This is the new Mercedes GLS. Merc’s huge flagship SUV has space for seven adults, four-wheel drive as standard and comes packed full of tech. Engines include a pair of six-cylinder diesels and a V8 petrol.
new Mercedes GLS
seven seats; MBUX infotainment
Price and release date
From £75,000; April 2019
Sign up to our newsletter
Get notified on the latest car news, reviews and videos
2019 Mercedes GLS styling
The first thing that’ll strike you about the new Mercedes GLS isn’t how it looks but how big it is. At 5,207mm in length, it’s nearly 20cm longer than an Audi Q7. A car you’d have previously labelled huge.
Up front, the Merc gets a massive twin-louvre grille which, according to Mercedes, exudes presence and power, an idea the power domes on the bonnet really drive home. Naturally, you get a pair of seriously potent headlights because all GLS variants get Mercedes’ Multibeam matrix LEDs as standard. They’re as powerful as the law allows, have a range of 650m and are made up of 112 separate LEDs each, which are computer controlled – allowing you to use the full power of the lights even in oncoming traffic. Contained within the headlight units are triple-eyebrow daytime running lights that are carried over from the S-Class saloon.
Around the sides, the crease that runs from the front to the back wheels gives the GLS the car equivalent of shoulder pads, while around the back you get double-rectangular LEDs with a three-dimensional appearance and a chrome strip running between them.
Strangely, while the GLS looks massive from every angle it is more aerodynamic than the old model cutting its drag coefficient from 0.35 to 0.32Cd.
2019 Mercedes GLS interior
To secure the GLS’ image as Merc’s top-tier SUV, it gets an interior that looks extremely similar to the one you’ll find in the company’s Mercedes S-Class flagship saloon.
The GLS’ interior is dominated by two huge screens that expand from behind the steering wheel to the centre of the dashboard. They’re surrounded by leather trim, which, as well as covering the dashboard, trims the inside of the doors and the seats. If they’re not covered in leather then the cabin’s surfaces get treated to open-pore wood veneers and even buttons feel classy because they’re made from machined metals.
2019 Mercedes GLS practicality
The beauty of the GLS is that it combines this S-Class rivalling luxury with an extraordinary amount of interior space.
That means all of the GLS’ seven seats are big enough for adults and are electrically adjustable. Knee room has increased by up to 87mm in the middle row compared to the old model, while even the seats in the third row are suitable for adults up to 6′ 3″ tall. Like the rest of the seats, your passengers in the furthest row get seats that are heated, have their own ventilation controls and also have their own USB connections.
If you’re carrying a big load rather than people, you can fold away the back seats electrically to gain yourself a 2,400-litre boot – about 15% bigger than a BMW X7. Loading should be easy because you can fold all the rear seats electrically by holding a single button and the car itself can drop by 50mm to make it easier to slide heavy items into place.
2019 Mercedes GLS infotainment
The Mercedes GLS gets the company’s MBUX infotainment as standard which comes complete with two 12.3-inch displays. It can be controlled using spoken voice commands, via the touchscreen or by using the scroll controller between the front seats. Its MBUX operating system can learn habits so – if you listen to the news on Radio 4 when you drive into work – it’ll automatically offer to change to Radio 4 when you start the car on the morning commute.
Along with the standard kit, you can also choose from a variety of cost options. Interior Assistant, for example, allows the system to distinguish between the driver and the front-seat passenger – bringing up your corresponding menu when you move your hand towards the screen. You can also have a full-colour headup display with a 720×240 resolution.
The clever infotainment isn’t reserved for you and your front-seat passenger, with the Rear Comfort Package Plus your back-seat passengers get fancy infotainment, too. The pack buys you a seven-inch tablet that’s integrated into the middle row’s centre armrest allowing your passengers access to internet, radio and phone. To take things to the next level you’ll need the MBUX rear-seat entertainment system which gives your passengers in the middle a pair of 11.6-inch touchscreens. Finally, you can upgrade to luxury seats that’ll give your second-row passengers a soothing massage.
2019 Mercedes GLS engines and gearbox
The new GLS will be available with a choice of three engines in the UK– the GLS 580 petrol and the diesel 350d and 400d.
The V8 GLS 580 tops the range producing 489hp and 700Nm of torque, which can be boosted by a further 22hp and 250Nm of torque courtesy of a 48v electrical system mated to an oversized starter motor that provides fill-in power when it’s needed. The 48V system also means the car has improved brake force recuperation for better fuel economy, although, even with it, you’ll still not see better than 28mpg.
Unless you own an oil field then, you’ll probably be better off with one of the diesel models. Whether you go for the 286hp 350d with 600Nm of torque or the 367hp 450d with 700Nm, they are capable of returning fuel economy of more than 35mpg and their low-down grunt will be ideal for shifting the hefty GLS.
Whether you go for petrol or diesel, the Mercedes comes as standard with a nine-speed automatic gearbox and a four-wheel drive system that can shift 100% of power to the front or the rear tyres – whichever have the most grip. If you do plan to use the car offroad you can also pay extra for a low range gearbox that means the GLS can maintain momentum through tricky obstacles, and also help you set off when you’re towing a heavy trailer.
2019 Mercedes GLS driving
Along with the kit you’d expect of an off-roader the GLS also comes with all the kit you’d expect of a Mercedes. It comes as standard with air suspension that’s so comfortable it’s as if you’re cruising down the road in your bed. You can even have a more sophisticated setup in the form of the E-Active Body Control suspension. It can control individual springs and dampers to prevent the car leaning over in corners but also to stop it pitching under braking and squatting when you accelerate. The system even allows the car to lean into bends like a motorcycle on road and can rock the car free if you get stuck off-road.
Active cruise control that can accelerate and brake the car for you comes as standard and it can even reduce your speed when the sat-nav detects tail-backed motorway traffic. Go fo the Driver Assistance Package Plus and you also get Active Stop-and-Go Plus which can drive the car for you in tailbacks. Finally their’s Trailer Manoeuvre Assist which helps you get to grips with reversing while towing.
The new 2019 Mercedes GLS was revealed at the Shanghai motor show today so you can expect the car to go on sale in the summer. It is expected to have a starting price of around £75,000 – about the same as you’ll pay for a BMW X7 – but go for a top-of-the-range model with a few options and that’ll easily increase to more than £100,000.