By Khulekani Dumisa
Recently we spent time with the all-new Mercedes-Benz GLS. The 7-seater luxury SUV now features a prominent radiator grille with vertical slats and distinctive headlights. Also featuring prominently are the bumpers with chrome accents and a skid plate.
The side-profile is clean and only features a sharp crease above the door handles. Slim taillights, a chrome strip and skid plate dominate the rear end.
The GLS makes quite the statement when you encounter in the metal. It is a large and imposing car. Whilst the rear and side profile, are unique to it, the front does appear too generic. This is the fate suffered by the Q7 as well. Whilst the X7 is polarising due to the large grille, at least it does manage to set itself apart from the X5.
A curved screen housing the odometer and infotainment (with MBUX) dominates the spacious interior with quality finishes. The new GLS is 60 mm longer than its predecessor which improves rear legroom for second row passengers. The third row seats can be stowed away electronically increasing the luggage capacity from 355-litres to 890-litres. With third and second row seats folded, the GLS offers 2,400-litres luggage capacity.
The interior gets top marks for quality and so does the infotainment. However, there are just two issues, the dashboard is too similar in looks to the GLE. The S-Class of SUVs should surely have its own visually identity. Another issue is, accessing the third row is easy enough with the large back doors. Being electronically operated, they take long to operate. This is not practical. Weather may not give you the luxury of time to wait for the system to slowly lift the second row of seats. Crime may also be a factor in South Africa.
The GLS 400d is powered by a 3.0-litre straight-6 turbocharged diesel engine with 243 kW and 700 Nm. Power is sent to all 4 wheels via the 9G-tronic automatic transmission. The large and luxurious Mercedes-Benz SUV moves from 0-100 km/h in just 6.3 seconds. These are impressive figures but the best part is perhaps that the GLS is not fuel thirsty at all. We never saw figures above 10-litres/100km.
Our time with the GLS
We enjoyed spending time with the Mercedes-Benz GLS. The large SUV ticks a lot of boxes, including luxury, space, comfort and safety. The latter is taken care of through a slew of technological features such as blind spot monitor, adaptive cruise control and steering assist. The two screen display with MBUX for the infotainment, quality finishes and LED ambient lighting make the luxurious cabin a great place to be in.
On the space front, adults can sit in the third row and with that row up, and the GLS will still have boot space that is nearly the same size as the A-Class. Tick the off-road pack and your GLS can venture off the beaten with minimal fuss.
Finally, thanks to the air suspension, the cushioned ride quality will be truly appreciated by your family. The GLS appears to glide across uneven and imperfect road surfaces with relative ease. Piloting the large car does not feel cumbersome at all. You can easily spend miles and miles behind the wheel, and get to your destination feeling refreshed and like you can take on more miles.
If you need a large and luxurious SUV that can accommodate 7 passengers and still have a bit of a boot, look no further than the GLS.
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