It was the GL, but it’s now the GLS – and it gets fresh styling and more interior appointments, too.
Yes, Mercedes-Benz’s large seven-seater SUV has undergone something of a personality transplant, and the corresponding price rise moves it up from the same class as the Audi Q7 to that of the Range Rover Sport. It’s still no full-on off-roader in the pure Rangie vein, but you’ll get somewhere close with the various all-terrain modes. The full-fat Off-road Package will set you back a further £2000-odd.
With a new, higher-class AMG Line entry spec, Merc has strived to bestow the GLS with an S-Class feel. Refinement in the spacious and high-spec cabin is certainly impressive. The wood, leather and plastics used are top-notch, as is the new 8.0-inch infotainment set-up which also boasts a 360-degree camera.
Visibility out from the high-set driving position is good, too. Luggage space is 680 litres with the third row of seats folded flat via an electronic switch; it grows quite cavernous with the second row flipped forward as well. And even when each seat is occupied by an adult, there’s still a surprising amount of space.
They are treated to a very comfortable ride. Few road or wind noises or surface imperfections are transmitted through to the cabin, and the adaptive air-suspension keeps everything in check.
The chassis system has five modes, ranging from Comfort to Slippery, Sport, Off-road and Individual. And you’d expect, the first of these is optimum for comfortable progress. Surprisingly agile handling belies the four-wheel-drive GLS’s bulk as well.
The 3.0-litre V6 diesel – the UK’s anticipated big seller – now produces 255bhp and 457lb ft of torque. Charged with pulling a 2.5-tonne vehicle, it puts its muscle down via a new, smooth-shifting nine-speed automatic transmission that’s tuned to work with rather than against the torque. As a result, progress is strong and steady rather than frenetic.
As mentioned, the AMG Line’s £69,100 list price is higher than before, but better efficiency figures of 37.2mpg and 199g/km of CO2 emissions – down from 209g/km – will slightly improve running costs. The GLS is still a lot of money though. Audi’s new Q7 SE outclasses it in virtually every area and it’s nearly £20k cheaper. Might be worth a look instead…
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