Mercedes-Benz GLS an S-Class affair
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IT’S MERCEDES-BENZ’S LARGEST SUV — SO WHAT’S NEW? THE CLUE IS IN THE ‘S’
While Mercedes-Benz has broadened its SUV portfolio lately, debuting several new strains of load-lugger including the GLA and GLC crossovers and a rakish coupe version of the GLE, the range’s end-point remains the GLS.
This, of course, used to be known as the GL, but under Mercedes-Benz’s updated naming convention system it gets an extra letter to denote its size or “class”. The last initial in the nameplate alludes to the fact that the GLS is essentially the S-Class of SUVs. It features the most equipment, boasts the largest interior spread across three rows of seats and, naturally, also arrives with sizeable price tags attached.
The car’s Easy-Entry system — which allows the second-row seats to be split-folded electronically from either side — makes accessing the third row simple, too.
If you’re not travelling with a full complement of passengers, the GLS’ trump card is its cavernous boot, which offers between 680 and 2300 litres of luggage space. That’s a lot of ski gear.
Payload is up to 805kg and with any of the three torque-rich engines on offer up front, you would need to be towing a particularly size able boat before making this SUV work especially hard. The common thread between all four GLS models is the impressive amounts of power they offer; things get serious in a big hurry in this rarified air.
The first of two petrol models features plenty of firepower too; the $198,000 GLS 500’s 4.7-litre V8 pushes out 335kW and colossal peak torque of 700Nm. The GLS 500 adds to a large menu of standard equipment in the 350d with additional fare, such as a panoramic sunroof, heated and ventilated front seats, as well as heated second-row seating and a digital TV tuner.
The AMG GLS 63 can also be optioned with an Off-Road Engineering package, which adds Off-Road+ mode to the vehicle’s Dynamic Select system. This utilises low range and a locking centre differential to give your luxury SUV some sure-footedness when the tarmac disappears. Thanks to the GLS’s Airmatic suspension system, the entire car can be raised, offering maximum ground clearance of 306mm and a recommended fording depth of up to 600mm … although if you’re fording rivers in your $238,000 luxury SUV, you quite possibly need your head read.
Dynamic Select, by the way, is available on every GLS and allows the driver to change the character and response of engine, transmission, steering and suspension through Comfort, Sport, Sport+ and Slippery modes, depending on the driving environment.
This system also provides added benefits off-road where the stabiliser bars on the front and rear axles are decoupled so the vehicle follows the contour of the land more freely. Yes, you really can venture off the highway with confidence in the GLS; practical running boards, chrome roof rails and protector panels under the body add to the idea of a luxury SUV that is meant to be used beyond the reaches of the Grammar Zone.
So overall, what do we have here?
We have a thoroughly comprehensive SUV. It’s a more practical S-Class; a bigger GLE; a G-Wagen you could actually live with. The GLS does pretty much everything right. For a price.
|ENGINE:||3-litre V6 turbo diesel (190kW/620Nm), 4.7-litre V8 petrol (335kW/700Nm), 5.5-litre V8 petrol (430kW/760Nm)|
|PRICE:||From $139,000 to $238,000|
|PROS:||Interior space and comfort, standard equipment|
|CONS:||Price of petrol models|