Mercedes GLS

GLS – first impressions of the S Class of SUVs live up to its name. Especially off road

Mercedes-Benz’s latest incarnation of its largest and most luxurious SUV has landed in South Africa. More spacious, more comfortable and more luxurious than ever, the new Mercedes-Benz GLS has grown even bigger too. Riding on a 60 mm longer wheelbase, the new GLS’ luxurious and comfortable cabin is more cavernous. But what impressed most on launch, is GLS’ giant off-road capability.


The new GLS is available in the choice of the 400d 4M and the 580 4M, which presents the world première of that new engine

The GLS 580 4Matic gets an all-new 360 kW 700 Nm electrified four litre biturbo petrol V8. It has an additional 16 kW and 250 Nm of electric torque on demand too. That courtesy of its bonus integrated 48-volt EQ Boost starter-generator. So, despite its enormous stature, the S Class of SUVs accelerates to 100 km/h in 4.7 seconds and tops out at a spoilsport 250 km/h. Never mind its shockingly frugal combined 9.8 l/100 km at 224 g/km.

The 243 kW 700 Nm GLS 400 d 4Matic accelerates to 100 km/h in 6.8 seconds, tops 238 km/h, sips 7.6 l/100 km and emits 201 g/km CO2. Both models drive to Mercedes’ 4Matic all-wheel drive via a 9G-Tronic automatic transmission. It’s ratios were selected to ‘deliver a fine balance between comfort and capability across all GLS’s broad range of abilities’.

GLS gets optimised suspension mounts for maximum ride comfort. Enhanced Airmatic air suspension with adaptive damping real time adapts to prevalent road and driving conditions. And maintains a level tack on he road, regardless of the load. Off-road functions include recovery mode in the optional Off Road Engineering package.


The point is, you have to really try hard to get stuck in the Mercedes-Benz GLS. It is absolutrly astounding in the dirt and makes 4×4 driving, well, completely effortless. It even seems to mask the most extreme driving angles and the 580 we drove made an absolute mockery of obsacles that I remember getting butterflies over in the X-Class a while back. This car takes 4×4 to another level.

GLS also gets latest generation Mercedes-Benz driving assistance systems in its comprehensive armory. Active Distance Assist Distronic uses route-based speed adaptation to recognise and respond before the driver becomes aware of a traffic hazard and there’s also Trailer Manoeuvring Assist to ease towing.

First launched in 2006 before a 2015 facelift emphasised its luxury character, the full-size Mercedes-Benz SUV combines modern luxury with the character of an off-roader. The press pack defines it well — ‘the GLS boasts a cabin that is the synthesis of modern, luxurious aesthetics, hallmark SUV practicality, and digital high-tech. It’s the best of all worlds.’


GLS exudes an even more powerful presence. Its bold, upright radiator grille and distinctive headlamp design cuts an imposing figure on the road. Moving aft, a powerful shoulder line extends around to the tail lights in an ‘imperious’ poise. Excellent aerodynamics meanwhile help reduce fuel consumption and limit wind noise. The new GLS achieves a 0.32 coefficient of drag — significantly more slippery than its 0.35 cd predecessor.

We need not go into the specifics of that Hey Mercedes MBUX infotainment and free-floating dashboard. GLS has it all and then some. Novelties however include wireless-charging in the centre console and additional USB ports spread through the cabin.

With more than ample space for seven people that generous GLS cabin is now even more spacious and comfortable. Especially in the second row.An optional Rear Comfort Package adds rockstar appeal. It gets luxury head restraints with additional cushions and an extended centre console with cup holders. Add a removable 7-inch Android tablet to allow touch control of all the MBUX infotainment from the back.

The rear cockpit gets its own five-zone automatic climate control, while the comfortable third row is suitable for people as tall as 1.94 m. Both the power adjustable second and third row seats also fold down flat into the floor at the touch of a button. That increases boot space to as much as a panel van like 2400 litres.


All in all, our time with the all-new Mercedes-Benz GLS was way too short to come to an adequate conclusion on its ability. But the little time we did spend with it off the road was enough to understand how sublime this monster really is. We now look forward to spending some quality time with one to bring you the full story. Somehow we already think that verdict may just be sublime.

Mercedes-Benz GLS Pricing
400d               R1,84M
580                R2,02M
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