Mercedes-Benz Australia this week confirmed local specifications and pricing for the third iteration of the GLS-Class – the largest SUV in the German brand’s lineup. Known in its original form, and for most of its second generation, as the GL, the GLS is pitched as the S-Class of SUVs – and the bigger, more sumptuous third-gen car looks to be the best effort yet.
The new GLS will compete against other uber-luxe SUVs such as the Audi Q8 and BMW X7, as well as offering a more suitable SUV option for those who might have considered an S-Class but need the ability to carry more than five on a regular basis.
The third GLS has been stretched by a significant 77mm over the already large second-generation vehicle, with the wheelbase growing 60mm longer and body 22mm wider. As a result, Mercedes-Benz claims the third row will be suitable for people measuring up to 6’4” tall while those 6’7” should be comfortable in the second row.
Naturally, the extra length and width means boot space is up, in fact with all three seat rows up capacity is 355 litres – comparable to a mid-size hatchback. With the back row folded, this grows to a generous 895 litres, and with both rows folded the new GLS packs 100 more litres than the second-gen, bringing the total to 2,400 litres.
Outside the new GLS sports lines that are a little more organic and overall, the new version looks less bricky than the outgoing model. It hasn’t gone soft though, with the AMG exterior package – the sole styling offered in Australia – the big GLS looks imposing, leading with a snout reminiscent of the brand’s smaller GLC and GLE.
The latest gen of Mercedes-Benz interior design is fairly flashy, but it works here in conjunction with the exterior on this behemoth. Dual 12.3-inch screens run the company’s MBUX infotainment and bring technology up to date, minimising buttons and sporting a contemporary appearance. Though there are a large number of differing materials throughout the cabin, we expect them to be high-quality.
Both GLS variants offered for Australia are specified with a slightly sportier package than the standard iterations sold in Europe. The AMG exterior styling package is joined by a sport steering wheel inside, with dual touch pads for controlling the infotainment system.
The large seats promise to be cosseting. Other standard spec is generous, with LED headlights, 64-colour interior ambient lighting, smartphone mirroring and voice control all aboard.
Two models will be available to Australians, arriving in December 2019. The GLS 450 lists at $144,600 and is motivated by a turbocharged three-litre turbocharged straight six petrol engine producing 270kW/500Nm. All four wheels are driven through a nine-speed torque converter automatic gearbox.
The GLS 450 also makes use of a mild hybrid system powered by the 48-volt electrical architecture which sees the six-cylinder’s outputs boosted by 16kW/250Nm in short bursts. The 48-volt system also allows ‘sail mode’, which sees the combustion engine cut while the GLS is cruising down hill. The system also contributes to the reasonable official fuel consumption figure of 9.2L/100km.
Notably, the GLS arrives in Australia at a significant price premium to its key rival, the BMW X7, which is available in three-litre diesel xDrive30d form from $124,900 ($135,375 driveaway).
A diesel variant of the GLS will also be available. The GLS 400d will list for $151,300 – a $6,700 premium over the petrol. This three-litre inline six-cylinder oiler makes 243kW/700Nm with Mercedes-Benz claiming it will return consumption of 7.7L/100km. Despite the significant jump over the GLS 450 in price, specification does not get a boost in the diesel version.
Both variants are fitted with leather seats with electric adjustment on both rows, while the front pair get heating and ventilation as standard. A 13 speaker, 590 watt Burmester stereo is included, as is quad-zone climate control, a panoramic sunroof, and soft-close doors. On the safety front, a 360-degree parking camera joins high-speed AEB, adaptive cruise control, blind spot assistance and rear cross-traffic alert.
It’s a pretty packed specification list, though of course options are available, with ten colours on offer as well as a $1,900 tow-bar allowing owners to tap into the generous 3,500kg towing capacity. Standard equipment includes a towing stability program, which can brake individual wheels if trailer sway is detected.
For another $3,500 an offroad pack can be specified, which sees low-range and variable all-wheel-drive, hill descent control and underbody protection added, it will be interesting to see how muddy you can get a set of 21-inch alloys.
The other variant coming at launch is the GLS 400d, which starts at $151,300 (driveaway pricing not yet available). This engine outputs 243kW and a whopping 700Nm thanks to a turbocharged three-litre inline six-cylinder diesel engine. This is matched to the same 9 speed torque-converter automatic and 4MATIC all-wheel drive, with remarkable 7.7l/100km claimed fuel consumption.
These two variants will be available from next month, the extra space and tech represent pretty impressive value for a premium brand, but we’re really hanging out to see if Mercedes-AMG get their hand on one for a last petrol-slurping hurrah with a bonkers AMG GLS 63.
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