My video shoot with the new GLE: A look behind the scenes

The new GLE has finally been officially launched! I was able to take a close look at this car a few weeks ago. As the winner of an #onair drawing, I was granted the privilege of attending an official video shoot for the media. Here’s my report on this experience.

Of course I’ve also included all the facts and figures about the new GLE, as well as the official photos and Videos.

On today’s program: Shots of the interior

During our initial tour of the premises it immediately became clear to me that the eight-person video team was working in a highly professional manner. They spent almost all morning figuring out how to showcase the car under the perfect conditions. Today’s agenda consisted of shooting videos of the interior.

More precisely, the team’s plan was to create a short video clip that shows off the very flexible cargo area of the new GLE, including the third row of seats, to its best advantage. While the team was positioning the car in the studio, setting up the lamps and diffusers, and discussing the planned exceptional situations, I had enough time to look at the new GLE from every angle and also to sit down inside it.

Bei diesen schönen Scheinwerfern wird´s einem warm ums Herz. Apropos: Man kann sich kaum vorstellen welche Temperaturen aufgrund der großen Lampen im Studio herrschen. Hätte ich doch auch nur eine kurze Hose angezogen …

Just looking at these beautiful headlights warms a person’s heart. Apropos warm, you can hardly imagine how hot it got in the studio because of the huge lamps. If I had only worn shorts…

My first Impression of the new GLE

The new daytime running light looks absolutely fabulous, and in connection with the big grille it gives the GLE a very distinctive touch. The design is also an absolute success when viewed from the side. It made such a harmonious impression on me that I only realized upon closer inspection that 21-inch wheel rims were fitted — and didn’t look at all showy. I also liked the rear of the GLE immediately. The new design of the relatively slim taillights is perfectly integrated into the rear of the car, which is sturdy but somehow also svelte.

Festhalten und dann ab in`s Gelände. Aber mit Stil!

Hold on tight, and away off-road! With style!

The GLE’s interior didn’t disappoint me either. The surfaces of the materials used in the interior were very high quality, as I had expected. The competitors will have a hard time keeping up. One thing that really impressed me was the ample space in the rear. The generous amount of legroom and headroom means that passengers won’t feel at all cramped. The third seat row in the rear can be used extremely variably in combination with the fold-down rear bench seat. For many people, it will be another reason to buy this model. These features really get you dreaming…

But I’ve enthused enough for now about the design. What are the technical attributes of the new GLE? What can it do better, and what are its new features? For all the fans of facts and figures, I went out and got the media department’s short summary of the most important innovations. As you can see, I’ve got a few good sources of information now. In the table below you can see the Top 10 innovations of the GLE:

  • E-ACTIVE BODY CONTROL: A fully networked hydropneumatic active chassis running on 48-volts, in combination for the first time ever with the (also) newly developed air suspension. This is the only system on the market that enables the spring and damping forces to be individually controlled at each wheel. This means that it counteracts not only body roll, but also pitching and lifting movements. E-ACTIVE BODY CONTROL also includes the curve inclination function CURVE, which enables the GLE lean into a curve in almost the same way as a motorcycle. With three stages, it makes it possible to take a curve while feeling almost no sideways force.
  • Active Tailback Assist: The GLE’s assistance systems can tailbacks early on and actively support the driver in stop-and-go traffic up to a speed of approximately 60 km/h. The engine can start up again automatically up to one minute after a full stop. A new feature of the Active Steering Assist is that it can even help the driver form a safety lane on multi-lane highways. At speeds under 60 km/h, the vehicle can orient itself at the edge of the lane according to the legal regulations, depending on the lane in which it is driving.

  • One completely new feature is the turn function of the Active Brake Assist. If there is a danger of collision with oncoming vehicles when the driver is making a turn across the roadway, the GLE’s speed can be reduced to one that is appropriate for turning. A brake application is carried out if the driver has signaled an intention to turn (with the turn signal) and the vehicle can be braked to a halt before it drives across the lane marking. Oncoming vehicles are identified by means of the long-distance radar sensor in the front of the vehicle and the stereo multi-purpose camera.

  • More room: The new GLE has a significantly wider wheelbase (plus 80 mm) and thus a generously proportioned interior as well. A unique SUV innovation is the optional second row of seats, which can be adjusted fully electrically to form six different configurations. The seats on the right and the left can be separately adjusted forward and back by as much as 100 millimeters. The optional fold-down third seat row, which has two additional seats, offers even more flexibility. The load compartment has a volume of up to 825 liters behind the rear seats. When the second row of seats is folded down, it can hold up to 2,055 liters. The through-loading width has been increased by 72 millimeters in order to enable easier stowing of bulky items.

  • Best-in-class drag coefficient: The new GLE has drag coefficients (Cd values) starting at 0.29, which is the best value in its segment. At the same time, this is a significant improvement by comparison with the predecessor model (Cd value 0.32). The model’s excellent streamlining makes a significant contribution to its low fuel consumption in daily use. Thanks to many computational loops and measurements in the wind tunnel in Sindelfingen, numerous details have been optimized. They include various rear spoilers, tail lamps with special trailing edges, extensive underbody and transmission tunnel covers, and an aerodynamic cladding of the rear axle.
  • MBUX: The GLE boasts the latest generation of the MBUX multimedia system. The two big screens with a 12.3 inch/31.2 cm format and a widescreen look are part of the model’s standard equipment. The optional MBUX Interior Assist enables intuitive control by recognizing the user’s movements. In the process, a camera in the overhead control panel registers the hand and arm movements of the driver and the front passenger. When a hand approaches the touchscreen or the touchpad in the center console, the representation in the media display changes. For example, individual elements may be highlighted. There are also functions that can be controlled by means of simple hand movements. For example, the reading light can be switched on and off by moving a hand toward the interior mirror.

  • Six-cylinder in-line engine in the GLE 450 4Matic with EQ Boost: The Mercedes-Benz GLE 450 4MATIC is the first six-cylinder in-line gasoline engine that is completely electrified with 48 volt technology (combined fuel consumption: 9.6 – 8.3 l/100 km; CO2 emissions (combined): 220 – 190 g/km)1 available at market launch. Its performance data: 270 kW (367 hp) of output and 500 Nm of torque; an additional 250 Nm of torque and 16 kW/22 hp of output are available for short periods via EQ Boost. The Integrated Starter Generator (ISG) performs hybrid functions such as EQ Boost and energy recovery, and it enables fuel consumption reductions that could previously only be achieved by high voltage hybrid technology. The new Mercedes-Benz GLE is being launched with the new in-line six-cylinder gasoline engine. Other engines, including diesel and a plug-in hybrid, will follow.
  • Trailer Maneuvering Assistant: A new feature at Mercedes-Benz, which is available for the GLE in Europe, is the optional Trailer Maneuvering Assistant. It makes backward maneuvering easier, especially for drivers who are inexperienced when it comes to towing a trailer. The Trailer Maneuvering Assistant automatically regulates the steering angle of the towing vehicle at limited speeds of up to 5 km/h. An articulation angle sensor in the ball head of the trailer provides the necessary information. The driver simply needs to select the desired maneuver via the media display or the touchpad in the center console. The maneuvering process can then be followed from various different camera angles.

  • 4MATIC: For the first time ever, a fully variable all-wheel drive (Torque on Demand, TonD) is being offered for vehicles with six-cylinder and eight-cylinder engines and the plug-in hybrid. It regulates the torque distribution between the front and rear axles from 0 to 100% in accordance with the drive program that has been selected. The optional off-road package offers a unique innovation in the shape of a fully variable all-wheel drive (TonD) with a low and a high range. All of these features give the GLE more off-road capabilities than ever before.
  • An entirely new off-road function is the recovery mode. In many situations — for example, if the GLE is stuck in sand — the recovery mode can make it easier to drive the vehicle out again. If the situation permits, this function automatically raises and lowers the level of the vehicle repeatedly — the GLE to rocks itself out. A further new function for off-road use is the individual wheel control. This enables the level of each wheel to be individually adjusted using the touchscreen of the media display. This improves the alignment of the vehicle on difficult terrain, for example if a wheel is stuck in a ditch or one wheel’s suspension is fully compressed.

The official media photos

The settings are right. Roll the camera!

A special slide with suction cups was mounted on the sliding sunroof in order to take the planned photos of the interior. The members of the camera team spared no effort when they set up the slide, and they also had to be very careful. In the early phase of a studio shoot, only a few vehicles are available to be photographed. At that point, damage of any kind could amount to a medium-sized catastrophe.

But I can only repeat that the camera team members were absolute professionals who showcased every detail of the car perfectly as a matter of course. They always had to do a bit of cleaning. First of all, everything was accurately positioned, the leather was wiped free of lint, and the textile surfaces of the seat backs were once again brushed smooth. Then it was time to roll the camera!

Mithilfe einer ausgeklügelten Installation fährt die Kamera elektrisch über ein Schienensystem und kann dabei die immer wieder gleiche Fahrt bis auf den Millimeter genau reproduzieren. Das ist extrem wichtig, wenn das Aufklappen der Sitze animiert werden soll und dafür mehrere Einstellungen übereinander gelegt werden müssen. Nur minimalste Abweichungen zwischen den einzelnen Kamerafahrten wären ansonsten sofort zu sehen und würden das Material unbrauchbar machen.

With the help of a sophisticated installation, the camera glides along an electrical rail system. As a result, all of the tracking shots can be precisely reproduced, down to the millimeter. This is extremely important when the folding-out of the seats has to be animated and several takes have to be superimposed on one another. Without this precise coordination, even minimal deviations between the individual tracking shots would be immediately visible and make the material unusable.

Once again, please…

Behind a black curtain that was used to prevent reflections from the big lamps, a big control monitor was set up. At the monitor, a whole team decided whether the camera image precisely corresponded to the requirements of the final video. They paid attention to every detail. For example, special foils were placed in front of the spotlights in order to immediately smooth out the uneven color gradients that were caused by the GLE’s tinted windows. It would have taken a lot more effort to retouch the images on the computer after the shoot.

Of course nobody was satisfied with the first take. To me, the repeated takes seemed endless. During the shoot, some of the team members already began to view, categorize, and sort the material on the editing computer. I guess that if you are generating several hundred gigabytes of video data per day it’s essential to manage it efficiently.

The video trailer

When dreams come true

As a photography and film fan, I’ve always dreamed of being a spectator at an official product shoot. Well, what can I say, except WOW! I was absolutely impressed by the team members’ dedication to their task and by the amount of time they took in order to perfectly present our wonderful cars. The evening came much too soon, and I said my goodbyes —tired but happy. A big “thank you” to the entire team for your super commitment and for this wonderful day, which I won’t forget anytime soon!

Even the memory is thrilling. To conclude, here are some facts and figures. The new Mercedes-Benz GLE will be presented to the public for the first time at the Mondial de l’Automobile in Paris (October 4 to 14, 2018). It will be in the showrooms in the USA and Europe in early 2019, and in China in the spring of 2019. The GLE is produced in Tuscaloosa (Alabama/USA).

1 Angaben zum Kraftstoffverbrauch und CO2-Emissionen sind vorläufig und wurden vom Technischen Dienst für das Zertifizierungsverfahren nach Maßgabe des WLTP-Prüfverfahrens ermittelt und in NEFZ-Werte korreliert. Eine EG-Typgenehmigung und Konformitätsbescheinigung mit amtlichen Werten liegen noch nicht vor. Abweichungen zwischen den Angaben und den amtlichen Werten sind möglich.

Daniel Schowalter loves photography and film, and in an in-house competition he won the opportunity to participate in an official studio video shoot of the new GLE. He works in Sindelfingen on the diagnosis of telematics systems.