From the front, the Mercedes-Benz GLS resembles a bear in a gentle slumber – calm and able to exert its authority without moving a muscle. This is a robust SUV that will carry its driver securely over any terrain. It is the master of all it surveys, from hectic commuter traffic in the big city to steep gravel tracks climbing to a mountain refuge – or, should the occasion arise – the wilderness of the Arctic ice. Its commanding appearance is accentuated by the power domes on its hood and the pair of prominent louvres which stand guard in front of the radiator and frame the three-pointed star like muscle strata. The GLS is the even more definitive version of its predecessor, the GL, with ride comfort and safety elevated to new levels. In this top category of SUVs, the bar has clearly been raised, a fact that becomes clearer once you get behind the wheel.
Power in tranquility
The door of the citrine brown GLS 550 4MATIC closes with a satisfying thud you just can’t get enough of. Seldom does shutting out the world sound quite so pleasantly soft and wonderfully cushioned. Then comes the wave of tranquility: The driver feels relaxed and caressed in a luxury seat whose padding is not too soft (which could have an energy-draining effect) and not too firm (which might be less than comfortable for the back and rear). Instead, all is snug and unobtrusively supportive.
The welcome sense of peace is also reflected in the high-quality interior – available in crystal grey, ginger beige, espresso brown or black, according to personal preference. Our model features exclusive designo trim, which includes nappa leather seats in porcelain with diamond-shaped topstitching, a roof lining in black and door sill plates in polished stainless steel. The three-spoke multifunction steering wheel is very appealing to the touch, being both grippy and soft, and is covered in nappa leather. The clear media display is positioned centrally in the instrument panel, while the touchpad enables rapid operation. Everything in the interior meshes together beautifully, nothing looks out of place. Those on board – the GLS can transport up to seven people or a train of huskies – are surrounded by an obliging sense of luxury, enveloping them like a velvety cocoon.
The new GLS is spacious enough for seven people and their luggage. Its off-road prowess also puts expeditions over rough terrain on the agenda.
Below the surfaces rumbles a powerful engine, whose performance figures – like those of all GLS models – are superior to those of the GL. For example, the eight-cylinder unit driving the 550 now develops 449 hp, some 20 hp more than the preceding model, yet fuel consumption has been reduced. The groundbreaking 9G-TRONIC automatic transmission shifts through the gears almost imperceptibly and does its bit for economy, but still manages to offer sporting responses. The flowing character of the gear changes produces a graceful glide, the likes of which you would not believe possible from such a large machine.
The eight-cylinder engine powering the 550 develops 449 hp. In citrine brown and with the AMG exterior styling, it cuts an extremely dynamic figure.
Through storms and snow
The AIRMATIC air suspension system teams up with ADS Plus (which constantly adjusts the damping of each individual wheel according to the surface at hand) to generate an exceptional level of ride comfort. And the Dynamic Select controller in the centre console allows drivers to choose from up to six driving programs, ranging from Sport via Comfort to Offroad, as they have become accustomed to doing while on the move.
The 4MATIC all-wheel-drive system keeps the GLS majestically on course wherever on the planet you happen to be – in the desert, in the high mountains or en route to the supermarket. A single-speed transfer case splits the engine’s power 50:50 between the front and rear axles, while a range of assistance systems, either making their debut in the GLS or being introduced in upgraded form, take care of safety. One example is Collision Prevention Assist Plus, which warns the driver of possible collisions or obstacles and, if necessary, enhances the driver’s braking or brakes the car partially autonomously.
Off-roader and luxury sedan: The best of two worlds come together in the large SUV from Mercedes-Benz.
The LED High Performance Lighting System helps generate better visibility at night, in semi-darkness and in fog by automatically adjusting to the light conditions. And if a storm breaks, the standard-fitted Crosswind Assist system discreetly corrects the car’s line when a gust of wind threatens to knock it off course. The GLS is a vehicle of rare excellence and lavish appointments down to the finest details – one that will find its feet in any situation and need fear no challenge. In all of its variants, the GLS is tuned meticulously to deliver exclusivity. No other SUV can claim to carry over the attributes of a luxury sedan into the off-road sphere with such commitment and rigour, yet without neglecting power and agility. It stands alone in its class, its range of abilities unrivalled.
(Special thanks to dog handlers Alexander and Sandra Gomeringer and their huskies)