What is it?
The Mercedes-Benz GLS is a facelifted version of the second-generation GL that has been on sale in the UK since 2012. First revealed at the Los Angeles show, it is planned to reach UK showrooms in March 2016, with prices starting at £69,100 for the entry-level GLS 350 d 4Matic driven here and rising to £102,330 for the range-topping GLS 63 4Matic.
The new GLS name aims to provide the big seven-seat SUV with some of the upmarket cachet already associated with the S-Class. It rounds out the renaming of Mercedes-Benz‘s SUV line-up, in which the GLK has become the GLC and the ML is now known as the Mercedes-Benz GLE. Key among the rivals for the new model is the recently introduced second-generation Audi Q7 and the three-year-old Range Rover.
Along with the new name, the GLS receives a series of subtle exterior styling changes, most prominent among them being a new grille featuring an oversized three-pointed star and twin-blade adornment. There’s also a new front bumper, altered headlight graphics, new tail-light lenses, a revised rear bumper and new wheels – those on the GLS 350 d being 18in in diameter and shod with 265/60 tyres.
The mild styling revisions continue inside, where the GLS adopts an upgraded dashboard featuring a free-standing 7in infotainment monitor, altered instrument graphics and a new multi-function steering wheel. As with the GL, the GLS comes with seven seats as standard.
Among the new connectivity features is the optional Comand Online system. It uses an 8in infotainment monitor and provides wireless LAN hotspot functionality via LTE networks when available. With this system, buyers receive a series of remote services for a period of three years, including a function that allows you to check on the status of the windows, doors, mileage, tyre pressures and other diagnostic data remotely.
The standard engine line-up includes both carry-over and upgraded petrol and diesel units. Each provides improved fuel economy and reduced CO2 emissions due to the adoption of a new nine-speed automatic gearbox in place of the older seven-speed unit.
In selected markets buyers will be able to select between two petrol engines: a twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 developing 328bhp in the GLS 400 4Matic, and a twin-turbocharged 4.7-litre V8 in the GLS 500 4Matic that produces 20bhp more than before at 449bhp.
In the UK, however, Mercedes-Benz is concentrating its sales efforts around the same turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 engine used by the GL 350 CDI. It continues to produce 255bhp in the GLS 350 d 4Matic.
The top engine is an AMG-produced, twin-turbocharged 5.5-litre V8 in the GLS 63 4Matic. It delivers 577bhp - 27bhp more than its predecessor - and 560lb ft, as it did before. Unlike the standard engines available with the new GLS, it continues to be mated to an updated version of AMG’s seven-speed, Speedshift automatic gearbox.
Buyers can specify the GLS with an upgraded Dynamic Select system that offers up to six driving programs including Comfort, Slippery, Sport, Individual, Off-road and, in models equipped with the off-road package, Off-Road Plus.
This last mode activates the low-range gearing and centre differential, as well raising the ride height to provide 306mm of ground clearance, along with a fording depth of 600mm.