Why the Mercedes-Benz GLS might be the most advanced car on the market
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Mercedes-Benz GLS 400d
Incredible package of technology
Looks quite compact (it isn't)
Pushing the boundaries of what’s a practical size
Mercedes-Benz is fond of calling its GLS the “S-class of SUVs”. But even in a luxury-vehicle market obsessed with high-riding vehicles, that’s more marketing alliteration than customer reality. S-class buyers aren’t generally cross-shopping the marque’s flagship sedan with this supersized seven-seat SUV.
Even the company acknowledges that. “It’s a different customer,” says M-B product communications specialist Ryan Lewis.
“Or sometimes people just want the biggest model, with that level of luxury and comfort.”
So the good news is that the prestige car market hasn’t completely fallen to high-sided vehicles. The image and dignity of a traditional three-box sedan still counts for something.
That said, any hope of luxury sedans maintaining their superiority in terms of on-road presence and technology is long gone.
If real estate is your thing, you cannot argue with the GLS: it’s 5.2 metres long and the massive cabin is indeed capable of carrying seven adults.
Even with every chair in use, it has as much bootspace as an A-class hatchback. In five-seat configuration, it looks like you could actually park an A-class in the back (not quite, but it’s still nearly 900 litres).
It has the full MBUX interior interface including the “Hey Mercedes” intelligent voice assistant, an augmented reality sat-nav system that overlays directions onto a camera image from the front of the car, outstanding driver-assistance features including automated lane-changing… you can even have a trick 48-volt-powered suspension system that uses the forward-facing camera to read the road ahead and adjust the response of each wheel individually.
Oh, and the GLS can also lean into corners. You know, like a motorcycle.
Our test vehicle had the former, which was brilliant, but not the latter.
Even without the clever chassis, the GLS is a feel-good machine on the road. The 3.0-litre turbo-diesel is part of M-B’s new modular family of engines and it’s a sweet torquing thing. The GLS is not as sprightly as the lighter GLE 400d (of course), but 0-100km/h in 6.3 seconds is still pretty swift for a luxury apartment. And it feels effortless.
In terms of ultimate prestige the GLS still must bow to the S-class. But in terms of sheer presence and high technology, it bows to no car… or SUV for that matter.
MERCEDES-BENZ GLS 400d
ENGINE: 3.0L turbo-diesel V6
GEARBOX: Nine-speed automatic, AWD
PRICE: $166,700 (as tested $176,950).
PROS: Incredible package of technology, effortless powertrain.
CONS: Pushing the boundaries of what’s a practical size.