The GLS 400d a worth cross-continent cruiser
Some say that it was indeed Mercedes-Benz that invented the luxury German SUV segment when in 1998 it introduced the then ML in the market. Since then the segment has grown exponentially with manufacturers introducing everything from compact crossovers to high-end luxury offerings. This article focuses on the latter, and more specifically the Mercedes-Benz GLS in 400d guise
The Mercedes-Benz GLS is the brands biggest and most luxurious SUV on offer. It has been dubbed the S-Class of SUVs which is a bold statement as it goes head-to-head with the likes of the BMW X7 and even the Bentley Bentayga. Mercedes-Benz offers the GLS with a choice of two engines. One is in the form of a bi-turbocharged petrol V8 and the other, a diesel, the one that we will be focusing on.
Mercedes-Benz renamed their entire range of SUV offerings to incorporate the GL name which is a nod to the legendary Gelandewagen, a reassurance to their vehicle's off-road ability. The third letter refers to the vehicle which it is based upon. The GLA is based on the A Class for example and competes as an entry level offering. The GLS as mentioned refers to the S-Class and it offers a heightened sense of luxury.
However, in order to demand such a statement it needs to demand road presence and it does. Thanks to the AMG-line body style the GLS exudes presence and power. It features sporty front bumpers as well as the upright radiator grille in an octagonal SUV interpretation, the prominent, chrome-plated underguard in the front apron with the bone-shaped air inlet grille, and the bonnet with two powerdomes.
The GLS cuts an imposing figure from the rear, too. This is particularly ensured by the powerful shoulder muscle extending from the rear doors to the tail lights, which enables the GLS to strike an imperious pose on the road. The two-piece tail lamps are based on LED technology, and their high-calibre, three-dimensional look conveys depth and solidity. The reflectors are relocated lower down, giving the tail lamps a flatter appearance. They are crowned by a slender, continuous chrome trim strip. The rear is strikingly rounded off with the chrome-plated underguard.
The interior remains a luxurious place to be. It achieves this by not only being visually appealing but also elegant aesthetics, as evidenced straight away by the leather appointments, which come as standard. They combine the comfort of a Mercedes-Benz luxury saloon with the robustly progressive detailing of an SUV.
A highlight is how Mercedes has managed to blend the latest technological features and luxury elements together. The large touchscreen of the MBUX infotainment system allows all the GLS comfort features to be controlled from the driver's seat. Very fine chiselling and the pyramid structures of the trim surfaces show the desire for perfection and craftsmanship. The new multifunction sports steering wheel with its striking spoke design accentuates the impressive appearance of the SUV's interior.
The new GLS has a considerably longer wheelbase than its predecessor (3135 mm, an increase of 60 mm). This creates more space, especially in the second seat row, which can furthermore be adjusted fore and aft. Legroom here is increased by 87 mm when the seats are in their rearmost position, which also makes it easier to get into the vehicle. A push of a button is all that is required to stow away the comfortable seats and make full use of the 2400-litre boot space in the GLS.
When it comes to the power the GLS is not short of any of it. Its new 2.9-litre diesel engine develops 243kW and 700Nm of torque. Power is sent to all four wheels via the brand's smooth-shifting 9G-TRONIC automatic transmission. The GLS 400d is a very competent cross-continent vehicle in that it offers up an exceptional ride quality with effortless power and, in some regards decent fuel consumption with an average of 8.5l/100km being achieved.