Mercedes-Benz has replaced the oldest model in its range – the GLS – with an all-new version.
Revealed at the New York motor show, the updated GLS aims to take on rivals such as the Range Rover and new BMW X7 by majoring on luxury, refinement and prestige.
It’s certainly imposing enough to compete. Mercedes says the GLS has a “confident presence” and “impressive dimensions” – that may just be slang for “enormous”. At 5.2 metres in length and nearly two metres in width, it’s bigger than a Range Rover, BMW X7 or even a Bentley Bentayga.
With 6cm added to the wheelbase, the new GLS offers a great improvement in passenger space, claims Mercedes. While seven seats will be standard, Mercedes can fit a pair of captain’s chairs in place of the middle bench as an option, making for an ultra-luxurious six-seater.
There are few surprises with the styling of this new flagship – it takes the cues seen on the GLC and GLE SUVs and stretches them to fit a larger body. Although the bold grille is undeniably the dominant item on the car’s nose, Mercedes has resisted the temptation to “do a BMW” and stretch it into an enormous, caricatured feature.
There’s little to be surprised about inside, either. The GLS’s dashboard uses the same design as all current Mercedes models, concealing a pair of vast infotainment screens behind a seamless glass cover. A touchpad interface controls the MBUX operating system, while passengers can interact with the in-built voice assistant simply by saying “Hey Mercedes”.
Internationally, Mercedes will offer three six-cylinder engines and one V8 – two each of petrol and diesel. However, European buyers are only expected to get six-cylinder diesel options. The 350 d is a 3.0-litre straight-six with 290hp and 600Nm of torque, reportedly capable of up to 37mpg. The 400 d offers 330hp from the same engine and promises the same fuel economy.
Both will be paired with a nine-speed automatic gearbox and 4Matic four-wheel drive. Although the GLS is unlikely to be as proficient a mud-plugger as a Range Rover, an optional off-road package will provide some underbody protection and a low-range transfer case.
AMG performance models will arrive next year, while a plug-in hybrid can be expected to follow as well.
The new GLS will be built in Mercedes’ plant in Alabama. It’s expected to arrive at UK dealerships in the summer, priced from around £75,000.