RE­FINED, SAFE AND SOUND

CRAIG DUFF re­veals the five things he learnt about the Mercedes-Benz GLS 350d

Geelong Advertiser - Motoring - - FRONT PAGE -

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

metal­lic paint.

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.

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