This mysterious SUV is an early-stage prototype for the next generation of the Mercedes-Benz GLE.
The current GLE was introduced for the 2016 model year but it’s really just an update of the last M-Class which dates back to 2012.
That’s why Mercedes engineers are already out testing a successor, which we expect on the market sometime during 2018. It should arrive as a 2019 model.
We know this is the new GLE because of its size and proportions but also because one of the testers has a “W167” inscription on its rear. The current GLE is referred to internally as a W166.
2019 Mercedes-Benz GLE spy video from Motor Authority on Vimeo.
The vehicle is heavily disguised—some of the body panels are borrowed from the smaller GLC—but we can still make out much of the design. We’re glad to see the designers have adopted a more rugged look for the new SUV, with wide wheel arches leading into a narrow cabin. Expect the shape to more closely resemble the original GLK whose strong lines were inspired by the iconic G-Class.
The new GLE will be the second model to ride on Mercedes’ MHA platform for SUVs sized from the GLC up (excluding the G-Class). The platform is closely related to Mercedes’ MRA platform found in most of the automaker’s sedans and coupes and made its debut in the GLC.
Powertrains should be similar to those offered on the new E-Class, which means 6-cylinder engines for the regular models and a twin-turbocharged V-8 reserved for the GLE63 from Mercedes-AMG. Diesel and plug-in hybrid options should also be on offer, though the former may not make it to the United States due to the fallout from Volkswagen’s diesel emissions scandal. Meanwhile, a 9-speed automatic and all-wheel drive should be standard.
Should the SUV craze continue, a new generation of the GLE Coupe should follow shortly after the new GLE. Stay tuned for updates as development continues.