It’s just three short years since the GL was facelifted (after its initial launch in 2006), so the arrival of the GLS (newly minted as the “S-Class of SUVs”) is really no more than a quick spit and polish and a name change for the old GL.
What remains unchanged is that this is one behemoth of a vehicle: 2.5 tons, 5.1m long, just under two metres wide and capable of hauling seven passengers in opulence along most sorts of terrain, from highways to decidedly bumpy off-road tracks.
The GLS is a rival for the big brothers of the premium SUV world, heading up against the Range Rover, Infiniti QX80, Lexus LX570/LX450d and Audi Q7. It’s somewhat bigger in silhouette than the Porsche Cayenne, Volkswagen Touareg and BMW X5. Unlike those others, this is a particularly teutonic take on the seven-seater soccermom mobile; it looks vast because it genuinely is.
A wheelbase of 3075mm is just part of the secret behind that Business Class interior, which is truly lavishly appointed, and includes a boot space stretching from a less-than-stellar 680 litres to an impressive 2300 litres with the second and third row seats (electrically) stowed – a sized-up load length of 2124mm and overland-worthy payload of 795kg.
As to the visible updates, the grille has been accentuated and the logo expanded, bringing it in line with the new corporate identity, along with some re-work of the bumper and tail lights.
Intelligent LED lights are now all standard, too. A variety of trim packages and 10 new wheel designs ensure that the exterior can be custom-specced.
The range of safety features is equally long and unlistable; suffice to say that further option ticking here will add dramatically to the purchase price.