Mercedes’ “S-class SUV” replaces GL


One of the models to be affected by the recent shuffle in model designation, Mercedes-Benz South Africa has lifted the wraps of its new GL luxury SUV, now badged GLS.

Like the GLA, GLC and GLE whose names denote relations with the A,C and E-classes, the still seven-seat GLS is meant to reflect close ties with Benz’s iconic S-class sedan, with the newcomer debuting with a number of technological firsts, as well as a performance AMG model.

Continuing to be known internally as the X166, the GLS retains the same overall dimensions as the GL, but with exterior changes consisting of a completely redesigned front facia, new taillights, more chrome detailing and a revised tailgate.

Claimed to offer the same levels of standards inside as the sedan it takes its name from, GLS features a completely revised interior with the biggest change being the inclusion of the eight-inch Media Display infotainment and digital instrument cluster displays, modified centre console and a new three-spoke steering wheel.

Along with the standard range of features, the GLS can be specified in three individual trim packages; Exclusive, Night Edition and AMG-Line, which adds bespoke wheels, interior trim and exterior appearance.

In addition, safety has been ramped with items including Collision Prevention Assist Plus, Crosswind Assist and Attention Assist, ESP with Curve Dynamic Assist, cruise control with Speedtronic variable speed limiter and Steer Control Assist, Night Vision, Distronic Plus, Cross-Traffic Assist, Active Blind Spot Assist and Active Lane Keeping Assist.

Available for the first time, the GLS can also be have with Mercedes’ Dynamic Select system with five modes; Comfort, Slippery, Sport, Off-Road and Individual, while those likely to venture much further off the beaten track than a simple gravel road, can still opted for the Off-Road Engineering pack which adds a low range gearbox, centre diff-lock and Airmatc air-suspension that increase ground clearance to a maximum of 306 mm. Wading depth is rated at 600 mm.

The Airmatic system can also be have as option without the off-road hardware, but revised from that used on the GL, as it now boast advanced dampers and an anti-body roll system known as Active Curve System which uses active roll bars to prevent body lean during cornering.

Model-wise, the GLS line-up grows to three variants from the GL’s two, with the option of two forced induction petrol engines and a single turbodiesel.

Again serving as the entry-level model, the GLS 500 makes use of the same 4.7-litre biturbo V8 as the GL, but now with direct injection to lift power from 320 kW to 335 kW with torque remaining unchanged at 700 N.m. As on the GLE, the previous 7G-Tronic box makes way for a 9G-Tronic automatic, with Benz claiming a 0-100 km/h time of 5.3 secs, top speed limited to 250 km/h and fuel consumption of 13.1 L/100 km.

Carried over from the GL, the GLS 350d comes fitted with the stalwart 3.0-litre V6 that churns out 190 kW and 620 N.m of torque. Like the 500, the 9G-Tronic box replaces the 7G with top speed being rated at 222 km/h and 0-100 km/h taking 7.8 secs. Combined fuel consumption is a claimed 8.5 L/100 km.

Slotting in as the new flagship model, the AMG-GLS63 boasts the same 5.5-litre biturbo V8 as the GLE and G-class which makes 430 kW and a colossal 760 N.m of torque.

Unlike its lesser siblings, the 63 sends its grunt through the 7G-Tronic box as the 9G is unable to handle the extra oomph. Top speed continues to be pegged at 250 km/h with standstill to 100 km/h over in 4.6 secs and fuel consumption coming in at 14.8 L/100 km.

A six-year / 100 000 km Maintenance Plan is standard on all models.



GLS 350d 190 kW / 620 N.m R1 283 900
GLS 500 335 kW / 700 N.m R1 444 400
AMG-GLS63 430 kW / 760 N.m R2 469 900