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Mercedes-Benz GLE 500e hybrid 2016 | new car sales price

Mercedes-Benz has announced the price of its GLE 500e SUV plug-in hybrid ahead of its official Australian launch later this month.

Starting at $124,900 the GLE 500e arrives two months after BMW launched its rival to the big petrol-electric Benz – the $118,900 X5 xDrive40e. The price tag places the GLE 500e towards the top of the GLE line-up which starts at $86,900 for the GLE 250d at tops out at $189,900 for the AMG GLE 63.

Powered by a 245kW/480Nm 3.0-litre V6 turbo petrol engine and 85kW/325Nm electric motor the GLE 500e can match the straight-line performance of its GLE 500 V8 brother hurling itself from 0-100km/h in just 5.3 seconds.

While the eight cylinder will swig petrol at a combined average of 10.4L/100km the hybrid sips at just 3.3L/100km making it more fuel efficient than any of any other petrol or diesel-only vehicle in Mercedes-Benz’s range.

Mercedes-Benz Australia Pacific corporate communications senior manager David McCarthy said hybrid-technology means buyers don’t have to choose between efficiency and power.

“Performance, low emissions and good economy don’t have to be mutually exclusive,” he said.

The GLE 500e can be driven in four modes: Hybrid which combines engine and motor; E-Mode for electric-only, E-Save which maintains the current charge level in batteries and Charge which powers the SUV on petrol alone while topping up the batteries through regenerative braking.

The GLE 500e can match the straight-line performance of its GLE 500 V8 brother 

Running on electricity only the GLE 500e has a range of 31km on a full charge. Charging can be done using the cable provided and takes about four hours, a wall unit can be bought for $2000 and halves the charging time.

McCarthy said the current petrol-electric technology is "retrofitted" existing platforms and is just the early first step towards building dedicated hybrid vehicles.

“The reality is to really go the next step you need a platform that is designed from the ground up, not this,” he said.

“When you have an electric-only platform that’s scalable from a small car to a large SUV that will make the difference.”

Two other plug-in hybrid models will be launched at the same time as the GLE 500e – the C350e four-door sedan and S500e saloon.

Would your wish list include a GLE 500e plug-in or a V8 powered GLE 500? Tell us what you think in the comments below.