Mercedes-Benz GLS400

Winning utility formula

"While SUV encounters luxury limousine - GL meets S!" said Issam.

"Overall the GLS handles extraordinary well for a vehicle its size."

"Is the GLS truly the S-Class among SUVs?"

I know that the latest change of nominations in the Mercedes lineup confused most of us, but I can tell you something that will help you easily memorize the entire lineup: The actual sedans that you know are A-Class, C-Class, E-Class and S-Class. SUVs combine the first letter of each sedan, and Mercedes-Benz completed the whole lineup with the GLS. For the A-Class you have the GLA, C-Class is the GLC, E-Class is the GLE and S-Class is the GLS.

I picked up my test vehicle from T.Gargour & Fils, official distributor of Mercedes-Benz in Lebanon, for a pretty long weekend.

What's new on the GLS versus the outgoing GL model?
The GL hasn't just been mutated into the GLS, but has got some mechanical twists as well. There's a new nine-speed automatic transmission and a selectable terrain system.

The facelifted GLS benefits from a more modern look with bullet-shaped headlights, a sleeker hexagonal grille, and a revised bumper with larger air intakes. The back end features new-look LED tail lamps and a reshaped bumper, while new Designo paint colors and a comprehensive range of alloy wheel designs further differentiate the GLS from the model it's designed to replace.

Updates to the cabin feature a new three-spoke steering wheel in Nappa leather, an instrument panel with Media Display, and a center console with touchpad control. The ambient lighting comes in three color shades and Mercedes now offers an available air ionization system.

For the first time, the GLS gets an AMG Line interior with sports seats in Exclusive Nappa leather, a sports steering wheel in black Exclusive Nappa leather, instrument dials in a checkered flag look, and brushed stainless steel sport pedals with rubber studs.

How does it drive?
It's a Benz, there is no question about it, but I can happily tell you that with the Dynamic Select switch set to Comfort mode I was cruising along smoothly and relaxed. Although the highways in Lebanon do not really give you the chance to cruise without traffic, somehow during the night it was feasible. After setting the advanced cruise control Distronic Plus to the speed limit of 120 km/h, the car accelerates and brakes appropriately whenever there is a car in front, keeping a safe distance. Overall the GLS handles extraordinarily well for a vehicle its size.

Verdict
All in all it is the ultimate luxury seven-seater version of the S-Class. My worry is that none of the German's competition has a direct rival that matches the GLS 100 percent. Audi has the Q8 and BMW the X7 in the pipeline. For now the Q7 is somehow a rival, but I would rather say Range Rover, Lexus LX570, Infiniti QX80, and Cadillac Escalade. If you have the pennies required, the GLS is the prime choice for a happy family with long road trips.

Pros: Quiet cabin, high-end trimmings and features, third row is big enough for adults
Cons: Big price variance among the six-cylinder models and the V8
Rivals: Audi Q7, Range Rover, Lexus LX570, Infiniti QX80, Cadillac Escalade, Lincoln Navigator
4 stars
one word: stretched

Specs
3.0L V6 biturbo, 333 hp @ 5,250-6,000 rpm, 480 Nm @1,600-4,000 rpm
9-speed auto, AWD
0-100 km/h: 6.6 sec, top speed: 240 km/h, fuel consumption: 12 L/100 km
Weight: 2,435 kg

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