wolf-Dieter Kurz, VP of the SUVs and sports car products at Mercedes was keen to point out that the GLE is more than just a freshen up. "This is more than just a facelift; there are updates in all areas...We updated the exterior design from the ML with new bumpers, wings and lights. Inside, there's a new dashboard with a wider infotainment screen and new Comand system. But the changes go deeper than that."

One change that Kurz doesn't think will cause much excitement however is with regard to the ditching of the ML name. "We haven't received any negative feedback yet" he explained. "It will be easily adapted to by customers and understood. I don't think there was any real kudos in the name of the ML, rather there was kudos in the car itself. If you look back, we've changed names of cars before and all have been pretty easily accepted. There is also a novelty value to a new name and a new product."

Details about the new car have not been fully revealed, but the engine line-up has been extensively changed. Options include a 201bhp 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel in the GLE 250d, which Mercedes says returns up to 52.3mpg along with CO2 emissions of 140g/km.

Also available is the GLE 350d, which is powered by is a 254bhp 3.0-litre V6 diesel engine. Producing 457lb ft of torque, the unit returns up to 44.1mpg with CO2 emissions of 169g/km. Mercedes says that across the range, fuel consumption and CO2 emissions have improved by 17%.

Perhaps most significant is the new GLE500e 4Matic. Kurz explained that it uses electronic and safety technology from the S-Class and is described as the first plug-in hybrid SUV in Mercedes-Benz's history. "This is the first step to electric driving in an SUV" he explained  "and in the future we will see this grow depending on how customers react and legislation evolves."The GLE500e features a 328bhp, 354lb ft 3.0-litre twin-turbocharged V6 engine working in conjunction with a single electric motor, which produces an extra 114bhp. Overall, it produces 436bhp and 479lb ft, and can travel for around 18 miles on electric power alone at speeds of up to 80mph. Mercedes says the model can return up to 85.6mpg with CO2 emissions of 78g/km. Drive is sent to all four wheels through a transmission which is based on the older 7G-Tronic unit. All diesel GLE models, meanwhile, will come with Mercedes’ nine-speed automatic transmission as standard.

Drivers can swap between four different driving modes in the GLE hybrid. E-Mode offers all-electric driving, while E-Save preserves the current state of charge. Charge mode focuses on topping up the battery, while Hybrid mode provides the best overall balance between the engine and the electric motor.

The GLE hybrid can be charged either from a wall-mounted box charger or from a conventional power output. Charging from a wall box takes around two hours. The launch of the hybrid will help Mercedes to stay competitive against the likes of Porsche's Cayenne S E-hybrid and the Range Rover Hybrid.

Inside, Mercedes has given the GLE the same 7.0in free-standing infotainment screen already in use across its range. Also featuring is the firm’s touch-sensitive controller, mounted on the centre console.

While the GLE’s cabin will be familiar to current Mercedes-Benz owners, the company says there’s a wider choice of interior colours and trim materials, which include wood and carbonfibre.

The optional AMG Line specification provides extra interior luxury, including Artico leather upholstery and a new leather multifunction sports steering wheel, while exterior modifications include reprofiled front and rear bumpers and 20in alloys.

Other options include Mercedes’ Airmatic suspension and the AMG Ride Control system, as well as numerous technology upgrade packages.

Also on display in New York is the Mercedes-AMG GLE63 S, which produces 577bhp from its 5.5-litre twin-turbocharged V8 engine, along with 561lb ft. Mercedes says the high-performance SUV can reach 62mph in 4.2sec and has a limited top speed of 155mph. Fuel consumption is rated at just 23.9mpg, with CO2 emissions of 278g/km.

Those performance figures mean the GLE63 S compares well with its chief rivals, BMW’s X5M and X6M, which each get 564bhp from their twin-turbocharged 4.4-litre petrol engines.

Unique styling features on the GLE63 S include a modified front bumper and grille, 20in AMG alloy wheels - although optional 21-inch units are also available - and chromed exhausts at the rear.

Formerly a best-selling model for Mercedes, the brand will have high hopes for the GLE in what has become a highly profitable market.

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Our Verdict

Mercedes-Benz M-Class
The third generation ML has proved to be the best yet

The Mercedes M-Class is luxurious and well-equipped. Shame the chassis lets it down on ordinary B-roads

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Comments
23

23 July 2014

........to sort out the looks of this Ssangyong imitation!

10 October 2014

kind of think this generation was a missed opportunity.

twitter @anikadamali, @notPCnairobi

23 July 2014

The biggest problem with this car is its bloated rear wheel arches. Until they do something about that it will always look awkward.

10 October 2014

These M class's are very dated looking and over styled to my eyes. Much like most Merc products at the moment. They lack dynamism and elegance all in one go. Merceded need a styling overhaul of major proportions - they've lost it.

japester

11 October 2014
japes wrote:

These M class's are very dated looking and over styled to my eyes. Much like most Merc products at the moment. They lack dynamism and elegance all in one go. Merceded need a styling overhaul of major proportions - they've lost it.

Mercedes' current look doesn't do anything for me, but then i'm probably not the sort of customer they're trying to appeal to nowadays with their rather 'bling' approach. For example, does the B-Class really need four strips of LEDs lit up on the front at night as well as the headlights? As for this M Class, as long as it has that old fashioned looking rear end with those bloated arches it will always struggle.

21 May 2015
japes wrote:

These M class's are very dated looking and over styled to my eyes. Much like most Merc products at the moment. They lack dynamism and elegance all in one go. Merceded need a styling overhaul of major proportions - they've lost it.

I thought Mercedes' look with the last C and pre-facelift E class ,want that they were going back to their roots and a nod to their former glory. Sadly, it looks like a bunch of Koreans are now ruling the roost. It is sad. This brand should be market leaders in every segment, with real aspirational values. The current selection, S class included, all look a bit cheap and over styled. It's funny, but in the Balkans, there are as many G-Wagens and M classes (and thats quite a few). Please get rind of the 'dynamic' styling and get back to thoroughly engineered and elegantly styled cars. And this is from a current Mercedes owner. Sad days indeed.

11 October 2014

I really hope the M-class lives up to the other class recent redesign or refreshening. The new MB styling cues would work really well on a M-class redesign. If MB could work wonders on the entry level CLA-class than they should really make a strong effort on the M-class.
It really needs to be really progressive and forward to compete with the Audi Q5 and BMW X5.

23 July 2014

The previous Range Rover Sport made this look odd. The new RR Sport makes the Mercedes ML now look like a dog's dinner and plain ugly. In fact, the ML is outclassed in every area by the RR Sport, including ride, handling, off-road ability, build quality, refinement and material quality inside, so I do find it hard to understand why anyone would choose such an inferior model over the superb RR Sport unless they have a thing for Mercedes, inferiority or ugly looking cars. In fact, on looks alone, all the German marques' SUVs/4x4s have a lot to to do to catch up with the clean, stylish, desirable and sophisticated looks of Land Rover models.

289

23 July 2014

HaHa Saucerer, I see the LR implant in the head is still there, keep taking the tablets old chap!
Why is it that LR products leather interiors smell of plastic and not leather?
Christ, if ever there was a car that looked a dogs dinner the new RR Sport is it....that rear end, my god someone ran out of ideas there.
In fairness I don't like the current ML styling either externally...interior is great. I have a W163 and a W164 so I am an ML fan but I wouldn't buy the current W166 model.
Erly5 is right, it reminds me of a Ssanyong MPV, big mistake.
The early revamp is evidence that M-B acknowledge that they got this wrong.

26 March 2015
289 wrote:

HaHa Saucerer, I see the LR implant in the head is still there, keep taking the tablets old chap!
Why is it that LR products leather interiors smell of plastic and not leather?
Christ, if ever there was a car that looked a dogs dinner the new RR Sport is it....that rear end, my god someone ran out of ideas there.
In fairness I don't like the current ML styling either externally...interior is great. I have a W163 and a W164 so I am an ML fan but I wouldn't buy the current W166 model.
Erly5 is right, it reminds me of a Ssanyong MPV, big mistake.
The early revamp is evidence that M-B acknowledge that they got this wrong.

Would rather have a RR Sport than your knackered Stuutgart taxis. Actually, I'm sure you would too if you could afford one.


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