The mighty GLS is a 2.5-tonne powerhouse of an SUV with go-anywhere 4MOTION all-wheel-drive. It oozes class and is packed with first class techno treats. With room for seven, this high-end vehicle boasts a commanding presence on the road. An AMG version really ups the ante for thrill seekers.
The goodPowerful seven seater with excellent handling capabilities
The badA wide vehicle that takes up most of the road on narrow country lanes
Mercedes GLS 350 d 4MATIC AMG Line
Mercedes has introduced a fresh naming strategy for its SUV line-up during the last three years with all models apart from the G-Class gaining a ‘GL’ prefix, along with a third letter that reflects which model it sits alongside. So, in the case of the GLS that we tested, it’s an SUV design with S-Class characteristics.
More like an S-Class on steroids to be honest because the GLS is absolutely massive dwarfing most of its rivals. Weighing just under 2.5 tonnes, it stretches more than 5.1 metres in length, it is almost 2.0 metres wide and you have to literally climb into the cabin of this SUV which is 1.85 metres in height.
Approached from any angle, the GLS looks muscular and commanding – our AMG Line model featured lots of AMG-specific body styling along with a panoramic sunroof, privacy glass and LED lights. The car is very much based on the outgoing GL model but gains a new front end that mirrors the rest of the latest Mercedes range plus a modernised rear bumper, tail lights and redesigned exhaust pipes. Our GLS was sitting on 21-inch AMG five twin-spoke alloys.
Move inside and the luxurious interior is dripping with high-end features. There is a newly designed instrument panel with semi integrated media display, a new three-spoke multi-function steering wheel, a modified centre console with touchpad, plus the introduction of some elegant trim and ambient lighting.
Techno treats are plentiful with the likes of two eight-inch display screens, a DVD player, two sets of rear headphones (so second row passengers can watch a movie), full smartphone integration via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, a pitch perfect Harman Kardon sound system, full navigation, a DAB digital radio and plenty more besides.
Our test car was priced at £72,090 (£84,690 with options) and was powered by a 3.0-litre V6 258PS diesel engine mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission. It could sprint from 0 to 62mph in a very swift 7.8 seconds, maxed out at 138mph, and according to official figures, can deliver combined fuel economy of 35.3mpg with carbon emissions of 210g/km.
The driver can select from different driving modes called Individual, Sport, Comfort and Snow that alter the way the car handles and the GLS also features Mercedes’ 4MATIC all-wheel drive system along with Airmatic air suspension that raises and lowers the ride height according to the terrain.
Despite its substantial dimensions and the large wheels, the GLS feels well balanced and composed with all but the most severe potholes causing any real issues. Hit one of those though and it will send reverberationsthrough the cabin! The steering is well weighted and although the driving dynamics are not exactly blisteringly fast, the GLS moves smoothly through the auto gearbox with a constant stream of power on tap.
Thanks to the elevated seating position, the driver benefits from superb all-round visibility and all dials, controls and readouts are ideally positioned for ease of use. The seats are supportive and comfortable with power adjustment and memory settings. They can also be heated to fend off the winter chill.
On twisting country lanes, the GLS gripped the road confidently with minimal body sway unless driven rather too enthusiastically. Then in the town centres, it proved to be deceptively agile for its size. That said; you will need a parking bay the size of a small bus!
Cruising at motorway speeds is where the GLS really comes into its own. It eats up the miles with ease and barely a sound from the road surface or engine filters into the well-insulated cabin.
Passenger comfort levels are exceptionally high and the seats in rows two and three can be quickly folded flat or raised via a couple of buttons. Even passengers relegated to the rear of the car are treated to a decent amount of space and getting in or out is a simple process as the second-row seats fold and tumble forward.
The boot is generously sized too with a capacity ranging from 680 to 2,300 litres depending on seating configuration and there’s a number of convenient storage compartments scattered throughout the car
As one would expect from a premium marque such as Mercedes, the GLS is packed with state-of-the-art safety kit with the likes of collision prevention assist, attention assist, crosswind assist and a parking pilot with 360-degree camera.
A Driver Assistance package, costing £1,695 extra, was added to our car and that introduced active blind spot assist, active brake assist with cross-traffic function, active lane keep assist, a distance and steering pilot, along with pre-safe plus system.
All in all, the GLS is a larger-than-life, drop-dead-gorgeous 4×4 SUV that is packed to bursting with classy features. It offers excellent levels of practicality, looks awesome and is great fun to drive too. Now get out of my way!