New tech for Merc GLE

Trick sus­pen­sion ex­plained

Autocar - - THIS WEEK - RACHEL BURGESS

The sec­ond-gen­er­a­tion GLE will in­tro­duce two im­por­tant new tech­nolo­gies to the Mercedes brand: an ad­vanced sus­pen­sion sys­tem, sur­pass­ing even that found on the flag­ship S-class, and a plug-in hy­brid vari­ant with a “par­tic­u­larly long range”, thought to offer over 50 miles of elec­tric-only travel.

The new sus­pen­sion sys­tem is a more ad­vanced ver­sion of the Magic Body Con­trol found on the S-class. It is the first on sale where the spring and damp­ing forces are in­di­vid­u­ally con­trolled at each wheel, coun­ter­act­ing not only body roll but also pitch and squat.

Mean­while, the long-range diesel plug-in hy­brid, set to ar­rive af­ter the launch of the GLE early next year, is a dra­matic de­vel­op­ment of the orig­i­nal GLE plug-in hy­brid, which of­fered a range of up to 18 miles.

The BMW X5 ri­val will be launched in the UK with an in­line six-cylin­der petrol en­gine and a 48V mo­tor, the same unit as seen as in the new CLS, and a 2.0 four-cylin­der diesel. More vari­ants, in­clud­ing the plug-in hy­brid, will fol­low. All will use a nine-speed au­to­matic gear­box.

The GLE450 4Matic will pro­duce 362bhp and 369lb ft, with a fur­ther 21bhp and 184lb ft avail­able for short pe­ri­ods via EQ Boost, which uses the 48V sys­tem. In­for­ma­tion on the GLE300D is not yet con­firmed.

Mercedes claims the GLE’S 4Matic all-wheel drive “ensures great agility on road and su­pe­rior per­for­mance off the beaten track”. The sys­tem con­trols the torque dis­tri­bu­tion be­tween the front and rear axle from 0% to 100% de­pend­ing on the driv­ing mode. The op­tional Of­froad pack­age has fully vari­able all­wheel drive with low and high range avail­able, a fea­ture that Mercedes says is a world first.

The GLE uses the car maker’s MHA (Mod­u­lar High Ar­chi­tec­ture) plat­form. which is heav­ily re­lated to the MRA (Mod­u­lar Rear Ar­chi­tec­ture) plat­form that un­der­pins the C-class, E-class and S-class. How­ever, the MHA has been cre­ated to en­sure a high ground clear­ance for SUVS.

The model has more space than its pre­de­ces­sor, with a con­sid­er­ably longer wheel­base at 2995mm, an in­crease of 80mm, which means sec­ondrow leg room is in­creased by 69mm to 1045mm. The sec­ond row of seat­ing is fully ad­justable elec­tron­i­cally, con­trolled by a switch in the door panel. The GLE is also of­fered for the first time with the op­tion of a third row, adding two ex­tra seats.

The in­te­rior in­cludes two 12.3in dig­i­tal dis­plays as stan­dard, as re­cently launched in the new A-class. There is a multi-func­tion steering wheel with touch pan­els and a larger touch­pad in the cen­tre con­sole re­places the ro­tary dial on the out­go­ing GLE.

The in­stru­ments and in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem op­er­ate via the MBUX (Mercedes-benz User Ex­pe­ri­ence) in­ter­face that sup­ports con­ver­sa­tional speech and in­for­ma­tion gath­er­ing via the Mercedes Me app.

The GLE also in­tro­duces the lat­est gen­er­a­tion of Mercedes’ driv­ing as­sis­tance sys­tems, in­clud­ing Ac­tive Tail­back As­sist, which recog­nises tail­backs early on and re­duces speed to 62mph as a pre­cau­tion. Once in the tail­back, the car can au­tonomously keep in lane and main­tain a safe dis­tance in speeds of up to 37mph.

A GLE63 vari­ant and GLE Coupé will fol­low the launch of the GLE. Pric­ing is ex­pected to be slightly less than to­day’s start­ing price, with the 300d start­ing from around £54,000 when the new model goes on sale in spring next year.

OF­FI­CIAL PIC­TURES GLE now has a longer wheel­base and up to three rows of seats

GLE is of­fered with pitch-, roll- and squat-can­celling sus­pen­sion

Two 12.3in dig­i­tal dis­plays, first seen in the A-class, are stan­dard

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