Currently reading: 2015 Mercedes-Benz GLE revealed in New York
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.


Read our review

Car review

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

Back to top

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.

Back to top

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

Read more New York motor show news

Get the latest car news, reviews and galleries from Autocar direct to your inbox every week. Enter your email address below:

Join the debate

Add a comment…
Factczech 26 March 2015

I Predict

I predict this would steal sales from the X5 the negative comments below only shows how some people are too willing dismiss a brand like Mercedes, this car has been reengineered throughout and judging by the offerings from this stable Mercedes are onto a winner.
Can't wait to see it on the roads it would certainly turn heads....
Bangbox 1 April 2015

It will certainly turn heads

- not to mention a few stomachs...
gigglebug 26 March 2015

I quite like the styling of

I quite like the styling of the white car but it's really no better or no worse than any other large 4X4 that's out there. I don't think that any of them completely succeed in mixing the need to cover a very big frame in something that resembles therefore appeals to the saloon car drivers that are moving towards them. Better off sticking with a utilitarian styling that looks cool in my opinion than trying to mix the two
abkq 26 March 2015

Don't understand why Mercedes

Don't understand why Mercedes designers feel the need to graft a rounded front end to an essentially angular car. There is no coherence to this design whatsoever. The Mercedes curvaneous design theme isn't working and I wonder whether it is Gordon Wagener who is to blame for this and other design horrors.