What is it like on the inside?
The GLE and GLB may also have seven seats, but the GLS is the only Mercedes SUV that can comfortably accommodate seven adults. Mercedes rates the rearmost two seats for adults up to 1.94 metres tall (provided the second-row is slid as far forwards as it’ll go), which is very tall indeed. Said seats can also be heated, and benefit from their own climate controls and zone. Getting into them is pretty straightforward, too - all the seats move about electrically, but they take their sweet time.
A clever microphone setup pipes the driver’s voice through the rear speakers and the rear passengers’ through the fronts, so you can have a conversation without having to shout. Don’t tell your kids about it, though, because once they find the microphones there’s no knowing what they may do.
American GLSs get six-seats as standard, because apparently they like being able to effectively walk between rows two and three. British cars will get a more conventional seven-seat setup. Space is ample in any of the three rows, however you’ve configured the seats. Screens and electrically-operated massage seats with pillowy headrests are available, and do a decent job of making you think you’re in a taller, more airy S-Class. But we can’t help but think if this thing is really trying to be the “S-Class of SUVs”, it should be plusher still. We know there's a posher GLS coming, mind...
The dashboard is basically the same as the GLE’s, meaning it’s dominated by two vast screens - one for the driver’s instrumentation, the other for controlling the new MBUX infotainment system, which arrived last year with the A-Class and has since made its way into bigger cars like the GLE and S.
On first meeting the software, and all the various means of controlling it, can feel a bit daunting. Two touch pads on the wheel control left- and right-side screens respectively, The central screen is also touch sensitive, or can be controlled with another touchpad on the centre console, where you used to find a click-wheel.
Get it set up the way you want it, though, and it’s great - superb quality graphics and an attractive UI, and clever voice control that actually works a treat. Unless, I’m told, you have a particularly thick regional accent. In America it’s nearing Siri levels of cleverness, in that it can answer general knowledge questions like “who’s the President of the US?”, convert between units and so-on. Pity UK cars can’t do that just yet.
The vast majority of the switchgear and materials feel on-point, though perhaps not quite as nice as the ones you get in an actual S-Class. As ever, the more you spend, the better it gets, with fancier leathers, better headlining and posher trim.
USB ports aplenty will keep the kids happy, but remember your adapters because they’re all of the little USB-C variety.