This is the first time we've driven Merc’s luxury off-road flagship in the UK. Until the G 63 AMG arrives in Britain this is the top-of-the-line model, the 5.5-litre, 65-grand GL 500.
What’s it like?
As impressive as the V8 diesel we tested recently, but faster. It’s less urgent from low revs, but makes a nicer, smoother noise and is very rapid once it’s wound up. It’s as quick as you’d want to go in a 2.5-tonne off-roader, frankly.
Off-road it’s just as competent as the diesel – which means it’s very good, if too long in the wheelbase to comfortably crest some sharp humps. It’s thirsty: we’d reckon the 20mpg claim is a shade optimistic.
The spacious, seven-seat interior feels excellently constructed and the seats fold intelligently. And in this GL 500 form you get the full quota of equipment: all the usual niceties, plus soft Nappa leather seats, active headlights and an automatic opening/closing tailgate. Though that doesn’t stop the options list allowing a price on the wrong side of £70k.
Should I buy one?
Not sure. The GL is very impressive – capable on-road and off – but these cars are starting to get too big for British roads and towns. The GL has more off-road ability than an ML and all the space of an R-class. But, really, do you need it?