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New and uprated engines for Mercedes GL-class

GL350: Big Benz benefits from a revised engine line-up.

New engines for GL-class to help Mercedes-Benz SUV range before new ML in '12

15 Mar 2011

MERCEDES-BENZ is hoping to lift its game in the face of Audi’s top-selling Q5 and BMW’s all-new X3 in the luxury SUV category by introducing upgraded V6 diesel and new V8 diesel-powered versions of its big GL-class in the run up to its redesigned M-class next year.

The company will expand its luxury seven-seat SUV model range with the addition of the new turbo-diesel V8-powered GL450 CDI and an uprated version of the six-cylinder GL350 CDI diesel, both of which will join the 5.5-litre petrol V8-powered GL500 in the existing GL-class line-up at the end of this month.

Pricing obtained by GoAuto confirms the petrol GL500 will retain its position at the top of the GL tree (but increases by $1900 to $173,200), while both the standard and Luxury versions of the entry-level GL350 CDI diesel increase by about $1900, to a respective $119,270 and $131,490.

Available only in Luxury specification, the new 2011 GL450 CDI arrives at $169,800 – just under the MY10 GL500’s $171,300 sticker price and $3400 below the MY11 GL500 flagship.

The GL450 CDI employs a 4.0-litre diesel V8 that produces 225kW at 3600rpm and 700Nm between 2000 and 2600rpm. In the GL it returns fuel consumption of 11.6L/100km on the EU combined cycle and emits 307 to 313g/km of CO2.

Australia’s first V8 diesel GL will not be offered here with the NOx emissions-reducing ‘BlueTec’ technology that recently debuted on the born-again G350 BlueTec off-roader in Australia, even though the GL450 is available with BlueTec in Europe.

4 center imageLeft: Mercedes-Benz M-class.

The GL wagon range is available in both five-seat and optional seven-seat configurations because its large overall dimensions allow for third-row seats that are among the few to offer accommodation for adult-size passengers.

As a luxury seven-seat SUV it has few rivals, with Land Rover’s Discovery 4 and Audi’s Q7 being the only two similar vehicles. The Discovery 4 does not have a V8 diesel option and the Q7 gives away some off-road ability by lacking low-range gearing.

The addition of the GL450 CDI to the range will give Benz a competitor against Audi’s V8-powered Q7 4.2 TDI diesel, which is priced at $127,814, as well as – perhaps – the range-topping 12-cylinder diesel-powered Q7 6.0 TDI ($254,814).

The Q7’s four-model range outsold the two-model GL-Glass 1142 to 347 units in 2010, according to VFACTS figures.

The volume-selling GL variant will remain the entry-level GL350 CDI and its V6 turbo-diesel engine gets a considerable boost in performance with figures up from 165kW and 510Nm to 195kW and 620Nm.

This is a new variant of the 3.0-litre engine that recently debuted in the new S-class limousine and not only improves the SUV’s performance but reduces fuel consumption in the GL350 to 8.9L/100km (EU combined). The previous GL350 CDI returned 9.6L/100km on the ADR combined cycle.

All three 2011 GL models will be backed by the 7G-Tronic seven-speed automatic transmission and will ride on independent height-adjustable air suspension.

All grades will be well appointed, too, with the GL350 CDI having standard features like a reversing camera, power panoramic roof, 19-inch alloy wheels, Comand APS audio system, powered front seats, man-made leather upholstery, an off-road pack including locking rear and centre differentials and a low-range transfer case, and electronic stability/traction control.

The Luxury package adds memory for the seats, leather upholstery, rear climate-control, 20-inch alloys, a powered tailgate, bi-Xenon headlights and auto-dimming rearview mirrors.

The GL500 Luxury goes further, adding radar-based Distronic cruise control, a ‘Logic 7’ audio system, Neck-Pro front head restraints, ‘Contour’ front seats, heated front and second-row seats, Nappa leather upholstery, 21-inch alloys and V8-specific exterior front-end styling. The GL450 CDI Luxury will share the petrol V8’s unique front-end design.

The smaller M-class SUV continues unchanged for 2011 before an all new ML debuts at the Frankfurt motor show in September and arrives here in the first half of 2012, but that has not stopped Mercedes-Benz applying price rises across the range.

The entry-level ML300 CDI diesel is now $1020 more expensive at $85,780, while the ML350 petrol is $1055 pricier at $89,365 and the ML350 CDI diesel – which runs a higher-output version of the ML300’s 3.0-litre diesel V6 – is $1085 less affordable at $92,425.

Rounding out the MY11 M-class range are two petrol V8s in the ML500 Luxury ($133,895 – up $1495) and the bahn-storming ML63 AMG, which now costs $175,815 – up $1915.

The M-class last year played second-fiddle to BMW’s dominant X5 in the luxury SUV stakes despite experiencing a 48 per cent sales lift, but so far in the final year of its model life has proved less popular than the Q5, X5, Q7, BMW X1 and Range Rover Sport.

In fact, the new ML can’t come soon enough for Mercedes-Benz, which last year sold 2589 examples of its smallest SUV compared to the X5’s class-leading 3105.

In the absence of a right-hand drive version of its compact GLK until at least the next generation in three years, Mercedes’ ML and GL will face stiff competition from the popular Q5 and this month’s larger second-generation BMW X3, which continue to erode sales of full-size luxury SUVs.

2011 Mercedes-Benz GL-class pricing:
GL350 CDI (a) $119,270
GL350 CDI Luxury (a) $131,490
GL450 CDI Luxury (a) $169,800
GL500 Luxury (a) $173,200
2011 Mercedes-Benz ML-class pricing
3.0 300 CDI (a) $85,780
3.5 350 (a) $89,365
3.0 350 CDI (a) $92,425
5.5 500 Luxury (a) $133,895
6.3 63 AMG (a) $175,815

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