How do you make a 2.7-tonne Mercedes brisk to drive? Equip it with a turbodiesel engine that produces 457lb ft from 1600rpm. Thus fitted, and driving through a seven-speed torque-converter automatic gearbox, it’s good enough to propel the GL 350 from 0-60mph in 8.3sec, across a standing quarter mile in 16.4sec and from 30-70mph in 8.2sec.
Those numbers are a short way off the latest Range Rover in TDV8 form, but not by an extent worth fretting over. The differences are small and the GL feels, in regular driving, as responsive as you could reasonably ask for.
Its gearshifts, meanwhile, are for the most part smooth and unobtrusive, placing the GL in the right gear and at the right time. The odd exceptions are when it’s a little slow to respond if you’re really pressing on. So best not to, really.
Anyway, the nature of the powertrain doesn’t encourage it. This is an exceptionally quiet diesel engine – or, at least, a remarkably well insulated one. Perhaps it’s like sitting on the upper deck of an Airbus A380; you’re so far removed from the mechanical action that it all seems serene.
Certainly, our noise meter posted some of the quietest numbers we can remember, and although NVH quality is not solely defined by that, it helps. And the Mercedes-Benz GL is quiet.
There are things it isn’t, though. Light is one of them, but still, the GL hauls itself up from 70mph to rest in 47.2m, which is a strong performance. In the wet, it wants more than 50 metres, which is no better than average, but all told the Mercedes-Benz GL is pretty strong either going or stopping.