Mercedes-Benz GLS replaces GL-Class
Mercedes-Benz has completed its SUV renaming project with the release of the GLS, the long-awaited replacement of the GL-Class. But it is not just a seven-seater GL anymore.
Over the last few years, Mercedes-Benz has started to move its SUV naming convention to something that frankly makes more sense. The GL badge denotes that a vehicle is meant to be more rugged than its base model, while the letter following the GL designation indicates which model it is based on.
So the GLA is a SUV based on the A-Class, while the GLE is a SUV with E-Class origins, or an SUV that is in the same size bracket as the E-Class.
Mercedes-Benz has decided to rather use the GLS as a luxury platform from which it can conduct assaults on the likes of Range Rover and the soon to be released Bentley Bentayga. This means that the GLS will not just be a long-wheel base GL (or GLE under the new naming scheme) but will earn its S designation.
The GLS has undergone signficant styling changes to distance itself from the previous generation, which often looked like a Mercedes-Benz SUV that had some extra bodywork welded into the middle. The new shape is still colossal, but the downward angle of the roof line does take the edge off.
The new nose is in line with what you would expect from a modern Mercedes-Benz and sports an oversized Three-Pointed Star and large air intakes. The front end of the GLE Coupé which we recently drove already looked like a small house with a licence plate, so we can only imagine how enormous the GLS will look from the front.
The rear is less dramatic than its GLE counterpart but still features the S-Class inspired rear light cluster.
The interior has been given a make-over and is now in line with the rest of the Mercedes-Benz range. I wouldn’t say that it looks quite as good as the S-Class as it still has a large slab of buttons (including a dial pad which I am sure has been standard on the Mercedes-Benz interior circa 2001) but it does receive a large standalone screen and UI software.
Powering the car will be a choice of petrol and diesel engines, all turbocharged. The GLS500 4Matic receives a twin-turbocharged 4,7-litre V8 producing 335 kW, while the GL350d 4Matic sticks with a 3,0-litre V6 turbodiesel. The diesel unit will be good for 140 kW.
Topping off the range is a twin-turbocharged 5,5-litre V8 wearing the Mercedes-AMG GLS63 4matic badge. The V8’s power increases to 430 kW compared to the GL63 AMG, and is linked to a seven-speed Speedshift automatic gearbox.
In conjunction with the standard Airmatic air-suspension, the GLS receives a new driver select program with a choice of six possible driving programs. These include Comfort, Slippery, Sport, Individual and Off-Road. Models can also be specced with an off-road package which then adds a seventh Off-Road Plus mode.
Off-Road Plus activates the car’s low-range gearing and centre differential, and raises the vehicle via the air suspension for a total ground clearance of 306 mm and a wading depth of 600 mm.
Prices are expected to remain in line with the current GL, and the newcomer should find its way into local dealerships towards the middle of next year.