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2020 Mercedes GLE580 4Matic adds mild hybrid system, tons of standard features

Benz's twin-turbo V8 gains electric assistance and ditches accessory drives for more power and efficiency.

Mercedes-Benz's GLE 580 gets a big electric boost for its lovely V8 engine.

One thing that Mercedes-Benz has historically been great at is making lovely V8 engines. They sound good, look nice and drive exceedingly well with very few exceptions. What then is Benz to do in the face of increasingly strict emissions and fuel economy regulations? Ditch its V8s?

Nope. Add electricity to them and make them even better, and in fact, that's precisely what MBZ has done on its new GLE 580 4Matic SUV, according to an announcement the company made on Wednesday. It's taken the beloved 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 engine found in all kinds of models that wear the three-pointed star and added a 48-volt mild hybrid electrical system to it.

Why add that extra complication? What benefits does the electrical system confer? To begin with, it can add a whopping 184 foot-pounds of torque and 21 horsepower to the GLE580's already stout 483 hp and 516 pound-feet for short periods as part of Mercedes EQ Boost system. It also allows the GLE's new E Active Body Control suspension to operate much more quickly than a standard adaptive suspension would.

The cool thing about the way that Mercedes has integrated its 48-volt system is that the EQ Boost system works via an integrated starter generator. This means that the same motor that turns the engine over to start it can work when the engine is running to add power and can use the engine's rotation to add energy back into the hybrid system's battery.

Even cooler is that Mercedes changed the A/C compressor, water pump and other accessories over to 48-volt electric drive, which means that the system doesn't need an accessory belt drive on the front of the engine. The whole system receives power from the integrated starter generator.

The GLE580 also benefits from other non-engine-related tech like Mercedes' 4Matic all-wheel drive and the inclusion of Mercedes' excellent MBUX infotainment system, which now recognizes gestures to control some functions inside the vehicle. The GLE has dual 12.3-inch screens, one for the instrument cluster and another touchscreen for infotainment. It's similar to what we've seen in other modern Benzes.

The GLE580 4Matic is set to retail for a starting price of $76,800, which includes air suspension, leather and an AMG appearance package. All this standard equipment is very un-German, so if you want one, act quickly before the folks in Stuttgart change their minds. Expect to see the 580 in US dealers later this year.

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