Mercedes-Benz wants to give itself the upper hand in the large premium SUV market in the face of newer rivals with a mid-life update of its GLE. The revised model has been seen in winter testing for the first time ahead of a likely debut in 2022.
The sector is jam-packed with rivals – and there’ll be even more on the way next year, such as the next-generation Volvo XC90 and the new Range Rover Sport – which means Mercedes’s current offering, first launched in 2019, is starting to look less fresh.
So, this facelifted version of the GLE comes at a good time. The bulk of the firm’s updates will be limited to the camouflaged areas of the prototype, although we’re also expecting a few technology improvements in the cabin.
Up front, there’ll be a reshaped bumper with a new lower intake, a redesigned slatted radiator grille and some fresh LED headlamps. Changes at the rear aren’t as noticeable, with the only major update being a set of new tail lights. Even the current car’s lower valence – normally prime real estate for a facelift – appears to have remained intact.
Inside, it’ll be much the same story. We’re expecting some minor upholstery tweaks and a new steering wheel, similar to Mercedes’s strategy with the recently facelifted E-Class. The infotainment system on this prototype also looks to be the same dual-screen system found on the current GLE, although we expect Mercedes will load it with some new software.
Mercedes shouldn’t fiddle too much with the GLE’s engines for this facelift, either. Like before, there’ll be six options for buyers to choose from, starting with the 300 d. It’s a 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel engine with 200kW and 550Nm of torque which, like every model in the GLE line-up, will be mated to a nine-speed automatic gearbox and a four-wheel drive system.
Above that, there’ll be the 400 d, which features a 3.0-litre straight-six diesel engine with 242kW and 700Nm of torque. Those after zero-emission capability (or low company car tax) will be able opt for the plug-in hybrid-powered GLE 350 de, which mixes a 2.0-litre diesel with an electric motor and a 31kWh battery pack for a combined output of 235kW.
More importantly, Mercedes says the system found on the existing GLE 350 de can cover up to 100 kilometres on electric power alone.
At the top of the line-up, there’ll be a trio of petrol-powered options – two of which will feature AMG badges. The GLE 450 will be the least powerful of the three, sporting a 270kW 3.0-litre straight-six. However, the AMG GLE 53 will push that figure up to 320kW, slashing the SUV’s 0–100km/h time down to 5.3 seconds.
The flagship variant will be the AMG GLE 63 S, and will feature the same fire-breathing twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 as the AMG E 63 S. The engine will see the SUV’s output soar to 450kW and 850Nm, trimming its 0–100km/h time to 3.8 seconds.