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LA show: Mercedes-Benz GLS unveiled

Top shelf: Mercedes sees the GLS as the big-wheel equivalent of its S-Class fleet and an AMG version is expected to lob in 2017.

Mercedes-Benz’s updated GLS SUV range breaks cover ahead of LA show reveal

5 Nov 2015

MERCEDES-BENZ has revealed specifications and images of its updated and renamed GL-Class SUV range, now known as the GLS, that brings a comprehensive makeover under modest sheet metal changes.

The basic range will comprise the GLS350d, GLS400 and GLS500 variants, all with nine-speed automatic transmissions as standard, along with a revised version of Merc’s air-sprung suspension system and new assistance and telematics systems.

A range-topping AMG variant will also be produced.

Mercedes-Benz Australia/Pacific public relations and product communications manager Jerry Stamoulis said the new range will be similar to the existing four-variant line-up.

“We’ll announce pricing and specifications early next year, ahead of a May 2016 launch,” he said.

“The spec levels will be similar to what you see in today’s GL range.”

Mr Stamoulis added that the company expects to to see a similar uptake from customers that it has experienced with the GL, which has sold 600 to the end of October, some 260 units ahead of the Range Rover which holds second place in the upper-large SUV category.

“We’ll aim to continue to hold segment leadership,” he said.

Kicking off the range is the 350d, with its 3.0-litre V6 turbo-diesel now making 190kW and 620Nm of torque. A twin-turbo 3.0-litre six-potter powers the GLS400, making 245kW and 480Nm, while a twin-turbo V8 petrol engine can be found under the bonnet of the GLS500. It now makes 335kW (15kW over the GL) and 700Nm of torque.

The AMG GLS 63, meanwhile, retains its seven-speed automatic, and boasts 430kW and 760Nm – the highest performance figures for any of Mercedes-AMG’s SUV range.

Mr Stamoulis confirmed that MBAP would take the hot rod AMG variant, but was unable to confirm whether the 400 – not currently sold here in GL-Class form – would make it to Australia.

The GLS has undergone minor reconstructive surgery front and rear, with new headlights, refreshed grille and new lower bar treatment up front, while new tail-lights and a minor tweak of the bar make up the rear changes.

The seven-seat interior, too, has been updated, with a new steering wheel fitted with shift paddles, a revised instrument panel, new centre console with the protruding media display and a small touchpad between the front seats.

Cargo space is 680 litres with all seven seats in place, and 2300 litres with the seats folded down. Payload capacity is 815kg, while the cargo area can accept loads more than 2.1 metres long.

Mercedes calls the GLS its ‘S-Class of SUVs’, so the standard level of kit is accordingly high.

Driver assistance systems fitted as standard include collision prevention assist plus, crosswind assist and attention assist, pre-safe system, brake assist, electronic all-wheel drive, torque vectoring, cruise control and steering assist function steer control.

An optional driver assistance package offers Distronic plus with stop&go pilot, pre-safe brake with pedestrian detection, cross-traffic detection, active blind spot assist and active lane keeping.

Merc has equipped the GLS with additional driver modes in its Dynamic Select system, too 'individual' and 'off-road' modes join 'comfort', 'slippery' and 'sport'.

An additional mode – 'off-road plus' – can be accessed if the customer opts for the Off-Road Engineering package, which allows the air suspension to lift to a maximum of 306mm, raises the fording depth to 600mm and adds a low-range gearbox and centre diff to the transmission.

An active anti-roll bar system is also available as an option.

Safety-wise, Merc adds adaptive two-stage airbags for the driver and front passenger, knee airbags for the driver and front passenger (combined thorax/pelvis bags) and window bags above all three seat rows to the passive and active safety systems already on board.

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