The Mercedes GLS may be one of the largest and most practical luxury SUVs on the market, but you need to have more than just sheer size on your side to be a serious competitive in this sector of the market.
As relaxing and comfortable transport for seven people the GLS matches its closest rivals from Audi and Volvo. The 3.0-litre V6 diesel engine is smooth and powerful, while air suspension gives you the same feeling as if you were on a magic carpet.
Unfortunately, up against the competition of the Q7 and XC90 the Mercedes’ flaws are highlighted. A dated looking cabin and inflated price tag count against it. Mind you both the Audi and Volvo can seat seven people too, and at fraction of the cost.
The GLS remains extremely comfortable, thanks to its air suspension and incredible refinement. The diesel entry-level 255bhp 350d CDI is smooth and powerful enough, while the high-performance 580bhp GL63 AMG model boasts performance that no car this big should be capable of.
Mercedes offers the GLS with a choice of two engines – a 3.0-litre 255hp V6 diesel in the GL350 and a twin-turbo 5.5-litre 580bhp V8 petrol in the Mercedes-AMG GLS63. The latter of the two boasts incredible performance for such a large car, despite the fact that it weighs a mighty 2,580kg. The GL350 CDI is the sensible choice for its 37.2mpg fuel economy, yet it’s still a refined and strong performer with a claimed 0-62mph time of 7.8 seconds.
Fitted with Mercedes’ excellent Airmatic suspension as standard, the GLS is not only refined, but has a very relaxing ride. Even more impressive for a vehicle that weighs nearly two-and-a-half-tonnes is the body control. It feels solid and stable, and the air suspension maintains great composure in corners.
The new nine-speed gearbox is also very impressive and a perfect match for the 3.0-litre V6 diesel. Changes are super smooth and well-timed, making it a very relaxing car to drive. You’ll also never have any worries off-road, with four-wheel drive as standard and two optional off-road driving modes.
The interior is nice and luxurious but a bit outdated. It has AMG Line trim for the 350d adds beefier bumpers and larger alloy wheels, while a new Design trim adds a more luxurious feel inside with plusher leather seats.
The high performance GLS63 AMG is identified by its sports exhaust, upgraded brakes and discreet ‘V8 BITURBO’ badges on the front wings. The cabin design feels upmarket but it can feel a little dated compared to the new slick Audi Q7 and which set the standard in the luxury SUV class. As you’d expect from Mercedes, build quality is excellent and top-notch materials are used throughout.
The GLS features Mercedes’ latest-generation COMMAND infotainment system which is operated through an eight-inch colour display and touchpad controller. It’s a very intuitive system and easy to operate, with clear graphics and simple navigation menus.
Prices start under £70,000 and rise to over £100,000, making the GLS considerably more costly than any of its closets rivals – all of which also offer seven seats.
[image from autocar.co.uk/topspeed.com with info from autoexpress.co.uk]