The S-Class of SUVs
Mercedes-Benz GLS review New Zealand
On the whole, when you buy a 7-Seater SUV you’re looking for space and when you buy a Mercedes-Benz, you’re certainly looking for luxury, but if you’re looking for excess in both, you buy the next-generation GLS.
Originally launched in 2007, the GLS is now in its third-generation. It’s easy to call it the ‘S-Class’ of SUVs but what the flagship GLS offers up is sublime luxury and cavernous cargo space.
For NZ, there is just one single-variant, but don’t be alarmed, the GLS 400d 4MATIC is fully loaded. As standard, it comes in the AMG-Line, which in terms of design adds a more integrated bumper, body-coloured wheel-arches and more exterior brightwork. Also as standard, the NZ GLS has 7-seats, Multi-Beam LED headlights, Carplay and Android Auto, wireless Charging, AMG 21” aerodynamically enhanced alloys (you can order 23” from the factory too) and a panoramic sunroof which is 50% bigger than ever before.
On the topic of bigger, overall, the GLS is +22mm wider and +77mm longer than the previous generation with much of this (+66mm) coming from its extended wheelbase. Larger on the outside means larger on the inside evidently, with electric seat adjustability in all three rows allowing for precise accommodation for all passengers.
Of course, the driver and front passenger gain more than their fair share of comfort with heated/ventilated and ‘hot stone’ massage, however, second and third rows have it better than ever before with room for passengers up to 200 cm tall and 194 cm tall (87mm more legroom) respectively. Also, the additional wheelbase length makes it easier than ever for passengers to access the third row.
When it comes to luggage space, the GLS has oodles of it. 355L with all seats up, 890L in a 5 seat configuration and 2,400L with all seats down. Of particular note here, is that all seats will lay flat (and raise) at the touch the button in the rear luggage area. And in case you were wondering, the GLS offers three leather interior choices, black, espresso brown or macchiato beige.
Under the GLS 400d 4MATIC’s power bulge in the bonnet, lies a powerful new 3.0-litre, inline six-cylinder turbodiesel engine married to a 9G-TRONIC nine-speed automatic transmission. Output is 243kW (+ 53kW over the 350 d) and 700Nm (+80Nm), while fuel efficiency (thanks to its 0.32cd drag-coefficient which sets a new benchmark for the segment) is reported to be 7.7L/100km.
On the road, the big SUV seems smaller than its dimensions suggest. It’s a very comfortable ride, or glide for that matter, with Airmatic suspension as standard. However, should you want an upgrade, there is also an E-Active body control option (based on a 48V platform) that will give you road surface scan, a curve drive program and a recovery mode.
Steering is surprisingly lighter than you’d expect and the NVH is impeccable, not a hint of sound from the big 3L. In truth, the ride is smooth and effortless.
The dual 12.3” touch screen MBUX system is intuitive and easy to get along with and has a couple of extra features included. The ‘Interior assistant’ anticipates your hand gestures and will do things like turn on the map reading light or short cut to the menu, Plus, the navigation comes with augmented reality that will superimpose virtual directions on to live video and present it on the centre screen. It’s all very smart.
With 3.5 tonne towing, more than ample room for a large family and state of the art technology, driver and safety aids, this third-generation GLS takes SUVs to the excess.