GLS is more

More polished, more techy and much more expensive


Don’t be fooled by the use of the word ‘hybrid’ in connection with the entire engine line-up for the revised GLS. This huge, luxurious seven-seat SUV does indeed now have mild hybrids all round, but it’s like asking a desk fan to assist an ocean liner. CO2 emissions remain high, and we averaged economy in the high 20s in mixed driving from the 450d.

We’re not complainin­g. In the context of alternativ­es such as the BMW X7 and Range Rover that consumptio­n is par for the course, although the Range Rover is available as a PHEV, tested in this issue, and if it’s clean running you’re after then you could always go for Merc’s EQS SUV. But taken on its own terms, the GLS is better luxury family transport than its electric cousin. And the recent changes are mostly – but not entirely – for the better.

Rather than copy the BMW X7 and ditch loads of physical controls, the interior looks much the same as before, save for some new trim and an updated infotainme­nt system that remains good to look at and easy to use. The fly in that ointment is the new steering wheel with its myriad touch-sensitive icons and sliders. They’re just too easy to trigger accidental­ly. Catching the volume by mistake is annoying, triggering the cruise control in the same way is worrying. Adults in rows one and two have ample space, and there’s enough room for two adults in row three if you wind the central bench forward a bit. Boot space is useful with all seven seats in place, outstandin­g with five, and van-like with just two.

In the cabin, at armrest level and above everything feels solidly constructe­d, and there’s a good mix of leather, wood trim and squishy plastics. Below this, you’ll find surprising­ly hard and scratchy materials used on the lower door cards. Petty? Maybe, but I’d expect better in a six-figure SUV.

While plenty of markets get a broader range of options, we get a choice of two 3.0-litre six-cylinder engines, one petrol and



£108,070 (GLS 450d AMG Line Premium Plus)


2989cc 24v turbodiese­l six-cyl, nine-speed auto, all-wheel drive

New steering wheel gets fiddly controls

one diesel. This 362bhp oil-burner hits 0-62mph in 6.1 seconds and feels pleasingly muscular from not much past idle. Refinement isn’t quite as good as the X7 and Range Roger, with noise levels that bring to mind a V6 Ford Ranger, but the sound isn’t entirely unpleasant, and the stop/start works with impercepti­ble smoothness thanks to the mild-hybrid tech.

With weight sitting at a porky 2.8 tonnes and the cleverest suspension only fitted to the top Maybach GLS, the driving experience of the 450d is more Range Rover than X7. Floor the throttle and the nose lifts comically, and there’s plenty of lean in the bends, too.

However, there’s an honesty to how this SUV drives and a heft to the controls which is very satisfying, and allows you to cover ground at pace. Feel and feedback? You’re looking at the wrong type of car.

Body control is far better than you’ll find in an EQE or EQS SUV, and the GLS deals with road imperfecti­ons better too, even on giant 23-inch wheels. It’s not quite Range Rover supple, but it’s not far off. ★★★★★


362bhp @ 4000rpm, 553|b ft @ 1350rpm, 6.1sec 0-62mph, 155mph





32.1mpg, 231g/km CO2

1 minute

Yikes – |’d forgotten how big these are

3 minutes

Toggle switches for the heater and buttons for the heated seats mean a quick defrost for me

14 minutes

This feels better resolved than the last GLS | drove

28 minutes

| wonder how much comfier it’d be with a more modest wheel-and-tyre package

50 minutes

Reaching into a door pocket, it feels like |’ve suddenly put my hand in an entry-level A-Class


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