Mercedes-Benz Announces GLE Plug-in Hybrid SUV for 2015 New York Auto Show

With the New York Auto Show just a week away, Mercedes-Benz has become the latest automaker to announce that it will soon offer a plug-in hybrid variant of its GLE SUV, which it will unveil at next week’s show alongside the rest of the 2016 GLE lineup.

Mercedes will unveil the GLE 550e next week in New York.

Mercedes will unveil the GLE 550e next week in New York.

The GLE — formerly known as the Mercedes-Benz M-Class — is the first Mercedes-Benz model get a name change following the firm’s announcement last year that it would be rebranding all of its models to make it clearer for customers to understand each car’s heritage and powertrain.

Despite the new naming however, the 2016 GLE family is essentially a mild mid-cycle refresh to the 2015 M-Class, with a few visual nips and tucks on body trim and interior options in keeping with a mid-cycle update.

Where it differs is the inclusion of the plug-in hybrid drivetrain option for the first time.

Like the Audi Q7 e-tron plug-in hybrid and BMW X5 xDrive Plug-in Hybrid, the Mercedes-Benz GLE plug-in hybrid — officially-known as the GLE550e 4MATIC — will offer the brand’s core customers the option of benefiting from the extra torque, power and improved fuel efficiency offered by a plug-in hybrid powertrain while simultaneously enjoying a full-size SUV they know and love.

Nestling between the GLE400’s 329 horsepower twin-turbo three-litre V6 and the 550 horsepower of the 5-litre AMG GLE63 models, the GLE550e combines the power of a three-litre V6 twin-turbo direct-injection gasoline engine with an 85 kilowatt electric motor mounted inside its 7-speed automatic transmission.

The Mercedes-Benz GLE 550e will be on its way to Europe and the U.S. later this year.

The Mercedes-Benz GLE 550e will be on its way to Europe and the U.S. later this year.

Combined, there’s a respectable 436 horsepower and a total torque of 479 pound feet, which we’re assuming should provide some sporty acceleration when used in anger. 0-60 times have yet to be released, but if we had to guess we’d tie it somewhere around the 5-6 second mark. That’s because the GLE 550e shares its hybrid drive system with the S-Class plug-in hybrid, which manages a 0-60 time of 5.5 seconds.

Like the S-class plug-in, the GLE 550e has an 8.8 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack which can provide a total of around 18.6 miles of electric only driving in optimum conditions, up to a maximum speed of 81 mph. When empty, it can be recharged from a standard charging station in around two hours.

In keeping with other plug-in hybrids on the market today, the GLE 550e is capable of operating in several different modes, allowing it to be driven in the most appropriate mode according to road and weather conditions.

The GLE 550e sits mid-range, and isn't quite as powerful as the AMG GLE63 -- pictured.

The GLE 550e sits mid-range, and isn’t quite as powerful as the AMG GLE63 — pictured.

In HYBRID mode, the car itself decides which of the two power sources is best at any given moment, switching automatically between gasoline and electric power as required.

In E-MODE, the GLE 550e operates as an all-electric vehicle, up to a maximum speed of 81 mph or until its 8.8 kilowatt-hour battery pack has been depleted.

In E-SAVE mode, the state of charge of the vehicle’s battery pack can be preserved for later in the trip, equivalent of the HOLD mode on other plug-in hybrids.

In CHARGE mode, the battery can be charged up by the gasoline engine, making it possible to recharge the battery for all-electric operation later in the trip even if the battery pack is already depleted.

Official EPA figures have yet to be announced, but expect them — and official pricing information — to come in due course.

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  • CDspeed

    If Audi’s claimed 35 miles of range holds up after it’s rated by the EPA the Q7 e-Tron would be the one to buy. I think it’s important if the automakers are going to give these cars an EV mode that you should at least have the potential to do most of your daily drive in electric mode. If it only has enough range for short trips it’s just not going to be of much use. Although the added efficiency over a standard model would be great, hopefully the addition of a plug will help at least one variant of these SUVs to loose their gas guzzler reputation.

    • Martin

      More range would be better and when prices drop I think we will see more range . Getting under 50g Carbon dioxide per km seams to be the target for some manufacturers at the moment. However I think that Mitsubishi are doing really well as first commers I think there are now 8 outlanders in Orkney which has a population of about 20000 so one for every 2500 people. Not bad for a plug in car that’s u00a330k or more and only been on the market for a year.