- Rivals cheaper to run
- Not hugely different to GL-Class
- Missing S-Class headrests
If this 2016 Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class review looks familiar, it’s because actually the car is a facelift of the 2013 GL-Class.
Late in 2014 the firm decided to change the way it names its cars, and as a result its largest SUV was rebadged. The ‘S’ signifies that this model sits alongside the S-Class at the pinnacle of the line-up, above GLA, GLC and GLE models.
It’s a rival to large seven-seat 4x4s such as the Range Rover Sport, Volvo XC90 and Audi Q7. With that in mind, it’s comfortable, spacious and easy to drive; all traits that’ll appeal to the sort of buyer who usually goes for cars like this – wealthy folk after their new family car for the school run. It’ll cut it on the rough stuff too, though.
One engine, one gearbox, all-wheel drive
There’s just the one engine option coming to the UK – called the GLS 350d 4MATIC – but there’s also a monster performance version called the Mercedes-AMG GLS63 4MATIC.
If you’re wondering, the 4MATIC bit means all models get permanent all-wheel drive. It’s a capable car off the road as well as on. Other standard features which help in this respect include the AIRMATIC air suspension, which means you can adjust the ride height for more ground clearance.
The firm’s Dynamic Select system comes as standard offering various driving modes, all selected using the rotary control behind the gear lever.
Another capable off-road Mercedes
Pay for the Off-road package if you want the ultimate in terrain-tackling talents, though – it features an ‘Off-road+’ mode for the Dynamic Select system along with a locking centre differential and low-range gearbox – real hardcore off-roading kit.
Two trims, loads of kit
There are two trim levels to choose from, and of course there’s a vast array of options to further personalise your car. Many interior themes are non-cost options, though, so you’ve got the freedom to tweak your car to your liking without having to spend the earth. We doubt you’ll see many identical GLSs on the road.
There’s an eight-inch screen in the centre console which features a touchpad for controlling the standard COMAND Online infotainment system – both working faultlessly during our short initial test drive in Austria.
We found the seats to be amazingly comfortable, and fit-and-finish in the cabin feels very impressive indeed. It’s very similar in design to the old GL-Class with a couple of modern tweaks, but still feels like a premium proposition.
And given the build quality on show here, we suspect the GLS will prove to be one tough customer in terms of reliability and safety performance. We didn’t notice many issues with the old GL, and have no reason to suspect some now.
Read on for a full appraisal of the Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class.