Details of the new Mercedes GL have been released, and it looks good. Very good, in fact. They made it more fuel efficient, more luxurious, lighter, stiffer, safer, and more spacious. Its still huge, but then its built for the American market, which isnt a bad thing, as it means that Mercedes has fitted heated and cooled cup holders, which we like a lot.
The new GL is as luxurious as the Mercedes S Class and is pitched against the Range Rover and even (God forbid that it ever sees the light of day) the Bentley SUV for the Yankee dollar.
Thats all very well, but will it suit a UK audience though?
The standard GL is fitted with 18 alloy wheels, with wheels as large as 21 being available as optional extras. The rear now sports LED lights and a large spoiler, emphasising that this isnt just a mudplugger but a fully-fledged luxury car too.
If you think the standard car is still a bit plain an AMG Exterior Sports package is available featuring massive 21 wheels, front and rear AMG aprons, flared wheel arches, alloy-look running boards, perforated brake discs and Mercedes-branded calliper covers.
The GL is stuffed with an alphabets worth of acronyms, including ESP, ASR, and ABS. More unusual electronic aids include ATTENTION ASSIST (which does pretty much what youd imagine), STEER CONTROL steering assistance system, which helps the driver to steer the heavy SUV in extreme manoeuvres, and Crosswind Assist that helps the driver keep control in the event that heavy side winds are buffeting the vehicle.
In short, you can rest assured that Mercedes has stuffed the GL to the gills with both active and passive safety features – including autonomous braking, just in case the driver isnt paying attention…
The interior is, as you might expect, even bigger than before and swathed in leather, wood, aluminium, and chrome, giving the seven occupants a reassuringly expensive ambience to relax in.
The drivers view is dominated by an imposing dashboard and wide, centrally-mounted infotainment screen. It looks great and should be very easy to use by driver or passenger thanks to metal rotary controller on the centre console. A 360-degree camera system – just like that fitted to the Range Rover – is available too.
A designo Exclusive package is available for those who want to make the interior even more luxurious, comprising soft nappa leather and diamond quilting on the seats and door panels. We dont know how much it will cost, but we bet that itll be a lot.
Efficiency is the name of the game, with both engines using less fuel than the outgoing models: the 3.0-litre V6 GL 350 BlueTEC 4 MATIC diesel will return up to 38 mpg, a 20 percent improvement, while the 4.6-litre GL 500 4MATIC BlueEFFICIENCY V8 petrol model engine uses up to 18 percent less fuel.
Both are pretty fast too, reaching 62mph from standstill in 7.9 seconds for the diesel and 5.9 seconds for the petrol, with top speeds of 136 and 155mph respectively.
The third row of seats can be operated electrically, adding ease of use to the versatility that the folding seats provide. With the seats up seven people can be accommodated, and with them folded there is a massive 2,300 litres of space within.
Price: The price and specification of UK cars will be announced soon.
Available from: Mercedes will only confirm that the new GL will be available early in 2013.
If you can afford one then the Mercedes GL makes a lot of sense. Its fast, reasonably frugal, comfortable, luxurious, and safe. Itll take you to Harrods and the Sahara in the same weekend.
Rivals include the incredible Range Rover
and the Porsche Cayenne
, although neither will seat seven. Which means that it has the market cornered if youre stinking rich and have five children.
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