REFINED, SAFE AND SOUND
CRAIG DUFF reveals the five things he learnt about the Mercedes-Benz GLS 350d
1. THE NAME HAS CHANGED
This is the last of the Benz SUVs to pick up common naming convention — GLC for compact, GLE for mid-size and GLS big one – as soft-roaders are aligned to the sedans.
The update is just that; an upgrade rather than a new model. As such it can’t match level of opulence found in S-Class limousine but still one the most refined SUVs showrooms.
2. IT’S HEAVEN FOR SEVEN
The GLS is the default option for huge seven-seaters. Audi’s Q7 and BMW’s X5 diesel versions can be had for better than $10,000 less but Benz has best third-row seats, even if they are still only good for kids or small adults on long hauls. With the thirdrow seats down there’s a class-leading (though just) 680L of space to stow prams, bikes furniture. Fold the second and only thing stopping GLS from acting as a moving van is roof height.
3. IT’S AS SAFE AS HOUSES
As the most expensive SUV in this field Benz rolls out of showrooms with digital audio with the latest generation Comand infotainment software, a 360-degree camera and semi-auto parking, leather upholstery, adaptive cruise control, active blindspot and lane-departure assist, and rear cross-traffic assist. To some extent the equipment is above that on a Q7 or X5 but both those rivals are faster more fuel efficient, so the premium is for size badge.
4. IT ISN’T A LANDCRUISER
This is where the calculations get interesting. The Toyota LandCruiser 200 Series Sahara costs more, at $118,500. money buys a thirstier 4.5-litre V8 diesel with marginally more power and torque (200kW/650Nm) than the Mercedes but less in way of active safety and interior toys. In Toyota’s defence, it is designed to do things off-road no GLS owner would consider doing this side of a void insurance claim. A Sport version the GLS 350d adds $19,000 and bigger wheels, active roll-bar, AMG styling inside and out, leather upholstery, tyre pressure monitoring
5. HERE FOR THE LONG HAUL
The GLS 350d really makes sense if you have a big tribe and do a lot of kilometres. Diesel pays for itself — and performs best on long-haul duties. This is by far the cheapest of the range, with GLS 500 weighing in at $161,900.
Audi also only does diesel Q7s, which leaves BMW’s X5 35i as only choice at about this price for those whose daily commute dictates a petrol engine.