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The flagship SUV from Mercedes offers more space, more technology and more luxury than its predecessor
Mercedes-Benz has had a flurry of launches recently — the C 63 AMG, AMG GT R and new additions to the GLE lineup. Now though comes one of Mercedes-Benz’s most important cars for India, the new GLS. Not only will it serve to be the halo SUV for the company, but we know how much Indians love big, luxurious SUVs. And the GLS is one of the biggest and most luxurious of them all. This GLS is a new-generation of the SUV, and gets three-rows of seats, all of which are electrically operated, five-zone climate control, the latest MBUX software for the infotainment system, an immense amount of space and exquisite use of materials everywhere.
On the outside, the GLS is one of the few SUVs that look big, imposing and at the same time athletic and taut. The headlights are slim and feature a triple-element LED strip that oddly resembles Puma’s logo. See it? No? Oh, alright. It gets a large grille with two silver strips meeting the Mercedes-Benz logo. A chrome skid plate and small touches of bling give the GLS a very classy front-end. The side profile is long, but the bulges on the body mean that it isn’t dreary, highlighted by silver roof rails and a silver running board at the bottom. The rear of the GLS pays some resemblance to the smaller GLE, with the elongated and split taillamps and rounded edges. At 5213mm in length, 1823mm tall and 1956mm in width the GLS is taller and longer than its main rival, the BMW X7, but not nearly as wide.
It’s probably not fair to compare the new GLS to its predecessor in any way. While it was the flagship SUV at the time, even Mercedes-Benz didn’t call it the S-Class of SUVs, like they did with the new GLS and on the inside is where the GLS truly shines. Two touchscreen 12.3-inch displays take centre stage, powered by the MBUX software. The screens are flanked by vents, the one on the driver side is a functional one for air conditioning while the one on the passenger side is for aesthetic purposes only. There are four AC vents in the centre, like the S-Class, with a row of buttons placed below. Almost every surface in the interior has been lined with ambient lighting which gives the interior of the GLS a very space-age look. The steering wheel is similar to the ones we have seen in other Mercedes-Benz vehicles, allowing the driver to control a multitude of functions right from the steering wheel. The second row of seats can be specced with a set of Android-based tablets that can control a lot of the car's functions. The second row comes as standard with a bench setup and the centre seat lowers to double up as an armrest. The third row is one of the most luxurious of any SUV on the market, offering two individual seats that the company claims are enough to house adults upto 6-feet tall. The third row even gets its own climate zone, adding up to a total of five climate zones in the GLS. Since all the rows are electrically operated, you can lower (or raise) the seats by the push of a button placed in the boot if you need the luggage space.
In India, we will get the GLS with two engines — the 400d which is an in-line six-cylinder diesel making 325bhp and 700Nm of torque, and the 450 which is a six-cylinder, electrified petrol engine making 361bhp, 500Nm of torque (with a further 250 Nm of torque and 21 hp available via the EQ Boost over short periods). Both engines are mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission that sends power to all four wheels via the Mercedes’ 4Matic system. The GLS rides on air suspension as standard, and can be raised or lowered in height depending on the driving conditions.
Both the GLS 400d and the GLS 450 start at Rs 99 lakh. The GLS is an expensive SUV, but it is one worthy of the price tag. Our Ed has driven a lot of cars and he has rarely come away as impressed by an SUV as he did with the GLS, both on the road and off it. The Mercedes-Benz GLS goes up against the BMW X7, which starts at Rs 92.5 lakh and goes up to Rs 1.63 crore for the recently launched M50d variant.