A RAFT of high-tech innovations are promised by Mercedes-Benz for the latest incarnation of its GLE luxury SUV when it goes on sale in the UK next Spring.
Not least of the new features is a system which can, almost literally, read the driver's mind.
It's a development of the MBUX Interior Assistant - the initials stand for Mercedes-Benz User Experience - first introduced on the A-Class, which uses artificial intelligence to recognise hand and arm movements to support various operations through one of two massive 12.3 inch touchscreens.
A camera in the overhead console registers movements of the driver's and front passenger's hands and arms. When a hand approaches the touchscreen or the touchpad on the centre console, the media display changes and individual elements are highlighted.
The system is able to distinguish the driver's hand from that of the front passenger, and therefore knows for whose seat the massage function is to be activated, for example.
In addition some functions, such as the reading lamp, can be controlled by simple hand gestures while both driver and front passenger can programme personal, favourite functions which can be selected using a horizontally outstretched index and middle finger.
The system also features predictive functions which can provide alerts for regularly made phone calls or radio station choices.
Under the re-designed skin there's a new active air suspension system which Mercedes claims is a world first. Called E-Active Body Control it uses the new GLE's built-in 48-volt electrical system to adjust spring and damping forces individually on each wheel. There's even a camera-linked system which can read the state of the road ahead and make suspension adjustments in advance.
Although many of the systems will only be available as options, the latest GLE promises to be a technological tour-de-force with a host of safety and driver assistance systems, but it will also be more practical than before with a substantially longer wheelbase providing increased interior space and, for the first time, the option of a third row of seats.
In design terms, the latest model retains many of the familiar cues of the original, not least the love-it-or-hate-it, sharply raked pillar between the rear door and back screen. But the rear-end is more rounded and athletic and there's a more aggressive, rugged treatment at the front.
The new range will be launched with a new, 367hp, in-line six-cylinder petrol engine and other engines, including diesels and a plug-in hybrid, will follow. All versions will come with a nine speed auto transmission and all-wheel-drive.