The fourth of my Mercedes test cars was the S class of the SUV’S, namely the GLS 400d, which is a behemoth of an SUV in the visual aspect. It is long, and wide, with a wide bonnet, that makes steering difficult if you aren’t feeling your car.
Mercedes-Benz’s largest and most luxurious SUV to date has landed in South Africa, offering more space, more comfort and more luxury than ever before. The new Mercedes-Benz GLS is even larger than its predecessor, with a 60 mm longer wheelbase that provides increased interior spaciousness, and combines striking looks with outstanding comfort, agile handling and a high degree of off-road capability.
It embodies luxury, confidence and intelligence like no other vehicle. In addition, it is the market leader in its segment – just like the S-Class Sedan.
The GLS combines modern luxury with the character of an off-roader, and it combines powerful highlights of off-road design & capability with an elegance reminiscent of a classic luxury sedan.
The front section of the new GLS exudes presence and power, with a striking appearance emphasised with an upright radiator grille and distinctive headlamp design. The GLS cuts an imposing figure from the rear, too, with a powerful shoulder muscle extending from the rear doors to the tail lights, which enables the GLS to strike an imperious pose on the road.
It has a low drag coefficient for such a large vehicle, which lends itself to better fuel consumption.
Interior design: luxuriously elegant and powerfully progressive
With the GLS being made 60 mm longer in wheelbase, the second row seats benefit from more space. The three fully electrically adjustable seat rows offer all passengers a generous amount of space and seating comfort. The seats in the third row can be lowered into the floor to increase the boot space (up to 2400 litres), while the seats in the second row fold flat. The seats in the third row are fully fledged seats that are suitable for people up to 1.94 m tall. The 400d is very quiet, and has no tractor type diesel noises emitting from the engine at all.
Loved the dashboard’s design which is an impressively sized screen unit embedded in a distinctive dashboard support. The wide raised centre console creates a robust contrast with the free-floating appearance of the dashboard. The centre console also offers a wireless-charging compartment for smartphones (Standard in the GLS 580) and standard additional USB ports. Rear passengers are indulged further with the optional Rear Comfort Package plus which includes luxury head restraints with additional cushions and the rearward-extended centre console between the front seats with cup holders.
The Rear Comfort package Plus also includes removable 7-inch Android tablet in its own docking station in the second row’s larger luxury centre armrest, coupled with wireless charging in the rear. The tablet allows touch control of all the MBUX (Mercedes-Benz User Experience) comfort and entertainment functions from the rear seat rows, such as access to radio, media, phone and web browser. It can also be used to control the Rear Seat Comfort package and the five-zone automatic climate control for the rear seats. The driver can assume control of all options and features from his or her seat at any time.
The GLS is made for road trips, and I wish I was doing my Easter trip to the Berg in this baby.
Engine & Transmission.
After the ultra performance models I tested recently, the GLS 400d is sedate in comparison. But it really is no slouch. The GLS 400 d 4MATIC produces 243 kW and 700 Nm of torque, with combined fuel consumption of 7.9-7.6 l/100 km. This from the 3.0 L twin-turbo DIESEL engine.
It is coupled with a 9G-TRONIC automatic transmission. The broad ratio spread of gears one to nine allows a clearly perceptible reduction in engine speed and is a decisive factor behind the high level of energy efficiency and ride comfort.
A new standard feature is the Carwash function, which moves the suspension to the highest position, folds in the exterior mirrors, closes the side windows and the sliding sunroof and switches the climate control to air-recirculation mode. It deactivates automatically when the driver drives out of the carwash and accelerates to a speed above 20 km/h.
Driving assistance systems: even better support
The new GLS is equipped with the latest generation of Mercedes-Benz driving assistance systems. Active Distance Assist DISTRONIC with route-based speed adaptation allows the new GLS to recognise and respond to tailbacks or slow-moving traffic before the driver becomes aware of the hazard. When a traffic jam is detected on the highway (and if the driver does not choose a different response), DISTRONIC reduces the speed to around 100 km/h as a precaution. Once the tailback clears, the GLS accelerates back up to the preset speed.
Trailer Manoeuvring Assist is available as an option for drivers not familiar with towing trailers, or more experienced drivers towing longer trailers.
The off-road functions include recovery mode when coupled with the optional Off Road Engineering package: if the GLS has become bogged down in a sand dune, for example, the suspension level is automatically raised and lowered several times, which changes the ground pressure of the tyres and therefore improves traction – the GLS rocks itself free. The new GLS Models:
|GLS 400 d 4MATIC||GLS 580 4MATIC|
|Number of cylinders/arrangement||6/in-line||V8|
|Rated output (kW)||243||360|
|Extra output from EQ Boost (kW) on take-off||–||16|
|Rated torque (Nm)||700||700|
|Add. torque from ECO Boost (Nm) on take-off||–||250|
|Fuel consumption combined (l/100 km)||7.9 – 7.6||10.0 – 9.8|
|Combined CO2 emissions(g/km)||208 – 201||229 – 224|
|Acceleration 0-100 km/h (s)||6.3||4.7|
|Top speed (km/h)||238||250|
|Starting Retail Price||R1 842 000||R2 025 000|
Big price, but this is the top-line SUV from Mercedes Benz, so you should expect to pay the premium. I would take this before a Porsche Cayenne, It’s that good.