Mercedes-Benz’s biggest SUV, the GL, has been given a facelift and in the process a new name too. Now called the GLS-Class, the new name reinforces its place at the top of the Mercedes SUV range. The styling has also been updated to the brand’s current design theme.
Changes are more apparent up front with a rounder grille and redesigned headlights. The front bumpers have also been revised. At the rear there are restyled taillights though you’d have to be very eagle-eyed to spot the difference.
Those expecting an interior mirroring that of the S-Class sedan will be disappointed. The GLS receives an interior closely resembling the GLE-Class. The notable changes include the ‘floating’ display from the COMAND system as well as a new touchpad interface as seen in other Mercedes models.
Engines are carried over from the outgoing GL, meaning there’ll be a choice of petrol and diesel engines. The range kicks off with the GLE350d (previously known as the GL350 Bluetech) with a turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 developing 190kW and 620NM of torque.
For those of the petrol persuasion, the GLS500 retains the 4.7-litre twin-turbo V8. Power is up by 15kW to 335kW and torque remains at 700NM. There is also talk of a GLS500e variant pairing the GLS400’s V6 petrol with an 85kW electric motor.
If those numbers are too small for you, or if you just want to annoy environmentalists, then the GLS63 AMG might just be for you. With AMG’s famed 5.5-litre bi-turbo V8, it’ll develop 557bhp and 561lb of torque. Mercedes hasn’t revealed its 0-100 km/h time but it’ll be in a ridiculous amount of time.
All GLS-Class, except for the 63 AMG, will be equipped with Mercedes’ new 9-speed automatic transmission. The GLS also gets an ‘Off-Road Engineering’ pack which brings in a low-range transmission and a locking centre diff. The pack also boosts ground clearance to 306mm and gives a wading depth of 600mm. Because you know, soccer mums are really going to take this off-roading.
The new name now completes Mercedes’ new naming structure for its SUV lineup, each one now named closely to a sedan counterpart; the GLA (A-Class), GLC (C-Class), GLE (E-Class), and GLS (S-Class). The S-Class connection also makes the rumours of a Maybach version of the GLS even more possible. But I still think GLS and GLE sound like trim levels on a 1990s Toyota Corolla.
The Mercedes GLS should land on our shores by winter next year, just in time for the ski season. A perfect opportunity to test that 306mm ground clearance and locking centre diff.