Everything you need to know about the new Mercedes GLS

Think of the GLS as an S-Class that can duke it with the best off-roaders out there

25 April 2019 - 10:53 By Phuti Mpyane
Seven-seat Benz hulk goes head-to-head with recently-launched new BMW X7. Picture: Supplied
Seven-seat Benz hulk goes head-to-head with recently-launched new BMW X7. Picture: Supplied

The all-new Mercedes-Benz GLS, the biggest SUV the carmaker sells, has debuted at the 2019 New York Auto Show.

If you previously had reservations about its gargantuan dimensions, it has grown even larger now, measuring 77mm longer and 22mm wider than its predecessor. Falling in line with the current Mercedes-Benz SUV corporate look that debuted with the recently launched GLE-Class, the front section of the new GLS features a prominent, chrome-plated under guard in the front apron, a bonnet with two power domes as well as distinctive headlamps underscored by multi beams with a total of 112 LEDs per headlamp.

Mercedes-Benz says the large SUV achieves cd (coefficient of drag) figures as low as 0.32 as opposed to cd 0.35 accomplished by its predecessor. The better aerodynamics help reduce fuel consumption and reduce wind noise, one of the areas on which development work focused specifically through numerous computation loops, CAE (computer-aided engineering) simulations and measurements in the wind tunnel.

The company highlights better interior space, especially in the second row of the cabin, which boasts full electrically adjustable seats. The second and third row can be lowered into the floor to increase the boot space up to 2,400l.

Further enhancements and additions to the new hulk include E-Active Body Control active suspension, a more advanced MBUX interface now with rear seat entertainment controlled through a pair of 30cm touchscreens and separate tablets added for remote control.

One of the interior highlights is the new MBUX system which can be operated via a tablet. Picture: Supplied
One of the interior highlights is the new MBUX system which can be operated via a tablet. Picture: Supplied

Five-zone automatic climate control is available as is hand-gesture operation in conjunction with voice control, a next-generation full-colour Head‑up Display, a wireless-charging compartment for smartphones, and additional USB ports. A Rear Comfort package Plus, which includes a 18cm Android tablet in its own docking station in the second row’s centre armrest, can be ordered.

It’s even possible to order luxury seats with lumbar massage function and climate control as an additional option for the Rear Comfort package Plus in the second row.

The new MBUX Rear Seat Entertainment System is available for all seating with two 29cm touchscreens that allow passengers in the second row to enjoy movies or music, use the integrated web browser, or call up and input trip information.

Each screen displays the content selected by the individual user. In addition users can also play their own media from a cellphone, tablet or laptop. If the GLS is equipped with the optional MBUX rear tablet, this can also be used to control the Rear Seat Entertainment System which allows control of all the MBUX comfort and entertainment functions from the rear rows.

A new Carwash function enables the car to be prepared for entry into a car wash with a press of a button. This results in the raising of the suspension to give better access into muddy underside crevices, the folding of exterior mirrors, closure of any open windows or sunroof, and suppresses rain sensor wipers to remain switched off during the car wash.

The system deactivates these settings automatically when the driver drives out of the car wash and accelerates to a speed above 20 km/h.

Powertrain-wise, there will be a GLS 580 4MATIC, a new, electrified V8 petrol engine with a 48-volt on-board electrical system and integrated starter-generator. It has outputs of 360kW and 700Nm.

The GLS 450 4MATIC uses a six-cylinder inline engine with 270kW and 500Nm with a further 250Nm of torque and 16kW available via EQ Boost over short periods.

Two diesels are on offer. These are the GLS 350 d 4MATIC with 210kW and 600Nm and a GLS 400 d 4MATIC with 243kW and 700Nm on tap.

In all variants power is transmitted to all wheels by the 9G-TRONIC automatic transmission with a reduction gear for off-road driving.

Onroad driving assistance systems include Active Distance Assist DISTRONIC, Live Traffic updates, Active Stop-and-Go Assist and Trailer Manoeuvring Assist.

It is available with E-Active Body Control, the latest-generation air suspension that adapts to the prevailing conditions of the road. It also gets the Curve function first introduced in the S-Class Coupe,  where the vehicle leans into bends in a similar way to motorcyclists or skiers.

According to Yolanda Oduntan of Mercedes-Benz SA, we can expect the new Mercedes GLS in the country during the fourth quarter of 2019. Prices and engine derivatives will be communicated closer to the launch date.

Also available as an option is a transfer case with low range configured for off-road driving. Picture: Supplied
Also available as an option is a transfer case with low range configured for off-road driving. Picture: Supplied
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