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TRANSPORT & LOGISTICS | Staff Reporter, Hong Kong
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Mercedes-Benz reinvents the SUV trendsetter

It features the world's first active suspension system on a 48-volt basis.

The new Mercedes-Benz GLE has a wealth of innovations. For example, the active suspension system E-ACTIVE BODY CONTROL (optional) on a 48-volt basis is a world first. The interior is even more spacious and comfortable, with a third seat row available on request. The infotainment system has larger screens, and the optional MBUX Interior Assistant, which can recognise 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 new 4MATIC ensures great agility on the road and superior performance off the beaten track.

Exterior design: powerful presence
Modern luxury both on and off the road: that is the design message of the new GLE. The vehicle's proportions with a long wheelbase, short overhangs and large, flush-fitted wheels already leave no doubt that it cuts a good figure on any terrain.

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 bonnet with two powerdomes. This striking appearance is emphasised by the distinctive headlamp design by day and night.

The GLE also cuts an athletic figure from the rear. This is particularly ensured by the powerful shoulder muscle extending from the C-pillar to the rear lights. The reflectors are relocated lower down, giving the rear lights a flatter appearance. They are also in two sections.

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 good aerodynamic properties make a key contribution to low fuel consumption under everyday conditions.

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 saloon 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 likewise extends around the driver and front passenger to meet the doors.

As a typical feature of off-roaders, there are two prominent grab handles on the centre console. Apart from good ergonomics, flowing leather surfaces create a modern, luxurious impression.

Interior: more space in the rear and third seat row on request
A size larger: the new GLE has a considerably longer wheelbase than its predecessor (2995 millimetres, plus 80 mm). This creates significantly more space, especially for passengers in the rear. Legroom in the second seat row has increased by 69 millimetres to 1045 millimetres. Headroom in the rear with the standard, fixed rear seat unit and 40:20:40 backrest division has increased by 33 millimetres to 1025 millimetres. 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 100 millimetres, 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 electrically, using a switch array in the luggage compartment.

The luggage capacity is up to 825 litres behind the rear seats, and up to 2055 litres when the second seat row is folded down. A 72 mm increase in through-loading width allows bulky items to be stowed more easily.

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.

MBUX: now with Interior Assist
The GLE is equipped with the latest generation of the multimedia system MBUX -Mercedes-Benz User Experience. Improvements include two large 12.3-inch/31.2 cm screens as standard, which are arranged next to each other for an impressive widescreen look.

Depending on mood or to suit the chosen interior, the user has a choice of four different styles:

  • Modern 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 digitality in reduced form.
  • In the Discreet style, all displays are reduced to the absolutely necessary.

The optional MBUX Interior Assist also allows intuitive and natural operation of MBUX functions by movement recognition. A camera in the overhead console
registers movements of the driver's and front passenger's hands and arms. The system is able to distinguish the driver's hand from that of the front passenger.

Powertrain: in-line six-cylinder in the GLE 450 4MATIC with EQ Boost
The Mercedes-Benz GLE 450 4MATIC is powered by a six-cylinder engine systematically electrified with 48-volt technology. Its performance data: 270 kW (367 hp) and 500 Nm of torque, with a further 250 Nm of torque and 16 kW/22 hp available via EQ Boost over short periods.

4MATIC all -wheel drive: agile on the road, superior when off-road
In the new GLE, power is transmitted by the 9G-TRONIC 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.

A transfer case with an electronically controlled multi-disc clutch is used for the GLE 450. This allows a variable transfer of drive torque from 0-100 percent (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.

Also new, and available as an option, is a transfer case specially configured for superior off-road driving characteristics.

Always ready to help: numerous assistants are available
It is not only by giving driver support in tailbacks that the new GLE further expands Mercedes-Benz Intelligent Drive and takes another major step towards autonomous driving. The optional Active Distance Assist DISTRONIC now provide even more comfortable support for the driver to keep a safe distance. The speed is now adjusted automatically ahead of bends or junctions. This is complemented by, a considerably improved Active Lane Keeping Assist and also additional functions.

In addition, the new GLE is equipped with the optional Active Blind Spot Assist with exit warning. This function can lower the risk of a collision with other road users. Active Blind Spot Assist also 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 48 V 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.

E-ACTIVE BODY CONTROL in the GLE also has the curve inclination function CURVE: 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 multi-purpose camera, ROAD SURFACE SCAN becomes possible: the
camera continuously scans the road surface, the suspension responds in advance to any undulations before they are the vehicle drives over them, and they are substantially compensated.

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 in many such situations. If possible the suspension level is automatically raised and lowered several times, which changes the ground pressure of the tyres and therefore improves traction – the GLE rocks itself free.

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