Mercedes-Benz GLS 450 first drive review
Mercedes-Benz dubs the GLS-Class as the S-Class of SUVs, a bold comparison to a car often touted as the best in the world. However, this generation has successfully lived up to such lofty claims. The GLS has recently undergone a subtle facelift and refresh for the year 2024, boasting updated styling, rejuvenated interiors, the latest MBUX technology, and, notably, mild hybrid technology for the diesel variant. We got behind the wheel of the GLS 450 to see what’s changed.
2024 Mercedes-Benz GLS 450 styling
The front end of the 2024 Mercedes-Benz GLS gets a striking-looking grille with four horizontal silver slats. While I do prefer the starry grille seen on the GLE, this new face is certainly imposing. Below, there is an all-new bumper with chrome trim on the skid plate element. The grilles on either side of the bumper have also been reshaped; however, these serve a purely decorative purpose as they are completely blocked off. Additionally, the LED headlamps have undergone subtle reprofiling, contributing to the overall refreshed look.
The GLS still rides on 21-inch wheels, which do look a tad undersized in the context of the colossal 5.2-metre-long SUV. To help passengers hoist themselves into the GLS, it gets a full-length running board, complemented by more brightwork on the window trim and roof rails. The rear of the GLS gets all new tail lamps with a three-element design and a new bumper with more chrome on the diffuser element. Faux dual exhaust finishers adorn the bumper, while the actual exhaust exits are positioned below.
2024 Mercedes-Benz GLS 450 interior and equipment
The 2024 Mercedes-Benz GLS gets a new steering wheel similar to the one in the S-Class. The wheel itself is a joy to hold; however, the touch-sensitive controls do have a tendency to get activated if you accidentally brush them while turning the wheel. The overall design of the cabin remains the same, although the 2024 GLS does get silver A/C vents and pinstriped piano black trim from its posher Maybach cousin.
The equipment list gets a more significant upgrade with the dual 12.3-inch screen setup receiving the latest MBUX software. This brings with it a fresh user interface, with the choice of three different graphics for the driver display. The facelifted GLS also gets the parking package as standard, which features a 360-degree camera and an off-road tab with a transparent bonnet function. The GLS also gets the driving assistance package, which features forward collision avoidance, adaptive cruise control, and stop-and-go assist.
The fantastic 13-speaker, 590-watt Burmester audio system is now standard across the board, as is the ambient lighting system from the S-Class, five-zone climate control, ventilated front seats, and nine airbags. Owners who let the chauffeur do the driving will not be disappointed, as the second-row seats are spacious and supremely comfortable. Unlike the captain's chairs in the BMW X7, the second-row seat is a bench for three individuals. Passengers are also treated to the MBUX entertainment system, which features two 11.6-inch touch screens that can be used to play media, browse the internet, or access various functions of the infotainment system. This system can be operated using voice commands or the removable tablet neatly integrated into the centre armrest. The third row gets its own climate zone and is capacious enough to accommodate adults for shorter journeys.
2024 Mercedes-Benz GLS 450 engine and drivetrain
The tested GLS 450 is propelled by a 3-litre, six-cylinder turbo-petrol engine featuring an integrated starter generator unit. This mild hybrid system regenerates energy while coasting or under braking, which it then uses to augment the ICE under acceleration. This unit adds 20bhp and 200Nm of torque for a peak output of 395bhp and 700Nm of torque. The result is a claimed 0 to 100kmph time of 6.1 seconds. Impressive for any car, let alone a 3-tonne SUV. What's more impressive is the instant response you get from the mild hybrid system, effectively eliminating the turbo lag typically associated with turbocharged engines.
The smooth and refined nature of the engine is complemented by a touch of character. At low revs, it remains hushed and muted, thanks in no small part to the mild hybrid system, but as the revs climb, it reveals a distant yet enjoyable growl. However, revel in the performance for too long and the fuel economy will take a significant hit.
Those looking for more economy will be pleased to note that the diesel GLS 400d has been replaced by the GLS 450d with mild hybrid technology. This powertrain produces 362bhp and 750Nm of torque in addition to the 22bhp and 200Nm of the mild hybrid system.
2024 Mercedes-Benz GLS 450 chassis, ride and handling
Where the GLS falls slightly short of being equal to the S-Class is the ride quality. At slower speeds, some of the sharper bumps can be felt in the cabin, but this does reduce significantly as the speeds increase. Nevertheless, it is an incredibly cosseting space and does ride superbly for an SUV, but an S-Class is still a league apart. The GLS does compensate for this by being more capable off-road than most owners will ever require it to be.
While the GLS’ handling is in no way sporty, its 275-section front and 315-section rear tyres generate a huge amount of grip. After the initial body roll, the GLS does corner at a surprising rate of knots, although the overall experience does lack involvement.
2024 Mercedes-Benz GLS 450 verdict
While cosmetically, this is a relatively minor refresh, the GLS remains an impressive SUV. The mild hybrid powertrain gives this gigantic SUV incredible performance and improves fuel efficiency. Although pricing details are yet to be announced, a marginal premium is expected, considering the outgoing model's cost of Rs 1.33 crore. The BMW X7 may offer a sportier driving experience, but the GLS does luxury like no other. With its extraordinary in-cabin experience, spacious interiors, and advanced powertrain, the GLS comes remarkably close to being the S-Class of SUVs.