The GL-Class was Mercedes-largest Benz’s vehicle when it arrived in India in 2012, and it quickly became the largest SUV on the market. There is a facelift now, which we would normally refer to as the GL facelift, but Mercedes-Benz changed its naming practise last year and assigned each car in the lineup to a core model such as the A-Class, C-Class, or E-Class. Because this is the company’s largest and most expensive car, it has been renamed the GLS, making it the S-SUV. Class’s
As with most mid-life updates, this one has resulted in some minor style modifications as well as some tweaks to the feature list. The nine-speed gearbox, which has replaced the seven-speed unit, is fully new.
The face of this new GLS is the first thing that draws your eye. There are new LED headlamps with a layout that includes LED DRLs that resemble eyebrows. The two-slat grille has been changed as well, and now has a large three-pointed star. Finally, a curved chrome bumper adds a hint of luxury (ness) to the car.
It’s still massive from the side, thanks to the vast overhangs. At the back, a new LED strip has been added to the tail lamps, and the dual exhaust tips have been trimmed in chrome. The GLS retains its dominant road presence because to its vast size, and these visual tweaks, while minor, have done enough to give it a new lease on life.
Have you ever entered a large building and been taken aback by the sheer scale of everything around you? When I initially hopped into the GLS, this was very exactly my reaction. It has a 3.07 metre wheelbase and is the first seven-seater I’ve been in that can truly seat seven adults in comfort that only diminishes somewhat as you approach row three.
It keeps all of the GL’s spacious characteristics, but with some new additions. A dynamic three-spoke steering wheel and a freestanding eight-inch touchscreen for the COMAND Online system are among the highlights. The graphics on this new MMI have been updated, and it now has the ability to connect to the internet via a 3G/4G device. Apple Car Play is also featured in the MMI. The screen also serves as a display for the 360-degree camera, which is useful when manoeuvring or parking the car in a confined spot.
There are a profusion of storage compartments, heated/cooled cup holders, and electric folding for the third row to boost boot room on the practicality front. To get to the third row, you must manually fold down the second row and then clamber in.
The view from the GLS is always impressive, given to the vast glass surface and high ground clearance. You tower over everything else around you, and it’s not difficult to judge and situate the GLS once you’ve gotten your head around its huge scale.
While Mercedes-Benz has done enough to give the GLS a mid-life facelift, the inside does not feel particularly remarkable. This is because competitors such as the Volvo XC90 and the Audi Q7 have advanced greatly in terms of design and layout quality.
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A 3.0-litre V6 diesel engine is available for the GLS. It now has a new 9G-Tronic automatic gearbox in place of the seven-speed unit that came with the earlier car, producing 258bhp and 620Nm of torque. For the Indian market, 4MATIC is standard.
Shorter ratios of the 9G-Tronic have been developed to boost fuel efficiency by allowing you to travel at a higher speed in a lower rpm range. The variations between the first five gears are small, but they begin to widen after fifth gear. This essentially means that you can cruise in triple digits below 2000rpm.
Despite its 2.45 tonne weight, the GLS was able to sprint from 0 to 100 kilometres per hour in 8.29 seconds, compared to 10.15 seconds for the earlier GL. In third gear, the time from 20 to 80 kmph was 4.83 seconds, compared to 5.83 seconds for the GL-Class. In fourth gear, the 40-100kmph sprint took 6.38 seconds, which is somewhat faster than the older car’s 7.88 seconds. The Audi Q7, its main competitor, is much faster in all three categories.
The GLS comes standard with Mercedes-AIRMATIC Benz’s suspension, which, when combined with the 275/50 R20 tyres, does a good job of absorbing bumps and imperfections on the road at moderate speeds. The steering is mild, making manoeuvring this behemoth a breeze.
The car tends to move around a lot as you travel faster, so there’s a sport option that stiffens the suspension and steering response for sustained higher speeds. This is, however, only a minor improvement over the comfort mode.
The GLS is not a car that can readily alter directions due to its size and weight, and it is best enjoyed when driven slowly. There’s also a snow mode and an individual mode, the latter of which provides some pre-sets that you may tinker with to generate responses tailored to your specific preferences.
The Mercedes-Benz GLS is a huge, comfortable SUV that is one of the few that can claim to be a true seven-seater today. It has a considerable advantage because it is the largest car in the lineup and has unparalleled road presence and image. However, in terms of design and technology, the competition has caught up with the Audi Q7 and the Volvo XC90, which are now a generation ahead.
It costs Rs 82.36 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi) and competes with the Audi Q7 Technology Pack (Rs 79.85 lakh) and the Volvo XC90 Inscription Luxury (Rs 82.36 lakh) (Rs 80.24 lakh).