Mercedes-Benz has found another home for its new electrically boosted V-8: the GLE-class. That's no surprise, as the twin-turbo 4.0-liter V-8 with the 48-volt motor-generator, first seen in the 2020 GLS580, is a powerful and clean-burning engine with a future. This complex powertrain is slated to replace the standard V-8 engines in all of the automaker's current 550- and 560-series cars, the Car News said.
In this new GLE580, the setup produces the same 483 horsepower and 516 lb-ft of torque as in the GLS, with an extra 21 horsepower and 184 lb-ft summoned by what Mercedes calls the integrated starter generator. That makes it more powerful than the base version of the AMG GT, which has 469 horsepower. Mounted between the nine-speed automatic transmission and the engine output shaft, this motor-generator replaces the alternator and traditional starter motor. It runs everything else a GLE owner would want, such as air conditioning and the water pump, without an accessory drive belt on the engine. Driven gingerly, the system can shut off the V-8 at high speeds while coasting or braking to a stop at lower speeds, allowing the 0.9-kWh battery to temporarily run the GLE580 like an EV. It's identical in operation to the six-cylinder GLE450 we've tested, only with considerably more thrust and less fuel economy. Those estimates aren't available, but the last time Mercedes stuffed a twin-turbo V-8 into a non-AMG version of the GLE, it was called the ML550, and in 2012 we could only achieve 16 mpg in it. With bigger digits in the model nomenclature come greater expectations.
At $77,795 to start, the 2020 GLE580 will be the most expensive GLE in the lineupwhen it goes on this fall and will likely stay that way until the 2021 AMG GLE53 arrives late next year (although, with only 429 horsepower, the GLE53 might not be the top dog). That makes the GLE580 nearly 21 grand more than a base GLE350 with the nonhybrid turbocharged inline-four, and more than 16 grand above the GLE450. For that, you get real leather instead of synthetic MB-Tex, the AMG Line exterior package, an adaptive air suspension, and more features that Mercedes has not yet specified. The fully independent E-Active Body Control suspension will be optional. But for those who love luxury SUVs with fat tires, the most important takeaway is that Mercedes will keep giving you the V-8s you crave, now and well into the future—and don't worry, the upcoming AMG GLE63 will still use a V-8, too.