Mercedes-Benz couldn't have predicted the runaway success of luxury SUVs when it launched the first-generation M-Class over two decades ago. But the M-Class, now known as the GLE-Class has become one of the cornerstones of this field. Today, Mercedes-Benz has unveiled the new 2020 GLE before its official debut at the Paris Motor show next month.
Evolution is the theme of the 2020 GLE's designs. Mercedes smoothed out the shape, which in turn has also made it look somewhat muscular. The automaker claims the new shape makes the GLE the most aerodynamic model in its class with a drag coefficient of 0.29 cd. The front comes with a new grille shape and big LED headlights. Wheels range in size from 19 to 22-inches.
The GLE-Class has grown about five inches in overall length, while the wheelbase has increased by three inches. This allows for more legroom for the second-row, and the option of a third-row seat.
Mercedes has gone all out on the tech for the interior. A pair of 12.3-inch displays houses the MBUX infotainment system. It can be controlled via a controller on the center console, touch, voice by saying "Hey Mercedes"; and hand gestures. (I think there is such a thing as too many control methods -WM). There's a new heads-up display system that projects an large image (17.8 x 5.9-inches) out about 10 feet.
Powertrains for the GLE-Class include:
- GLE 350/GLE 350 4Matic: 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder - 255 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque
- GLE 450 4Matic: Turbocharged 3.0L inline-six with a mild-hybrid system - 362 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque, additional 21 horsepower available in certain situations
Both engines come paired with a nine-speed automatic transmission.
The GLE 450 will have a 48-volt electrical system that allows it to have a clever air suspension known as E-Active Body Control. This system promises a smooth ride by having individual sensors at each corner monitoring various forces and making adjustments to the springs and dampers. The suspension also has a "free-driving mode" that is helpful when off-roading. If the GLE gets stuck in sand or snow, "the suspension level is quickly and automatically raised and lowered several times, which changes the ground pressure of the tires and therefore improves traction -- the GLE then rocks itself free," Mercedes says in their press release. We're wondering how many GLE owners will actually use this feature.
For safety, the GLE will have a number of advanced driver assistance systems including adaptive cruise control, active steering assist, and blind spot monitoring. New is the Active Stop-and-Go Assist that allows the GLE to take control of acceleration, braking, and steering at speeds up to 37 mph - something akin to Nissan's ProPilot system.
The 2019 Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class arrives at dealers in the spring.
The new Mercedes-Benz GLE
- The SUV trendsetter completely reconceived
Sep 11, 2018 – Stuttgart: The new Mercedes-Benz GLE has a wealth of innovations. For example, E-ACTIVE BODY CONTROL is a 48-volt active suspension system and a world first, while the driver assistance systems take another step forward with Active Stop-and-Go Assist. The interior is even more spacious and comfortable, with a third seat row available on request. The infotainment system has larger screens, a full-color head-up display with a resolution of 720 x 240 pixels and the new MBUX Interior Assistant, which can recognize hand and arm movements and supports operating intentions. The exterior design not only exudes presence and power, but also sets a new standard for aerodynamics in the SUV segment. The GLE will receive a new range of engines and the new 4MATIC system ensures great agility on the road and superior performance off the beaten track. The new Mercedes- Benz GLE will celebrate its World Premiere at the Paris Motor Show in October 2018 and will go on sale in the U.S. in 2019.
"The new GLE is not only more comfortable than ever before on the road, but also shows its superior off-road character off the beaten track. This alone shows our determination to reinforce our claim to leadership in the SUV segment," says Ola Källenius, responsible for corporate research at Daimler AG and Mercedes-Benz Cars development. "Significantly more space in the interior, the new control concept, considerably extended and refined driver assistance systems, the best aerodynamics in the segment, a completely new range of engines and numerous other innovations emphatically underline this."
"The GLE exhibits iconic Mercedes-Benz design while remaining true to its character as an off-roader," says Gorden Wagener, Chief Design Officer at Daimler AG. "With its design idiom it perfectly embodies our design philosophy of sensual purity, thus representing modern luxury. The interior derives its fascination from the contrast between the luxurious and elegant design and the digital high-tech of our MBUX system."
In 1997 Mercedes-Benz founded the premium SUV segment with the launch of the M-Class. Since fall of 2015 the model family has borne the name GLE, emphasizing its positioning as an SUV in the E-Class model family. At present Mercedes-Benz is highly successfully represented with seven models in the SUV segment (GLA, GLC, GLC Coupe, GLE, GLE Coupe, GLS, and G-Class). The new Mercedes-Benz GLE will be presented to the public for the first time at the Mondial de l'Automobil in Paris in October 2018. The GLE is produced in Tuscaloosa (Alabama/USA), and will go on sale in the U.S. in 2019.
The five most important innovations in the new GLE:
- E-ACTIVE BODY CONTROL: Fully networked hydropneumatic, active suspension on a 48-volt platform, for the first time in combination with a newly-developed air suspension. This is the only system in the market where the spring and damping forces can be individually controlled at each wheel. This means that it not only counteracts body roll, but also pitch and squat.
- Active Stop-and-Go Assist: This driver assistance system enables the GLE to recognize traffic jams at an early stage, actively supporting the driver in stop-and-go traffic up to approximately 37 mph.
- Turn-off function of Active Brake Assist: activation of Active Brake Assist with Cross-Traffic Assist when turning across the opposite lane. If there is a risk of collision when turning across the path of oncoming vehicles, the vehicle will be braked when traveling at low speeds.
- Fully-variable 4MATIC®: Available for the first time on the GLE, fully variable all-wheel drive controls the torque distribution between the front and rear axle from 0-100% depending on the selected driving mode.
- Seating comfort: The new GLE has a much longer wheelbase (+3.1 inches / 80 mm), with corresponding interior spaciousness. Comfort is particularly enhanced by the fully adjustable second seat row, and a third seat row is also available as an option.
Exterior design: powerful presence
The aesthetic appeal of the GLE is based on the harmonious interaction between emotion and intelligence. This is characterized by timeless beauty, a combination of high-grade technology and craftsmanship and a focus on what is really important.
The design of the new GLE is defined by modern luxury both on and off the road. The vehicle's proportions with a long wheelbase, short overhangs and large, flush-fitted wheels already leave no doubt that it can handle any terrain. The GLE follows the design strategy of sensual purity, and dispenses with individual edges in favor of generously modelled surfaces. The surfaces interact with precise graphic elements.
The front section of the GLE exudes presence and power: this is ensured by the upright radiator grille in an octagonal SUV interpretation, the prominent, chrome-plated underguard and the hood with two power domes. This striking appearance is emphasized by the distinctive headlamp design by day and night.
The ULTRA Wide Beam of the LED Intelligent Light System produces the maximum light intensity permitted by law.
Viewed from the side, the wide C-pillar, typical of the GLE, conveys self- assured stability. The large wheels in sizes from 19 to 22 inches are housed in wheel arches with prominent liners. This underlines the GLE's robust SUV character, as do the pillared roof rails and the optional Illuminated Running Boards. The chrome surrounds of the windows are reminiscent of a premium sedan.
The GLE also cuts an athletic figure from the rear. This is emphasized by the powerful shoulder muscle extending from the C-pillar to the rear lights. The reflectors are relocated lower than before, giving the rear lights a more flattering appearance. They are also in two sections. This not only gives an impression of width, but also creates an unmistakable night design with illuminated blocks typical of Mercedes-Benz SUVs, in this case with backlit edge lighting. The rear is strikingly rounded off with the chrome-plated underguard.
Aerodynamics: detailed fine-tuning for the best Cd figure in this class
The new GLE has a Cd figure from 0.29, the best in its segment. This is also a significant improvement over the preceding model (Cd 0.32). The excellent aerodynamic properties make a key contribution to low fuel consumption in everyday conditions. A host of details were optimized with numerous computation loops, CAE simulations (computer-aided engineering) and measurements in the wind tunnel in Sindelfingen.
The measures taken include:
- Cooling air control system behind the radiator grille for need-related metering of the airflow (AIRPANEL)
- Wheel spoilers with aerodynamically optimized moldings ahead of the front wheels
- Additional wheel spoilers ahead of the rear wheels
- Side spoilers with D-pillar seal on the tailgate
- Rear lights with special spoiler lips
- Large area of underbody and propshaft tunnel paneling, flush fuel tank cladding, aerodynamic cladding on the rear axle, aerodynamically optimized diffuser lining.
- Aero-wheels with aerodynamically optimized tires.
Interior design: luxuriously elegant and powerfully progressive
The interior of the new GLE derives its fascination from the contrast between the luxurious, elegant ambience of a Mercedes-Benz luxury sedan and the robust, progressive features of an SUV. The central element in the dashboard's design is a sporty, stylish cockpit unit embedded in a striking dashboard support. The dashboard support flows into the door panels, and the integral trim element also extends around the driver and front passenger to meet the doors.
The prominent, raised center console creates a robust contrast with the free- floating appearance of the dashboard. As a typical feature of off-roaders, there are two prominent grab handles on the center console. Apart from comfort and ergonomics, flowing surfaces create a modern, luxurious impression rounded off by a broad area of trim and flush-fitting roller blinds. All the controls and displays are enhanced by the new design. The controls with haptic and audible feedback appear to have been milled from a solid metal block. Very fine chiseling shows the desire for perfection and craftsmanship. The new sport steering wheel with its striking, sculptured spoke design accentuates the impressive appearance of the SUV's interior.
Interior: more space in the rear and an optional third row seat
A size larger: the new GLE has a considerably longer wheelbase than its predecessor (117.9 inches, +3.1 inches). This creates significantly more space, especially for passengers in the rear. Legroom in the second seat row has increased by 2.7 inches to 41.1 inches. Headroom in the rear with the standard, fixed rear seat unit and 40:20:40 backrest division has increased by 1.3 inches to 40.4 inches. And because the A-pillar is more upright than before, spaciousness and entry comfort in the first row has been further improved.
On request, and as a world first in the SUV segment, a second seat row with six fully electric adjustments is available. The right and left seats can be separately adjusted fore-and-aft by up to 3.9 inches, the backrests are adjustable for angle and foldable in a 40:20:40 ratio, and the head restraints are adjustable for height. In typical Mercedes fashion, the rear seat adjustments are controlled by a switch in the door panel. The backrest can also be completely folded down electronically, using a switch in the luggage compartment.
Useful holders and protective elements have been specially developed as accessories for practical stowage of recreational equipment in the interior. In conjunction with the AIRMATIC air suspension, the vehicle's rear can be lowered by around 1.6 inches using a switch, for easier loading and unloading.
Even more flexibility is possible with the optional, folding third seat row, which provides two extra seats. Thanks to the EASY-ENTRY® function of the fully electrically adjustable second seat row, the two rearmost passengers can conveniently reach their seats.
Seat kinetics is another innovation available for the front seats in conjunction with fully-electric seat adjustment with memory function. Seat kinetics supports changes in the seating posture by means of minute movements of the seat cushion and backrest.
ENERGIZING Comfort: now with a guide
The optionally available ENERGIZING Comfort system networks various comfort systems in the vehicle, and uses musical and lighting moods plus a number of massage modes for a wide range of feel-good programs.
The ENERGIZING COACH is a new feature. This function, based on an intelligent algorithm, recommends one of the programs depending on the situation and individual. If a Garmin® wearable is worn, personal values such as stress level or quality of sleep optimize the accuracy of the recommendation. The aim is for passengers to feel well and relaxed even during demanding or monotonous journeys.
MBUX: now with an intelligent interior assistant
The GLE is equipped with the latest generation of the multimedia system MBUX - Mercedes-Benz User Experience. The revolutionary system includes two large 12.3” screens as standard, which are arranged in-line with each other for an impressive widescreen look. The information of the Instrument Cluster Display and the multimedia display is easily legible on the large, high- resolution screens. Showcasing elements in an emotionally appealing manner underlines the comprehensibility of the intuitive control structure and impresses with brilliant graphics.
Depending on mood or to suit the chosen interior, the user has a choice of four different styles:
- Classic is a further development of the classic display style in an elegant and light material mix.
- Sport has a high-tech turbine look with decidedly sporty black/yellow contrasts.
- Progressive presents digitalism in reduced form.
- In the Understated (Discreet) style, all displays are reduced to only what is absolutely necessary.
The optional MBUX Interior Assistant also allows intuitive, natural operation of different comfort and MBUX functions by movement recognition. A camera in the overhead console registers movements of the driver's and front passenger's hands and arms. When a hand approaches the touchscreen or the Touchpad on the center console, the media display changes and individual, elements are highlighted. The system is able to distinguish the driver's hand from that of the front passenger, and therefore knows which seat the massage function is to be activated on, for example.
In addition, there are functions that can be controlled by simple hand gestures: the reading lamp can be switched on and off by extending a hand towards the rearview mirror, for example. The driver and front passenger can both program a personal, favorite function which is initiated using a horizontally outstretched index and middle finger
General operation of the multimedia system has been improved in numerous respects. For example, the settings menus are in a new design and the initial setup assistant has been improved. The 40 or so new MBUX functions in the GLE include, for example:
- Support for off-road specific driving modes (free-driving mode and individual wheel actuation)
- Extended off-road displays in the instrument cluster display and Head- Up Display (linear and lateral inclination, Torque on Demand, suspension level)
- The setting for the full-screen map in the instrument cluster can be changed directly there
- ENERGIZING COACH
- Automatic driver's seat adjustment: if the body size is entered, the seat automatically moves to a usually suitable position
A unique feature of MBUX - Mercedes-Benz User Experience is its learning capability thanks to artificial intelligence. With its predictive functions, MBUX anticipates what the user would like next. For instance, anyone who often phones their mother on Tuesdays during their commute home will receive her contact as a suggestion in the display on this day of the week on their way home. Anyone who regularly switches over to a radio station with news at a certain time also receives this as a suggestion.
Other strengths include touchscreen control of the multimedia display as standard, and the use of augmented reality technology for the navigation display: a video image of the surroundings is enhanced with helpful navigation information, for example directional arrows or house numbers are automatically superimposed directly onto the image in the multimedia display. This makes it easier for the driver to search for a certain house number, or to find the correct road for a next turn. The intelligent Voice Control has also been improved with Natural Langauge Understanding, and is activated by the keyword "Hey Mercedes."
The optional Head-Up Display with a resolution of 720 x 240 pixels and extended projection distance also sets new standards. Important information is projected into the windscreen, reducing distraction from the traffic situation. There is also less eye fatigue for the driver, as the eyes do not constantly have to refocus between close-up and long-distance vision. A system of lenses and mirrors projects a full-color image measuring around 17.8 x 5.9 inches (45 x 15 centimeters) into the windscreen. To the driver it appears to float above the hood at a distance of around 10 feet. Now more than twice the size, the virtual image is 20 percent brighter for better legibility in bright conditions and has space for further information about the current audio source, the current phone call and the reception and battery status of the connected phone. In addition it shows the arrival time and distance to destination if route guidance is active. The driver is able to select the information considered relevant, including additional off-road content such as vehicle inclination, torque distribution and acceleration forces.
Powertrains for the new GLE
The new Mercedes-Benz GLE will be launched with a variety of engine offerings for the U.S., including a 2.0L Inline-4 turbo engine for the GLE 350 and GLE 350 4MATIC that produces 255 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque. The new 3.0L inline six-cylinder turbo engine with EQ Boost in the GLE 450 4MATIC produces 362 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque and is systematically electrified with 48-volt technology. The Integrated-Starter Generator (ISG) is responsible for functions such as EQ Boost and energy recuperation, while allowing fuel savings that were previously reserved for high-voltage hybrid technology.
ISG eliminates the need for a belt drive for ancillary components at the front of the engine, which reduces its overall length as well as reduces the wear parts of the engine. The slim design, together with the physical separation of intake/exhaust, creates space for near-engine exhaust after treatment. The 48- volt on-board power supply serves not only high power consumers such as the water pump and air-conditioning compressor, but also the Integrated-Starter Generator (ISG), which also supplies energy to the battery by means of highly efficient energy recuperation.
4MATIC all-wheel drive: agile on the road, superior when off-road
In all variants of the new GLE, power is transmitted by a 9G-TRONIC 9-speed automatic transmission. The broad ratio spread of gears one to nine allows a clearly perceptible reduction in engine speed and is a decisive factor behind the high level of energy efficiency and ride comfort. With the four-cylinder engine in the new GLE 350, 4MATIC all-wheel drive is realized with a transfer case which transmits the drive torque to the axles in a fixed ratio of 50:50 percent. Spinning wheels are addressed by braking intervention at the relevant wheel.
A transfer case with an electronically controlled multi-disc clutch is used for the other engines, including the GLE 450. This allows a variable transfer of drive torque from 0-100% (torque on demand) between the axles.
Also when driving on the road, and particularly when cornering, the two fully networked transfer cases with torque on demand allow a further improvement in handling safety and agility by specifically influencing the degree of yaw to induce oversteer or understeer.
Driver assistance systems: superior support in traffic jams
The new GLE marks the debut of the latest generation of Mercedes-Benz driver assistance systems giving cooperative support to the driver. The level of active safety has not only been improved further compared to the preceding model, as some Intelligent Drive functions are also unrivalled beyond the SUV segment.
High-mileage drivers aren't the only ones familiar with this tricky situation on highways: on rounding a bend, the end of a traffic jam suddenly appears. This is where the new GLE assists the driver, as traffic management on highways now already begins in advance, including assistance in stop-and-go traffic and after the traffic has dissolved.
This is because when Active Distance Assist DISTRONIC®, working with Route-Based Speed Adaptation, is activated, the new GLE is able to recognize and respond to traffic jams or slow-moving traffic with the help of information from LiveTraffic before the driver becomes aware of the hazard. When a traffic jam is recognized (and if the driver does not choose a different response), Active Distance Assist DISTRONIC reduces the speed to around 60 mph as a precaution. This gives Active Brake Assist with Cross-Traffic Funtion the ability to brake the vehicle to a standstill in good time when the end of a traffic jam is recognized.
When actually driving in traffic, Active Stop-and-Go Assist can markedly reduce the driver's workload: where there are lane markings, the system is substantially able to perform the tasks of keeping in lane and maintaining a safe distance with a high level of availability at speeds up to around 37 mph. Moving again after being stopped can be automatic up to one minute after coming to a stop.
Once the traffic jam dissolves, the GLE will accelerate back up to the speed preset for Active Distance Assist DISTRONIC®. If the driver has not set a specific speed, then this will be the recommended highway speed.
To recognize traffic jams, Active Stop-and-Go Assist evaluates the road category, speed, and distances from vehicles travelling ahead and in adjacent lanes. In addition to the stereo multipurpose camera (SMPC) and long-range radar, it uses the front multi-mode corner radar sensors to recognize vehicles that are cutting in. If Active Steering Assist and Active Distance Assist DISTRONIC are activated, Active Stop-and-Go Assist is switched on automatically when highway traffic is recognized. This is indicated by "Stop- and-Go Assist active" in the instrument cluster. As soon as Active Stop-and-Go Assist is active and the vehicle is moving in traffic, a traffic jam symbol is added to the "green steering wheel" symbol of Active Steering Assist in the instrument cluster.
Always ready to help: numerous other assistants are available
It is not only by giving driver support in traffic that the new GLE further expands Mercedes-Benz Intelligent Drive and takes another major step towards autonomous driving. Active Distance Assist DISTRONIC® and Active Steering Assist now provide even more comfortable support for the driver to keep a safe distance and properly steer. The speed is now adjusted automatically ahead of bends or junctions by Route-Based Speed Adaptation. This is complemented by Evasive Steering Assist, a considerably improved Active Lane Keeping Assist and also the additional functions of the Active Emergency Stop Assist.
The turning function of Active Brake Assist with Cross-Traffic Function is completely new: If there is a danger of a collision with oncoming traffic when turning, the GLE can be braked at the speeds typical of such maneuvers.
Braking intervention takes place if the driver signals the intention to turn (indicators) and the vehicle can be braked to a stop before crossing the lane marking. Oncoming vehicles are recognized by the front long-range radar sensor and the stereo multipurpose camera.
In addition, the new GLE is equipped with Active Blind Spot Assist with an added Exit Warning Assist. This function can lower the risk of a collision with other road users, such passing cyclists. Active Blind Spot Assist monitors the blind spot when at standstill, and can warn the driver of approaching vehicles, motorcycles or bicycles when opening the door. This function is active for up to three minutes after switching off the engine. The warning appears in the exterior mirrors and is given audibly via the instrument cluster.
E-ACTIVE BODY CONTROL: the 48V suspension
Even better ride comfort and agility plus completely new functions such as free-driving mode are provided by the optional E-ACTIVE BODY CONTROL suspension, which is now combined with the newly developed AIRMATIC air suspension. This is the only system in the market where the spring and damping forces can be individually controlled at each wheel. This means that it not only counteracts body roll, but also pitching and squat. Together with Road Surface Scan and the curve inclination function, E-ACTIVE BODY CONTROL is the world's most intelligent SUV suspension and makes an extraordinary level of comfort possible.
E-ACTIVE BODY CONTROL, developed in-house by Mercedes-Benz, has a 48V operating voltage and is optionally available for engine variants with the 48V system. On poor road surfaces, the system is even able to recuperate energy, roughly halving the energy requirement compared to the preceding system in the S-Class. The hydropneumatics generate dynamic forces that overlay the air suspension forces and actively support and dampen the vehicle body during linear and lateral acceleration or when driving on uneven roads.
Free-driving mode is a completely new off-road function: if the GLE has become bogged down in a sand dune, for example, this can help to free the vehicle more easily. If possible the suspension level is quickly and automatically raised and lowered several times, which changes the ground pressure of the tires and therefore improves traction – the GLE then rocks itself free.
Individual wheel actuation is another new function for off-road driving. This allows the level at each wheel to be individually adjusted via the touchscreen of the multimedia display, thus improving the vehicle's attitude on rough terrain when one wheel is stuck in a ditch or a wheel spring is fully contracted.
E-ACTIVE BODY CONTROL in the GLE also has the curve inclination function. Like a motorcycle, the GLE leans into bends and thereby allows cornering in three stages with practically no centrifugal force. If the GLE is equipped with a stereo multipurpose camera, Road Surface Scan becomes possible where a camera continuously scans the road surface, and the suspension responds in advance to any undulations before the vehicle drives over them.
In addition to E-ACTIVE BODY CONTROL, a newly developed steel suspension and a newly developed AIRMATIC suspension with the Adaptive Damping System Plus (ADS+) are available.
The new Mercedes-Benz GLE will celebrate its World Premiere at Mondial l'Automobile in Paris in October 2018 and will go on sale in the U.S. in 2019.