The Mercedes-Benz GLE has racked up more than two million sales worldwide since it first went on sale badged as the M-Class in 1997. To suggest it has been a success is stating the obvious.
However, this new model is entering a vastly different market to the one back then. Today, the premium brand SUV ranks have grown to include multiple offerings from a wide variety of car makers in many different sizes and configurations. To truly stand out and pique the interest of potential customers it takes something truly out of the ordinary.
So what next for the best selling Mercedes-Benz SUV yet? In a bid to match the competition head on, the fourth-generation model driven here has been developed anew from the ground up in an engineering programme that also includes the second-generation GLE Coupe and third-generation GLS, both due for sale in 2019. This is just as well, because the outgoing third-generation GLE was already showing its age next to newer rivals such as the Audi Q7, BMW X5 and Range Rover Sport.
The surprise is just how much technology Mercedes-Benz has thrown at it in an attempt to elevate its appeal. There are features included on the new model that are not yet available on the flagship S-Class, or any other Mercedes-Benz model for that matter. So, in this respect, the seven-seat SUV finds itself in the unusual position of playing a pioneering technical role.