Mercedes-Benz is spreading its hybrid technology around. The automaker's new 3.0-liter inline-six features an electric motor on the crankshaft that replaces the traditional starter and alternator and can contribute an additional 21 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque. And in the new 2020 GLS 580, Benz's 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8 gets the same treatment.
The full-size GLS sport-ute is all new for the 2020 model year, and it makes its debut at the 2019 New York International Auto Show. The GLS 580 is significant because it's the first hybrid V-8 from Mercedes-Benz. It uses the same "integrated starter generator" as the brand's inline-six, mated here to the S560's V-8. You get 483 horsepower and 516 lb-ft of torque, plus an extra 21 hp and 184 lb-ft from the ISG when conditions demand it.
This powertrain has interesting implications for future Mercedes products as well as upcoming AMGs. Mercedes-AMG actually designed this V-8, the same basic unit found in AMG's 63-series cars. In the not-too-distant future, hybrid V-8s will replace V-12s at AMG, and the powertrain in the GLS 580 might give a hint of what to expect. We also wonder if we'll see this V-8 setup paired with the clever electric intake charge compressor used in AMG's 53-series cars.
The new GLS will also be available with the 3.0-liter straight-six found in the GLS 450, with 362 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque. Both engines will drive a nine-speed automatic transmission and an all-wheel drive transfer case that can send 100 percent of engine torque to either axle. The GLS 580 also offers an optional low-range four-wheel drive system.
Otherwise, things are as you'd expect with a new, big Mercedes SUV. There's a plush interior with seating for six with captain's chairs or seven with the standard bench. You also get Mercedes's new MBUX infotainment system, which debuted in the new A-Class.
Self-leveling air suspension is standard, while Mercedes's crazy E-Active Body Control that debuted with the new GLE is optional. This system does away with sway bars, controlling body movement through the air springs and adaptive shocks. This means the ride height, spring rate, and damper stiffness are adjusted independently in real time at each corner of the car. This suspension setup gets its juice from the 48-volt hybrid system, and it can actually harvest electrical energy from vertical damper motion. Neat stuff.
GLS pricing will likely be announced when the new SUV goes on sale later this year.
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