Mercedes to add sporty four-seat GLS to 4x4 line-up

Mercedes-Benz is set to extend its line-up of dedicated SUVs with a new BMW X6-rivalling model called the GLS, according to highly placed sources at the German car maker.

Scheduled for launch in 2014, the new four-seater has been conceived around the same new unibody platform that underpins the third-generation M-class and the latest Jeep Grand Cherokee.

See a pic of the Mercedes ML on which the GLS will be based

“After closely monitoring sales trends, we’ve concluded there is potential for an additional off-road model with a more sporting emphasis than the new M-class,” an insider revealed last week.

Part of a new wave of models due in the next five years, the GLS will forgo the practicality of the five-seat M-class for a more sporting four-seat interior, with a racier roofline and styling cues from the CLS saloon.

Read more about the new Mercedes ML

The obvious competitor is the BMW X6, which has been a surprise success with 120,000 sold worldwide since 2009, but it will also face competition in the shape of a new Audi Q6, planned for 2016. And a new Range Rover Sport will be on sale in 2013.

Further details are scarce, but powertrains should include turbocharged 3.5-litre V6 and 4.6 V8 petrols, plus a 3.0 V6 diesel.

Also planned is a diesel-electric hybrid that will share components with an E300 Hybrid that is due to be unveiled at the Frankfurt show in September.

Read about the forthcoming Mercedes E300 hybrid

Crowning the new line-up will be a BMW X6 M-rivalling model from AMG with a turbocharged 5.5-litre V8.

Assembly will be alongside the M-class at the company’s North American factory in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

Greg Kable

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