The new generation Mercedes GLS 350 d 4MATIC, when compared with the GL before it, features improved efficiency, extended Dynamic Select transmission modes, the latest evolutionary stage of the air suspension system airmatic with enhanced damping system ADS, a nine-speed 9G-TRONIC automatic transmission, stateof-the-art assistance systems and the latest telematics generation with Internet access.
It is in Mercedes’s view “the S-Class of SUVs”. In my view this is a fair enough boast as it is one seriously luxurious SUV, complete with all the bells and whistles.
The ride quality is excellent, but it is the handling, considering the sheer bulk of the vehicle, that is even more striking. This performance can be attributed to a comprehensive stability offering.
Dynamic select provides the new GLS with up to six transmission modes. In addition to the settings Comfort, Slippery and Sport, the controller in the centre console can additionally choose Individual or the Off-Road mode for light terrain.
If the GLS model is equipped with the optional Off-Road Engineering package, the Off-Road+ mode is also available. With this, the low-range gearbox and centre differential lock also intervene if necessary.
This is further boosted by the expanded functions of the Airmatic air suspension with raised ride heights for a ground clearance of up to 306mm and thus a fording depth of up to 600mm. A short but tough offroad course at the launch would lead me to believe the GLS will go anywhere the driver would realistically want it to.
The damping system changes its priorities depending on the preselected mode. Sport has the greatest possible lateral dynamics with the best possible ride quality, while Comfort mode enables maximum ride quality with the best possible dynamics.
All engines of the new GLS provide better performance, with in part reduced fuel consumption. The powerful GLS 500 4MATIC with V8 biturbo engine featuring direct injection now generates 335kW, some 15 kW more than the preceding model, and with a peak torque of 700Nm combines outstanding performance with the high level of refinement of these engines.
All models feature an ECO start/stop function. Alongside the petrol engines, in the GLS 350 d 4MATIC there is the choice of the proven V6 diesel engine rated at 190kW and with ample torque of 620Nm.
At the launch of the new GLS generation, all versions feature the nine-speed 9G-TRONIC automatic transmission as standard (except the Mercedes-AMG GLS 63), optionally in combination with a lowrange gearbox and centre differential lock.
The new GLS reflects harmony and modern luxury to impressive effect. Chromelook details such as the roof rails, underbody protection, beltline trim strips, luggage compartment handle and side sill trim create attractive highlights.
Those after a sporty look can select the AMG Line Exterior, comprising specific front and rear bumpers, running boards, wheel arch flares painted in the vehicle colour and 53.3cm (21-inch) AMG light-alloy wheels.
Even more exclusivity is created with the Night Package, which is available in conjunction with this design and equipment line. Additional individualisation options come courtesy of various standard and metallic paint finishes, including two special editions in designo diamond white and – new for the GLS – designo hyacinth red.
On top of this there is a comprehensive range of new light-alloy wheels featuring a variety of designs. The GLS is large, very large. This means up to seven passengers can realistically be carried, but not with too much in the way of luggage.
A great feature is that the third row folds at the touch of a button to provide a decent boot and five seats. With its diverse adjustment options, the centre seat row enables a high degree of flexibility in the interior, including a cargo position for optimum use of the luggage compartment.
This provides a volume of 680 to 2 300 litres and as such clearly surpasses the amount of space offered by the vehicle’s competitors.
On top of this there is a maximum load compartment length of 2 124mm as well as a payload capacity of up to 795kg.
Of particular note are a new three-spoke multifunction steering wheel in nappa leather with steering wheel gearshift paddles and 12 function keys, as well as an airbag cover in nappa leather, instruments with modified details and also a newly designed instrument panel with semi-integrated colour Media Display.
Options available for the new GLS also include an ionisation system for even better interior air quality.
The equipment level of the new GLS in the area of active safety underscores MercedesBenz’s high standards when it comes to taking the strain off the driver. Driver assistance systems fitted as standard include Collision Prevention Assist Plus, Crosswind Assist and Attention Assist, for example.
Other systems available as standard on the GLS include the Pre-Safe system, BAS Brake Assist, the electronic all-wheel drive traction system 4ETS, ESP with Curve Dynamic Assist, cruise control and the steering assist function Steer Control.
The optional active roll stabilisation Active Curve System uses active anti-roll bars on the front and rear axle and reduces the roll angle of the body during cornering.
Better driving comfort both when cornering and on straights and extended off-road capabilities are also part of its advantages. The optional Driver Assistance package Plus further reduces the driver’s workload while enhancing safety for the passengers with systems including Distronic Plus with Stop&Go Pilot, Pre-Safe Brake with pedestrian detection, BAS Plus with Cross-Traffic Assist, Active Blind Spot Assist, Active Lane Keeping Assist and Pre-Safe Plus.
Optimal crash protection is provided by the passive occupant protection systems together with the “electronic crumple zones” of the assistance systems and the intelligent body design.
Adaptive, two-stage airbags for driver and front passenger, kneebag for the driver and front passenger and window bags across all three seat rows are also part of the standard specification, among other features.
Night-time vision is improved by standard LED Intelligent Light System, and with climate change looming perhaps even South African drivers will want the heated adaptive windscreen wiper system.
GLS 350 d 4MATIC: R1 283 900
GLS 500 4MATIC: R1 444 400
Mercedes-AMG GLS 63: 4MATIC R2 469 900