Jaco Van Der Merwe

By Jaco Van Der Merwe

Head of Motoring


Ultra-plush Mercedes-Benz GLS is large and in charge

The big daddy of Merc's SUV family ticks all the boxes on any wish list.


If you want the world to know you are large and in charge, there are few cars that can make the kind of statement the Mercedes-Benz GLS can.

Spacious, plush and powerful, the big daddy of Merc’s SUV family ticks all the boxes on any wish list. And, thanks to a series of updates, the “S-Class of SUVs” is now better than ever.

Mercedes-Benz South Africa (MBSA) last week showcased the new GLS, which is offered in 450d and 580 guise and comes standard as a seven-seater, and – for the ultimate statement – the ultra-luxury Mercedes-Maybach GLS600, which is made to order.

MBSA will also roll out the new Mercedes-AMG GLS63 in due course.

New touches

One of the exterior tweaks is the striking new front grille that now features four instead of two louvres clad in what Merc calls Silver Shadow hue. The front also features a redesigned bumper with restyled integrated air vents, clad in gloss black, and a simulated underguard.

At the rear, the only change is the addition of three horizontal blocks to the LED tail lights.

The Maybach GLS600 sports a chrome grille and galvanised silver side vents integrated into a unique Maybach bumper.

Mercedes-Benz GLS
Three horizontal blocks were added to the Mercedes-Benz GLS’ taillights. Picture: Jaco van der Merwe

Inside, the standard GLS is a combination of luxury lounge and a tech fest, with the Maybach raising the bar even higher. Black leather and a variety of high-quality materials tell you that you are sitting in no ordinary car.

ALSO READ: Touched-up Mercedes-Benz GLS and Maybach GLS 600 priced

No shortage of screens

Two 12.3-inch screens feature the latest version of MBUX software that include “Hey Mercedes” voice recognition system. Up to three 11.6-inch entertainment screens with wireless headsets are available as optional extras for the second row.

The Maybach features diamond quilted Nappa leather seats with specific perforations.

There is no shortage of leg and headroom in the second row and while legroom is adequate in the third row, it’s still not the place for adults on longer trips. With all seven seats up, boot space is a credible 355 litres.

Mercedes-Benz GLS gets electric boost

Similar to its smaller GLC and GLE siblings, all GLS engine variants now benefit from electrical assistance in the form of the 48-volt mild-hybrid EQ Boost system.

In the case of the 580, the 380kW/730Nm 4.0-litre bi-turbo V8 petrol mill gets an additional 16kW of power and 250Nm of torque for short spells. Mercedes claims it will reach 100km/h from a standstill in 4.9 seconds.

The Mercedes-Benz GLS 450d benefits from 15kW/200Nm over and above the 270kW of power and 750Nm of torque produced by its 3.0-litre straight-six turbodiesel engine. It will help it sprint from 0-100km/h in 6.1sec.

The Maybach GLS 600 gets an additional 16kW/250Nm to the 410kW/770Nm, made by its 4.0-litre bi-turbo V8 petrol mill, which will see it sprint from 0-100km/h in 4.9sec.

On all variants, the twist is sent to all four wheels via 9G-Tronic transmission, with the top speed limited to 250km/h.

ALSO READ: Mercedes-AMG GLS 63: Living it large and loving it

Off-road ready

The optional off-road engineering package includes an underride guard and 30mm additional ground clearance, made possible by the Airmatic air suspension.

Mercedes-Benz GLS
The interior of the Mercedes-Benz GLS 450d. Picture: Jaco van der Merwe

To further enhance off-roading, a projected camera image through a “transparent bonnet” allows you to see under the car.

Standard on the Maybach is a feature called free driving assist, which uses the air suspension to bounce the car up and down should it get stuck in the sand. But even on tarmac, this is a party trick as it seems to bounce to the beat of music.

ALSO READ: Plush new Mercedes-Benz GLC raises the bar in luxury

Smooth diesel power

The Citizen Motoring had the opportunity to sample the Mercedes-Benz GLS 450d during a launch drive around Lanseria airport last week. This is as refined a diesel engine as you could wish to find, with a butter-smooth gearbox.

You do get a sense of its 2 540kg weight under hard acceleration and braking. But that is not what the GLS is about – getting there in comfort and style is. The air suspension makes it feel you are floating on clouds along with the serenity of the ultra-quiet cabin.

Flick the drive mode selector into Sport and the Mercedes-Benz GLS 450d knows how to hustle.

“The GLS reaffirms itself as an opulent continent cruiser. It encapsulates the driver and passengers in iconic luxury,” says Mark Raine, MBSA co-chief executive.

We couldn’t agree more.

Mercedes-Benz GLS pricing

  • Mercedes-Benz GLS 450d − R2 304 700
  • Mercedes-Benz GLS 580 − R2 840 600
  • Mercedes-Maybach GLS 600 − R4 500 000
    *Pricing includes two-year/unlimited km warranty and five-year/100 000km maintenance plan.

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