Its up up & away for Mercedes, the company’s famous model named GLE 550e is getting an overhaul and the company’s recent announcement on the 2017 model that’s a plug-in hybrid is great news for buyers. The GLE 550 e that’s confusingly carries the 500 e badge in Europe is here to make an impression. The world premier is expected soon at the New York International Auto Show.
Until recent times, luxury SUV’s along with plugging in options did not really go well. Yet, with the introduction of the 2015 Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid, the upcoming 2016 BMW X5 xDrive40e, and soon the 2016 Mercedes-Benz GLE550e Plug-In Hybrid, this corner of the market has entirely changed.
All three offer a modest range of around 20 miles of all-electric driving, as part of multi-mode hybrid systems that aim to provide performance that’s as quick—or quicker—than their base gasoline counterparts. Mercedes is not only giving its competitors a sweat, the car will be the third plug-in hybrid to be added to the Mercedes-Benz model range. The GLE550e follows the 2015 Mercedes-Benz S550 Plug-In Hybrid and the 2016 C350e, and it will be followed by at least one more plug-in hybrid—a version of the new 2016 GLC (GLK replacement)—in the near future, likely for the 2017 model year.
Lets take a closer look at this vehicle shall we?
The GLE 550 e is likely to be equipped with V6 gas engine and a seven-speed automatic transmission, combined with an electric motor for total system power of 436 hp, 479 ft lbs of torque and of course it’s AWD. Its Electric motor is only 85 kW (340 Nm), although according to Mercedes-Benz, that’s strong enough to reach 130 km/h (80 mph) in all-electric mode. The relatively small battery pack of 8.8 kWh can be recharged in two hours, but electric range is stated at just 30 km (19 miles). If you often use all-electric mode, fuel economy could be 3.3-l/100 km (over 70 mpg). The GLE 550e 4Matic with plug-in hybrid drive combines the power and refinement of a V8 but consumes fuel of a 3-liter car and carries the versatility of a premium SUV.
The car has a selector switch on the center console and the instrument cluster that offers the driver a choice between four specific operating modes:
- HYBRID: The system control automatically selects the most sensible operating mode with combustion engine and/or electric motor for optimizing the overall energy balance.
- E-Mode: This happens to be the all-electric drive.
- E-Save: this mode preserves the current state of charge of the battery to be able to drive on all-electric power at a later time, for example in urban traffic
- Charge: Battery is charged while driving and when the vehicle is stationary.
The compact hybrid module is fully integrated into the seven-speed 7G-TRONIC PLUS automatic transmission. The electrical energy is stored in a lithium-ion battery with energy content of 8.8 kWh, which can be recharged using public charging stations, the wall box charger at home or on a conventional 220-volt power outlet. The charging time using the wall box charger or the charging station is around two hours.
IDS or Intelligent drive system management is perhaps one of the best strategies adopted by Mercedes. The strategy for efficient driving has always been anticipatory driving without unnecessary braking and accelerating. This is even more important in a hybrid model: because braking maneuvers serve not only to deliver deceleration, but are also used to recover kinetic energy. The route or the traffic also has influence on the most efficient charging and discharging of the high-voltage battery. For this reason the intelligent drive system management aids the driver with specific control strategies in adopting the most efficient driving style.” This strategy is sure to bring a competitive edge over the other manufacturers.
Inside the Merc:
On the inside, the GLE 550e is pretty spacious, with second-row seats that would be plenty comfortable for adults on long trips. The one thing that isn’t offered in the GLE is a third row; you’ll need to move up to the GL—due to be re-launched late this year as the GLS—for that. And we’ll have to assume at some point that a GLS plug-in is in the works, too. With the perfect combination of luxury, technology, elegance and plenty more, this is one heck of a ride.
Technology mated with fine luxury is what the current market demands and Mercedes seems to fulfill that promise quite well.