Mercedes-Benz is on a renaming spree. It now follows the same nomenclature for its SUVs as it uses in the hierarchy of its sedans - you start with the GLA, and go up the order to GLC, GLE and the biggest - GLS. While India is familiar with the rest, the GLC will come in next month. But what we have here is essentially the updated GL-Class with one extra alphabet in its name.
To align the GLS, visually, with the rest of the Mercedes SUVs, it gets some subtle changes at the front and the back. The headlamp design has been changed and there's a new grille. The lower half of the front bumper, too, gets some changes and brushed aluminium has been used generously.
The wheel design sees some changes as well, as do the tail-lamps - they're more modern and funky. Apart from the GLS badge that sits on the tailgate, there's also a 350d sticker, doing away with the earlier CDI nomenclature.
There are a few changes on the inside, too. For starters, there's an updated COMAND system with a touchpad and a rotor - like the one we've seen in the C, S and a few other recently-updated Mercs - which makes life much simpler in terms of navigation, multimedia needs and Bluetooth telephony.
Mercedes now also offers two interior trims - ash wood and brushed aluminium, and there is a wider variety of body paint options, too. The GLS, probably, has the biggest cabin amongst all SUVs out there, with the third row spacious and comfortable enough even for a six-footer.
Mechanically, not much changes and it continues to be powered by a V6 oil-burner. It churns out 620Nm of spin right from 1,600 revs. It's a tested engine, one we've seen in the previous ML- and the current E- and S-Class. It's quiet, with clatter barely audible inside. It offers linear power delivery, though it isn't the most free-revving diesel motor we've seen, and maxes out at 4,200rpm.
Like other modern Mercs, this one, too, gets a nine-speed automatic gearbox. The extra ratios provide flexibility and boost fuel efficiency. On the highway, it'll return 10kpl and in the city, it'll do 8.5km to a litre. It's decently quick considering its size - it does the 0-100kph drill in 8.2 seconds and tops out at 222kph.
The GLS is much easier to drive than the GL. The steering is extremely light, but predictive in the normal mode, and a turn of a knob that sits on the centre console makes it heavier. The 4Matic system sends power to all four wheels, which boosts traction levels. In terms of handling, it'll stick to its line, but with its height and weight, expect major body roll. The ride is good, as you'd expect.
Overall, this update will help the GLS stay in the game. It has a luxurious cabin, drives well and can even do a bit of off-roading. At Rs 80.40 lakh, (ex-showroom, Pune), there aren't many SUVs that can offer the mix of qualities the GLS does.
Specs 2987cc, V6, turbo diesel, 255bhp, 620Nm, 9A, AWD; 0-100kph\: 8.2s, 30-50kph\: 2.6s, 50-70kph\: 2.0s, 80-0kph\: 24.8m/ 2.6s, Top speed\: 222kph, city kpl\: 8.5, highway kpl\: 10; Price\: Rs 80.40 lakh (ex-showroom, Pune).
Verdict Big, capable SUV that's got presence and nice driving dynamics