The next Mercedes-Benz GLE has been spotted testing with its lightest disguise yet, previewing how the upcoming BMW X5 rival will look when it lands in showrooms later this year, following an anticipated reveal at the Paris motor show.
As shown by new spy pictures, design changes for the GLE will mix the muscular bodyshape of the current car with the sharper, more streamlined features of Mercedes' latest design language. Most obvious on the recently spotted test car are the GLE's new headlights.
Further back, the car gets wider wheel arches, giving it a more rugged stance and suggesting the GLE's track could be slightly wider to enhance stability and grip.
The GLE's wheelbase is expected to stretch slightly - the test car backs this as it looks to have a shorter front overhang. This would lend itself to better leg room inside, particularly in the back, which is a key trait to enhance the car's success in China.
At the rear, the window is more raked than the current model to create a more sporting stance.
Power is expected to come from an updated list of turbocharged four- and six-cylinder petrol and diesel engines, as well as a new plug-in hybrid option. The latter is important to ensure the car can conform to strict emissions legislations in key markets, including China, which dictate that a car must be capable of zero-emission running.
Like the current car, a hot AMG GLE 63 version is due, where it is expected to use AMG's twin-turbocharged 'hot vee' V8 engine, in place of the current car's older 5.5-litre unit.
The more efficient unit is good for 603bhp in other applications, such as the AMG E 63 S, but the biggest improvements over the 5.5-litre come with efficiency and its lighter weight, which should lend to more responsive handling.
AMG's current GLE model is no slouch, accelerating from zero to 62mph in 4.2sec, so its more potent and lighter successor could edge this heavyweight's sprint time into the realms of proper supercars. Its arch-rival, the BMW X5 M, is due on roads later this year with 592bhp, ensuring close competition.
A development car for the GLE 63 has been spotted wearing a Panamerica front grille, linking it to other AMG models such as the GT sports car, which the grille was first featured on.
The GLE 63 is expected to arrive a little later, likely in the early parts of 2019 at a US motor show, because the model is built in America.
Also due in the range will be a new GLE Coupé model that uses the same running gear as the GLE but features a sleeker roofline, offering a more direct alternative to the BMW X6. The limited-run Range Rover Coupé is also in this class, but it's £240,000 price tag makes it a unique proposition.