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The Top Gear car review: Mercedes-Benz GL-Class
For:Even bigger than before, much more sophisticated than before
Against:Is it simply too big for the UK?
GL350 CDI BlueEFFICIENCY 5dr Tip Auto
Gigantic and luxurious, but feels decidedly… American
There’s a contradiction here. The Mercedes GL is a vast, costly and showy thing; the sort of car that attracts equal measures of envy and...
What we say:
New version of Merc's most massive SUV: is it now ready to topple the Range Rover?
What is it?
This all-new big beast of a seven-seat SUV is the best-selling luxury 4x4 of all in the US. Yes, it even outpoints the Range Rover, plus all the big SUV iron Detroit churns out in such vast numbers. Why have 180,000 been sold since its launch in 2006? Because it’s a Benz, seats seven and, well, is very big. Size matters, it seems.
So although downsizing is all the rage these days, it’s a concept that’s bypassed the latest GL entirely. At least it’s more elegant than before, with the unusual styling approach seen on the latest ML appearing a bit more cohesive and, dare we say it, subtle here. Remember this next time one’s bearing down on you.
Bearing down, you say? Surely that would be fanciful, given the sensible-shoes diesels we’re likely to get here in the UK? Well, you’d think so. But while Britain will get a fine 258bhp 3.0-litre V6 diesel (with smooth-running manners and a huge amount of torque), it will also get a 557bhp GL 63 AMG, that can hit 60 in under five seconds. How’s that for sheer contrast? Frankly terrifying pace for something approaching 3 tons.
Not that it corners with such nostril-flaring intensity. The emphasis here is very much on comfort. Even with the active chassis switched to Sport, it remains a big, wafty bus of a car, isolating you from the road beneath rather than pressing your face into it. Don’t worry, it doesn’t topple over at the sight of a corner, but it hardly attacks them with relish. Enjoy instead the way it brilliantly soaks up bumps and keeps you distant front the worst South London can throw at you.
On the inside
Need we tell you it’s very, very big inside? For all three rows of passengers too – all of whom will be able to converse easily as it’s also very, very quiet inside. It has standard acoustic front windows, sprayable acoustic materials, even optimised aero-acoustics
It’s every bit as hushed as an S-Class. It’s every bit as opulent too, thanks to details such as a giant three-part sunroof, rich trims and materials, Mercedes’ full arsenal of technical hardware and some of the best (and biggest) seats around. Mercedes will also sell you a brace of infotainment gadgets so everyone is kept entertained. Yes, the GL is a surprisingly adept MPV…
Prices are, you won’t be surprised to discover, on the high side: they start at just over £59k. The options list can see you spend the price of a decent A-Class with ease. At least it’s greener than before, with the GL 350 CDI doing 35mpg. No wonder all but a handful of Brits will chose it: just the antidote for those who need more seats than a Range Rover can provide.