Mercedes GLS (2013-2019) interior
The interior is let down by an old-fashioned design and a rather dated infotainment system, but everything you touch on a regular basis feels high-quality
The Mercedes GLS’ interior feels pretty old-fashioned compared to the slick cabins you’ll find in an Audi Q7 and Volvo XC90. Its hard plastic centre console is absolutely festooned with buttons that feel like they’ve been lifted from a Nokia 3310 – hardly befitting of a luxurious SUV.
Fortunately, most of the surfaces you’ll regularly touch feel solid and come with plush finishes. Sure, the black trims around the air vents and on the centre console are easy to scratch and the electric window switches feel disappointingly brittle but the man-made leather armrest and dashboard trims feel soft and supple.
Entry-level AMG Line cars come with interior mood lighting and piano black dashboard trims but you can replace these with either glossy walnut or stylish unvarnished ash inserts for free. You can get even sportier carbon-fibre items instead but these will set you back an eye-watering £1,100.
Also standard are real leather seats (instead of the Artico man-made items you’ll find in most other Mercedes AMG Line models) and an eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system with built-in sat nav.
Step up to a Designo Line model and you’ll get more comfortable seats with massage functions, electric window blinds for the back seats and even heated cupholders that’ll keep your coffee warm. Range-topping GLS 63 models get more supportive sports seats, plenty of AMG badges and a flat-bottomed steering wheel.
The GLS enormous boxy interior and seating for seven makes it feel like you’re driving the most luxurious London bus ever
Every GLS comes with an eight-inch iPad-like display mounted up on the dashboard. You’ll control everything from the colour of the mood lighting to the sat-nav directions through this system.
Unlike in a Volvo XC90, it’s not a touchscreen – instead you control it using the rotary dial down the centre console and the buttons on the steering wheel. As a result, it’s not quite as intuitive but you can quickly tweak settings without taking your eyes off the road for too long.
Being mounted on top of the dashboard makes it easy to glance at on the move but its graphics aren’t as pin-sharp as those in the Q7 and you can’t get it with a digital driver’s display in place of conventional analogue dials like the Audi’s Virtual Cockpit system.
Thankfully, it’s relatively easy to input a destination into the standard-fit sat nav and its directions are easy to follow. If you’re not keen on Mercedes’ own navigation system, no problem – every GLS comes with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone mirroring so you can use your phone’s navigation apps through the car’s built-in screen instead.
These systems also let you stream music from apps such as Spotify through the car’s stereo. Its Harman Kardon unit might not be quite as crystal clear as the Volvo’s optional Bowers & Wilkins stereo but it comes with 14 speakers scattered about the cabin to really rattle your passengers’ fillings – even in the back seats.
Speaking of back seats, you can get a set of eight-inch digital displays with TV and DVD playback features built into the front-seat headrests, but unless you’ve got £2,495 to spare they’re best avoided.