The next generation of the Mercedes-Benz GLE will take strong cues from the firm’s new design direction and further bolster Mercedes’ ever expanding crossover range.
It was the year 1997, a time when we all had a clear idea about our cars and where they fit within the market. In Europe, sedans, coupes and station wagons all had their place in the market, while SUVs – which are all the rage at present – were barely a speck on the horizon. Sure, Range Rovers and Jeep Grand Cherokees had been on trend for a while, but Pandora’s box wasn’t opened till the Germans entered the luxury SUV space towards the end of the 20th century. But once they did, this segment suddenly exploded – as these SUVs not only offered luxury but also a sense of being higher up in the automotive pecking order. Since then, of course, SUVs have only strengthened their position as the ultimate status symbol.
For better or worse, the start of this rapid evolution of luxury SUVs can be attributed to the Mercedes-Benz ML-Class. And, today, 20 years and three generations later, the German SUV is on the threshold of what seems to be the most important innovation in its entire career.
Built on a new modular platform (the MHA platform for SUVs, which is derived from the MRA platform on which most of the big Mercedes sedans are built), the GLE will undertake a weight savings diet – employing light metals like aluminum, which will enable it to lose a few hundred kilos compared to its current weight (which presently starts from 2,075kgs). There will also be a decisive push forward in the powertrain department. Among the petrol turbo engines, a new 3.0-litre inline six-cylinder engine, featuring a mild hybrid system, will replace the current V6 and V8 engines. The new engine will form the core of the whole range. Power output should be around 410bhp, or thereabouts. On the other side of the spectrum will be a 2.0-litre four-cylinder hybrid plug-in, generating 325bhp. There will also be two unprecedented AMG variants – expected to be christened the GLE 53 and GLE 63. The former will feature a matching inline six-cylinder engine, while the other will have AMG’s 4.0-litre V8 bi-turbo, available in two states of engine tune. Equally remarkable will be the diesel line-up, with the two new modular units – the 2.0-litre four-cylinder unit generating in excess of 190bhp and the 3.0-litre inline six-cylinder generating either 283bhp or 336bhp. As far as transmission options go, Mercedes will continue to rely only on the automatic nine-speed 9G-tronic that currently does duty in the majority of Merc sedans and SUVs. Most models will be all-wheel drive, with the exception of the less powerful diesels – which will only be offered in rear-wheel drive.
New bits for the cockpit
Beyond the innovations expected in terms of the car’s architecture and powertrains, the GLE will experience another revolution – one concerning the interiors. The interior will certainly be a step up from the current generation, headlined by a cutting-edge infotainment interface that’ll feature a 12.3-inch frameless monitor on the dashboard. And the icing on the cake will be steering wheel mounted capacitive sensors, which will enable you to use the car’s menu like a smartphone.
Artificial Intelligence A separate story
The GLE driver assistance systems will almost cross the borders of autonomy. This mid-size luxury SUV will inherit quite a lot of tech from the new E-Class and the updated S-Class – both of which raised the bar for intelligent autonomous driving. Among other interesting bits, it’ll come equipped with DISTRONIC active proximity control, enriched by automatic steering wheel management, and the Car-To-X communication system – which will allow the vehicle to interact with other cars and exchange info on traffic and route conditions. There will also be a predictive navigation system to adjust the speed to the proximity of turns or intersections. What’s more, there’s an automatic stop or emergency system that brings the vehicle to a halt in case the driver is taken ill. And just like the new BMWs, and the recently unveiled Audi A8, the next-gen GLE will come with a remote controlled parking system – albeit, in this car, the system will allow the driver to maneuver the car via a smartphone.
© Riproduzione riservata