The Mercedes GLS is the S-Class of SUVs if we are to believe what the German manufacturer has to say. To begin with, it is the largest in its class – the class of luxury people movers. People mover because it has seven seats and luxury because it is a big fat SUV with almost all the creature comforts a car can have. The Audi Q7, the Volvo XC90 and the BMW X5 belong to the segment the GLS competes in.
The Mercedes GLS is a revised Mercedes GL. Apart from the S added to the badge to fall in the line of Mercedes’ new system of nomenclature, the GLS gets quite a few changes. Starting with the looks, the GLS gets the S-Class-esque twin full LED headlamps with adaptive high beam to reduce the glare for oncoming traffic. The front grille is slightly bigger than the GL and gets twin thick vented silver-finish horizontal slats with the three-pointed-star at the centre.
The front bash-plate is now finished in chrome and is more pronounced as compared to the GL. The new multi-spoke chrome-finish 20-inch alloys are the only thing different in the side profile. The tail lamp internals have been reworked and a chrome strip has been added to the rear bumper to complement the integrated chrome tip dual exhausts.
While the GLS continues to get the same 2987cc turbocharged V6 diesel engine from the GL the efficiency in terms of fuel economy and torque delivery is said to have improved by 15 per cent and 22 per cent respectively. The 3.0-litre direct injection engine develops 258bhp of power and 620Nm of torque and is mated to the 9G-tronic nine-speed automatic gearbox.
The GLS gets five driving modes – Comfort, Sport, Individual, Slippery and Off-road. The engine, gearbox and suspension characteristics change depending upon the modes selected as per the electronic presets. The pneumatic suspension system on the GLS – AIRMATIC, allows you to raise the ride height for off-roading at the press of a button. On highways, at higher speeds, the ride-height gets reduced automatically for better directional stability. The ESP system gets Crosswind assist to maintain the stability of the SUV.
The ECO button on the dash activates the engine start-stop function. The GLS now gets push-button start and a new 20.3cm (diagonally) display screen for the infotainment system. The COMAND system can now be operated with the new touchpad unit like first seen in the C-Class and the driving modes are selected using a rotary fob. Three-zone climate control, panoramic sunroof, auto-dimming rear view mirrors are standard. The wing mirrors now project the Mercedes logo on the ground when you open the door, doubling up as puddle lamps.
When compared to the competition, as I said before, it is the largest in terms of dimensions. The last row space, hence, is the best in class. The seats are comfortable and there is enough space in the front rows as well. The second row of seats can be reclined like the last row which gets electrical folding function. The Volvo loses out on performance while the Audi Q7 is just not as big. The BMW X5 is good to drive but misses out on the ride height adjustment and is also essentially a five-seater car with two seats added in the back. At Rs 80.4 lakh (ex-showroom, Mumbai) the Mercedes GLS is being priced close to its competition and hence makes it one of the better options in the segment if not the best.