The larger luxury SUV war is hotting up with a redesigned Mercedes-Benz GLE waiting in the wings.
THE FOURTH Mercedes-Benz GLE is in the pipeline for a late 2017 or early 2018 world premiere, and here’s the proof.
Snapped in Southern Europe last month, the W167 series luxury SUV is losing weight and some of the boxy dumpiness of today’s 2011-era vehicle (that started life as the M-Class until 2015’s facelift), as it prepares to battle the upcoming second-gen Audi Q5 and Volvo XC60, as well as the Mk4 BMW X5 also due in Australia from next year.
With these and other rivals as diverse as the new Jaguar F-Pace, Range Rover Sport, Porsche Macan, Maserati Levante, Infiniti QX70, and Lexus RX, the Mercedes GLE has had to shape up inside as well as out.
So along with a longer wheelbase and wider tracks to liberate more cabin room (as well as space between it and the smaller GLC), the palpably better-proportioned newcomer will ditch the somewhat dated dash and overly plasticky interior of the five-year old current version, for a far-classier overall presentation boasting the high-quality overtones of the latest E-Class. Or, at least, that’s our hope.
Under the bonnet will be a veritable bevy of turbo four and six-cylinder petrol and diesel engine choices, as well as the inevitable hybrids so favoured by American consumers, while it is likely that a range-topping GLE 63 AMG replacement will also surface, possibly with a variation of the Mercedes-AMG developed 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8. Expect Daimler’s 9G-Tronic nine-speed automatic and 4MATIC all-wheel drive system in most variants, though in time an entry-level rear-driver will most probably also make another appearance.
Happily, a complete chassis rethink should provide a better base to handle such myriad performance options, as the GLE switches to Mercedes’ SUV-specific MHA modular high architecture. Loosely related to the Mercedes C-Class platform, it is aluminium intensive for greater strength and rigidity. This, plus an increase in high-tensile body steels, is said to cut more than 200kg from today’s two-tonne plus porker.
A GLE Coupe will make a return later on as well, to give the BMW X6 and soon-to-be-revealed Audi Q6 and Range Rover Sport Coupe some very heated competition, while at the other end of the spectrum we can also look forward to an all-new seven-seater Mercedes GLS offshoot. This truly is an extended family of posh crossovers.
As with all previous M-Class/GLE-Class/GL-Class vehicles, the W167 will be manufactured for us in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA.
Prices won’t stray too far beyond the circa-$90,000 to $190,000 asked for today’s W166 GLE wagon, despite the big increase in active driver-assist safety and other technologies mooted for the Mercedes SUV.
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