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By Charl Bosch

Motoring Journalist

Mercedes-Benz straightens-out GLE’s suit

Three-pointed star has confirmed availability from the second half of this year.

Renamed GLE in 2015 after being known as the M-Class or ML from debut in 1997, Mercedes-Benz has unveiled the updated version of its rival for the BMW X5 and Audi Q7, along with the fastback-styled GLE Coupe and AMG fettled 53 and 63 derivatives.

Changes outside

Surprisingly kept unaltered since the current iteration premiered five-years ago, Mercedes-Benz has kept the external revisions small, but easy to spot in the form of a redesigned front bumper, a pair of new chrome louvers integrated in the grille and restyled headlights complete with the high performance LEDs as standard.

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For the GLE Coupe, which benefits from chrome outer grille intakes as well in addition to the optional Multibeam LED lights, Mercedes-Benz has fitted the AMG Line package as standard, which additionally brings a new 21-inch alloy wheel option.

The standard wheel size ranges from 19 to 20-inch with a new colour, Sodalite Blue Metallic, being the final exterior update.

New inside

Inside, the subtle tweaks continue with the inclusion of a new steering wheel, chrome instead of black turbine-style air vents, now with “galvanised real metal”, a selection of new colours and the option of two additional USB ports in the rear armrest.

Besides the added availability of a new 13-speaker Burmester surround-sound system, the dual 12.3-inch instrument cluster and infotainment system has been revised with the latest MBUX software for the latter and readouts for the former.

Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe nipped-and-tucked
GLE Coupe now comes with the AMG Line package as standard.

This means the touchscreen setup not only comes with over-the-air updates, but also wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto for the first time.

Compared to the outgoing GLE, Mercedes Benz has also revised the newcomer’s array of off-road systems in that the Off-Road Engineering Package now sports a transparent bonnet view, a series of readouts located within the MBUX and 30 mm of ground clearance more thanks a revised Airmatic air suspension system.

An extended Trailer Manoeuvring Assist system and uprated towing capacity of 3 500 kg rounds the changes off.

Mild-hybrid standard fare

Up front, the GLE’s engine line-up spans five units with all, but the plug-in hybrids, getting the 48-volt mild-hybrid EQ Boost system as standard that adds 15 kW of power for short stints.

Even without the mild-hybrid system, all of the engines are a bit more powerful than before with the 2.0-litre turbodiesel in the GLE 300d now producing 198kW/550Nm and the 3.0-litre straight-six in the GLE 450d, which replaces the GLE 400d, 270kW/750Nm.

Performance-wise, the GLE 300d will get from 0-100 km/h in 6.9 seconds and hit a top speed of 230 km/h, while the GLE 450d will dispatch the benchmark sprint in 5.6 seconds before hitting the 250 km/h speed limiter.

Completing the range is the GLE 450 that retains its 3.0-litre turbocharged straight-six petrol engine, albeit now with 280 kW and the same 500 Nm as before. Like the GLE 450d, top speed is limited to 250 km/h with 0-100 km/h taking an identical 5.6 seconds.

Facelifted Mercedes-Benz GLE revealed
Visibly, the interior looks untouched, but small changes have taken place.

On the plug-in hybrid side, two distinct models feature; the petrol GLE 400e that succeeds the 350e and the diesel GLE 350 de, both with engine displacement of 2.0-litres but backed by a 31.2-kWh battery pack.

Combined, the system in the 400e develops 280kW/600Nm and 245kW/750Nm in the GLE 350de with both being limited to 210 km/h.

Respective 0-100 km/h times stand at 6.1 and 6.9 seconds with the claimed all-electric range varying from 95 to 105 km for the GLE 400e and 89 to 105 km for the 350 de.

As before, all GLE models are fitted with the 4Matic all-wheel-drive system and 9G Tronic automatic as standard.

The need for AMG

On the AMG side, both 53 and 63 models receive the same exterior changes, albeit with a new front apron and side air intakes on the front bumper of the former.

A new 22-inch alloy wheel option features on the GLE 63 S Coupe with the exterior being rounded off by new LED taillight clusters and a choice of two new colours; Alpine Grey Uni and the mentioned Sodalite Blue Metallic.

Added brutality for updated Mercedes-AMG GLE 53
More torque for the GLE 53 has been unlocked.

Inside, and besides a new selection of colours, imitation carbon fibre, gloss piano key black lacquer or lime wood inserts adorns the dashboard and centre console, along with revised AMG graphics and readouts within the instrument cluster and infotainment system, plus standard climate control seats for the 53 and a new Head-Up Display for 63 S.

Underneath, the AMG Ride Control+ adaptive air suspension remains standard fare on the 63 S and an option on the 53, though both now get the mild-hybrid EQ Boost system on the powertrain front.

In the case of the AMG GLE 53, the 48-volt system’s extra 15 kW exclusion still translates to an output of 320 kW from the 3.0-litre turbocharged straight-six, with torque increasing from 520 Nm to 560 Nm.

Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S updated
AMG GLE 63 S retains its place at the range’s flagship.

The dual-clutch 9G TCT transmission is again entrusted with sending the amount of twist to all four wheels, with AMG claiming a limited top speed of 250 km/h and 0-100 km/h in five seconds.

For the AMG 63 S, the bi-turbo 4.0-litre V8 carries on without any power or torque uptakes. This means outputs of 412kW/850Nm, a limited top speed of 280 km/h, the same transmission and performance optimised 4Matic+ system as the 53 and 0-100 km/h in 3.9 seconds.

Coming to South Africa

Going on-sale in Europe later this year, Mercedes-Benz South Africa has confirmed GLE availability from the second quarter of this year with pricing to be announced at a later stage.

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