Mercedes GLE M-Class replacement spied in plug-in hybrid form

Economical Plug-In version of the new Mercedes M-Class spotted testing

The upcoming Mercedes GLE Plug-In hybrid has been caught testing, ahead of the car’s official launch next year. We spotted a heavily disguised version of the standard GLE back in April, but this is the first time we’ve seen a range-extending plug-in.

Although unconfirmed, we expect the GLE Plug-In to use either the four-cylinder hybrid from the upcoming four-cylinder Mercedes C350 PHEV, or a tweaked version of the 3.0-litre V6 powertrain in the current S500 Plug-In, which is already capable of as much as 100mpg.

The latter could rocket the GLE Plug-In from standstill to 62mph in as little as five seconds – and the fact it’s been spotted charging round the Nurburgring means Merc has likely got its sights set on the new Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid. That car will do 83mpg, and hit 62mph in 5.9 seconds.

If the GLE badge feels a little unfamiliar, that’s because it forms part of Merc’s new naming structure. Over the next few years, each of the brand’s SUVs will gain the GL prefix, followed by another letter to denote their position in the range. These kicked off with the entry-level Mercedes GLA earlier this year, and will end on the range-topping GLS – set to replace the ageing GL in the next few years.

Aside from the giveaway charge lead and additional filler cap, the new model is almost indistinguishable from the current Mercedes M-Class. That said, the big SUV is said to benefit from an updated grille and headlights, as well as refreshed sills and less bulbous wheelarches. Inside, expect all the usual Mercedes luxury, as well as the potential for an updated infotainment system and redesigned dash.

Now read all about Mercedes' new SUV model naming plans.

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