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We all know and respect the Mercedes-Benz S-Class – it is the pinnacle of luxury motoring from the Stuttgart brand and the benchmark that many mimic.

With SUVs projected to outsell sedans, Mercedes-Benz is aware and serious about the transition. In fact, they have eight SUVs on offer, with their new GLS the largest and most luxurious SUV to date from the brand, offering more space, more comfort and more luxury than ever before. So, is it as luxurious as the S-Class?

Being the largest SUV in the family benefiting from 60mm more wheelbase over its predecessor is interior spaciousness, especially in the second row. The three fully electrically adjustable seat rows offer all passengers a generous amount of space and seating comfort. The seats in the third row can be lowered into the floor to increase the boot space (up to 2400 litres), while the seats in the second-row fold flat. The seats in the third row are fully fledged seats that are suitable for people up to 1.94 m tall.

The central element in the dashboard's design is an impressively sized screen unit embedded in a distinctive dashboard support. The wide raised centre console creates a robust contrast with the free-floating appearance of the dashboard. The centre console also offers a wireless charging compartment for smartphones (standard in the GLS 580) and standard additional USB ports. Rear passengers are indulged further with the optional Rear Comfort Package Plus, which includes luxury head restraints with additional cushions and the rearward extended centre console between the front seats with cup holders.

The Rear Comfort Package Plus also includes removable 7-inch Android tablet in its own docking station in the second row's larger luxury centre armrest, coupled with wireless charging in the rear. The tablet allows touch control of all the MBUX (Mercedes-Benz User Experience) comfort and entertainment functions from the rear seat rows, such as access to radio, media, phone and web browser. It can also be used to control the Rear Seat Comfort package and the five-zone automatic climate control for the rear seats. The driver can assume control of all options and features from his or her seat at any time.

 

The GLS comes with the enhanced AIRMATIC air suspension system with Adaptive Damping System Plus fitted as standard. This setup adapts the damping characteristics to the road condition and driving situation in real time. In addition to this, the air suspension keeps the car at the same level, regardless of the load on board.

Not just a floating lounge, the GLS has real off-road functions including recovery mode when coupled with the optional Off Road Engineering package. If the GLS has become bogged down in a sand dune, for example, the suspension level is automatically raised and lowered several times, which changes the ground pressure of the tyres and therefore improves traction – the GLS rocks itself free.

Locally, we will be able to choose from the new Mercedes-Benz GLS 400d 4M and Mercedes-Benz GLS 580 4M, which marks the world première of a new electrified V8 petrol engine with 48-volt on-board electrical system and integrated starter-generator.

The GLS 580 4MATIC’s new electrified V8 petrol engine has a displacement of four litres and produces an output of 360kW and 700Nm of torque, with another 250Nm of torque and 16kW of additional output temporarily on tap via EQ Boost. Combined fuel consumption is around 10.1-9.8 l/100km. The GLS 400 d 4MATIC produces 243kW and 700Nm of torque, with combined fuel consumption of 7.9-7.6 litres/100km. Both supremely refined motors are paired to an equally polished 9-speed gearbox. 

The new GLS is equipped with the latest generation of Mercedes-Benz driving assistance systems. Active Distance Assist DISTRONIC, with route-based speed adaptation, allows the new GLS to recognise and respond to slow-moving traffic before the driver becomes aware of the hazard. When a traffic jam is detected on the highway (and if the driver does not choose a different response), DISTRONIC reduces the speed to around 100km/h as a precaution. Once the traffic clears, the GLS accelerates back up to the pre-set speed.

 

A novel feature is the Carwash function, which moves the suspension to the highest position, folds in the exterior mirrors, closes the side windows and the sliding sunroof and switches the climate control to air-recirculation mode. It deactivates automatically when the driver drives out of the carwash and accelerates to a speed above 20km/h.

Supremely comfortable, state-of-the-art technology, safe as gold and swift. The GLS does a great job of carrying the S-Class moniker into an SUV. The GLS sways towards the luxurious side of life much like the BMW X7 and Full Body Range Rover. In many respects, and with finer inspection, the GLS offers a better value proposition versus the competition. With that said, I feel this is an outstanding product from the brand. 

 

The competition

BMW X7, Land Rover Discovery/Range Rover Full Body, Lexus LX, Nissan Patrol and Toyota Land Cruiser 200.

The pricing

GLS 400d 4 Matic R1 842 000

GLS 580 4 Matic R2 025 000

 

The service and warranty

The GLS range is sold with a 5-year/100 000km service and maintenance plan.

 

Rating

9/10

www.mercedes-benz.co.za

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