Mercedes-Benz is giving its BMW X5 rival a little spruce-up inside and out.

    A prototype of the mid-life update 2023 Mercedes-Benz GLE SUV has been spied again, this time undertaking winter testing.

    The large SUV was revealed at the 2018 Paris motor show and launched locally in 2019, which means it’s almost time for an update to bring it in line with newer models in the Mercedes-Benz range.

    The updated model will likely debut in 2022.

    This particular prototype is wearing light camouflage on both the front and rear, hinting toward a rather minor exterior facelift.

    Up front there appears to be a redesigned front bumper, new grille, as well as slimmer headlights with a new daytime running light signature.

    There’s still some camouflage partially covering the headlights, while down back it appears the only change will be to the tail lights.

    This time our spy photographers were able to capture a couple of static interior shots of the mid-life updated GLE.

    The only obvious change to the interior is the steering wheel, which receives a sleeker design and touch-sensitive buttons.

    Every other aspect of the GLE prototype’s interior appears to be the same as the existing model.

    It’s expected Mercedes-Benz will give the facelifted GLE the latest version of its MBUX infotainment operating system although the screen itself and digital instrument cluster appear to be the same as the existing model.

    With its latest models, the C-Class and the S-Class, the German automaker has been heading down the route of equipping portrait-oriented infotainment screens across its range, but it appears such a change will have to wait until the next redesigned GLE.

    This spied GLE prototype is a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) variant as can be seen by its charging port on the rear-left quarter panel.

    A PHEV variant of the GLE isn’t currently offered in Australia, with the largest Mercedes-Benz SUV PHEV on offer being the smaller GLC300 e 4Matic.

    The GLE350de mates a 2.0-litre turbo-diesel four-cylinder engine with a plug-in hybrid powertrain promising up to 93km of electric range. This mid-life update could bring with it an improvement to this range figure.

    There are also a range of 48V mild-hybrid (MHEV) systems on the existing GLE450, GLE53 AMG and GLE63 AMG S variants, with more power expected from these systems in the update.

    The entry-level GLE300d 4Matic for the 2022 model year is receiving a 48V mild-hybrid system that boosts outputs by an additional 15kW and 200Nm for short periods.

    Although it’s confirmed for Europe, it’s not coming to Australia for now with a Mercedes-Benz Australia spokesperson saying in November “there are no changes to announce regarding our local GLE line-up at this stage”.

    Mercedes-Benz has sold a total of 3238 GLE wagons and 1004 GLE coupes to date in 2021.

    Even just taking the wagon sales into account, the GLE is the top-seller in its large luxury SUV segment, outselling the BMW X5 (2906 sales), Lexus RX (1741 sales), Land Rover Defender (1645 sales), and Audi Q7 (1531 sales).

    MORE: Everything Mercedes-Benz GLE

    Jack Quick

    Jack Quick is an automotive journalist based in Melbourne. Jack studied journalism and photography at Deakin University in Burwood, and previously represented the university in dance nationally. In his spare time, he loves to pump Charli XCX and play a bit of Grand Theft Auto. He’s also the proud owner of a blue, manual 2020 Suzuki Jimny.

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