Review

Mercedes GLS-Class SUV

Price  £61,655 - £102,350

Mercedes GLS-Class SUV

reviewed by Carbuyer

Pros
  • Huge amount of space inside
  • Seven seats as standard
  • Very smooth and quiet
Cons
  • Pretty expensive
  • Not very efficient
  • Unexciting to drive

At a glance

The greenest
GLS 350 d 4MATIC designo Line 5dr £78,105
The cheapest
GL 350 BlueTEC AMG Sport 5dr £61,655
The fastest
GLS 63 4MATIC 5dr £102,350
Top of the range
GLS 63 4MATIC 5dr £102,350

"The Mercedes GLS-Class is a spacious and comfortable SUV, but it’s pretty expensive."

The Mercedes GLS-Class (known before its late 2015 facelift as the Mercedes GL-Class) is all about size, space and luxury. It’ll seat seven people in sumptuous comfort with ease, while leaving plenty of room for their luggage, too. In isolation, it's an impressive vehicle, but in comparison with rivals such as the Range Rover, Volvo XC90 and Audi Q7, it doesn’t come off too well.

A very high list price is one problem, along with the fact the the GLS simply isn’t as good to drive as the Audi or the Volvo. That's not as much of an obstacle to success in the Middle East and US (where the bulk of GLS sales are expected) as it is in Europe (where even SUV buyers like their cars to be fun to drive).

For most UK buyers, either the smaller Mercedes GLA-Class, Mercedes GLC-Class or Mercedes GLE-Class is likely to be sufficient – as well as being cheaper to buy and run than the GLS.

There are just two versions of the GLS-Class offered in this country: a relatively efficient GLS 350d diesel and a high-performance Mercedes-AMG GLS 63 that's undeniably fast but will cost an absolute fortune to run. No prizes for guessing which one we’d recommend!

MPG, running costs & CO2

2.1 / 5

Don't expect good fuel economy from this gigantic SUV

The Mercedes GLS-Class is a big, heavy SUV, so you can’t really expect good fuel-economy figures. The GLS 350d diesel model is the most frugal, yet even it only returns 37.2mpg and emits 199g/km of CO2, so road tax is £265 a year. The GLS 63 AMG, which uses a petrol V8 engine, returns just 23mpg and emits 288g/km of CO2, putting it into the highest £505-a-year tax band.

Whether you go for diesel or petrol, Mercedes GLS resale values on the secondhand market aren’t expected to be as strong as rivals such as the Land Rover Discovery and Audi Q7, so there really isn’t much good news on the financial front at all.

Engines, drive & performance

3.2 / 5

Not bad for a huge SUV, but it's better in a straight line than on a twisty back road

Speed merchants will be pleased with the 5.5-litre V8-powered Mercedes-AMG GLS 63, which can sprint from 0-62mph in a frankly alarming 4.6 seconds thanks to its dizzying 580bhp power output. So despite being seemingly larger than some houses, it’s also quicker than many sports cars.

Sadly, it all falls apart in the corners, where the big Mercedes’ huge weight comes into play. You simply can’t throw this car around, but on the plus side, it is extremely quiet and comfortable on the move. The motorway is definitely its natural habitat – not twisty back roads.

That makes the GLS 350d’s 3.0-litre V6 diesel engine much more suited to the model’s character. It’s certainly not as quick as the AMG version, but it’s no slouch, either, with a 255bhp power output ensuring a swift 7.8-second 0-62mph time. It also has lots of that low-down pulling power diesel engines are famed for, so the diesel GLS makes for a superb (albeit pretty expensive) tow car.

Also counting in the diesel’s favour is the fact it comes with Mercedes’ latest nine-speed automatic transmission as standard. The GLS 63 has an older seven-speed gearbox that isn’t quite as smooth and swift through the gears.

Interior & comfort

3.9 / 5

Quiet, solid and relaxing to drive over long distances

If you like cruising serenely down the motorway (or just have to do it on a regular basis), you’ll definitely like the Mercedes GLS. It’s extremely quiet inside, with barely any wind or tyre noise audible. It also comes with air-suspension as standard to iron out bumps and imperfections in the road. However, although those large wheels may look the business, at low speeds they can make the ride less comfortable than it ought to be - especially if the road is potholed or you've got to negotiate some speed bumps.

An electric power-steering system makes the GLS easy to steer and manouvre despite its quite considerable bulk – although you do need to keep its unwieldy dimensions in mind. The high-up driving position and decent all-round visibility help with this.

This car's been around for a while now and, although it never feels poorly-built or like Mercedes has stinted on the cabin materials, it just doesn't feels as special as some other luxury cars out there. In fact, it's beginning to feel a little dated. Mercedes has spruced it up slightly recently, but it's still not really on a par with the best of its rivals like the Volvo XC90, Range Rover or Audi Q7. In fact, it doesn't feel as special as in-house rivals like the Mercedes S-Class saloon. 

Practicality & boot space

4.6 / 5

The GLS-Class is a gigantic car inside and out

The Mercedes GLS is big – very big. It’s longer than the already pretty unwieldy Range Rover, which pays dividends when it comes to boot space. Even with all seven seats in place, you have a 295-litre luggage capacity to work with, while dropping the third row seats ups that to 680 litres.

The second row can also be folded, freeing up a van-like 2,300 litres for expeditions to the furniture store. There are tie-down points for securing smaller loads, but disappointingly the lip is quite high.

Access to third-row seats can be tricky in some seven-seaters, but the GLS deals with this by letting you easily flip the middle second-row seat forward so people can climb in. There’s plenty of storage space for odds and ends, too, primarily in the generously sized door bins and glovebox.

Reliability & safety

4.1 / 5

GLS-Class hasn't been crash-tested, but Mercedes has an impeccable safety record

The Mercedes GLS-Class hasn't been crash-tested by Euro NCAP, so there's no independent verdict on how it'll fair in the event of an accident. It does feature loads of safety equipment, however, including lots of airbags, anti-lock brakes and electronic stability control. Lane-departure warning and automatic braking systems also feature, to help prevent you getting in a crash in the first place.

The GLS’ predecessor, the GL, was a fairly reliable car and the latest model’s engines have been tried and tested in many other cars in the Mercedes range. The brand finished 11th in our Driver Power 2015 customer satisfaction survey's manufacturer ranking, so the ownership experience should be good overall.

Price, value for money & options

2.3 / 5

Incredibly expensive to buy and run - even if standard equipment is good

The Mercedes GLS is very expensive, starting at over £69,000. That’s well north of what you’d pay for entry-level versions of its chief rivals, the Audi Q7 and Volvo XC90 and puts it on a par with the likes of the Range Rover and even luxury saloons like the BMW 7 Series, Jaguar XJ and the Mercedes S-Class.

But standard equipment on the entry-level AMG line trim level is good: you get keyless entry, 21-inch alloys, parking assistance, air-suspension, LED headlights, heated power-adjustable seats, the Mercedes COMAND infotainment and sat-nav system, DAB digital radio, leather upholstery, a panoramic sunroof and a seven-speaker surround-sound stereo system.

The designo line version is considerably more expensive than the AMG line, but it adds Mercedes’ ‘Active Curve System’, which promises to enhance ride comfort, agility and safety at speed and off-road. Also featuring on this trim level is a special interior trim design, temperature-controlled cup-holders, electric blinds, massage seats and a heated steering wheel.

The Mercedes-AMG GLS 63 gets its own design of 21-inch alloys, upgraded brakes, the Active Curve System, an AMG bodykit and AMG trim and lettering in the cabin.

What the others say

3 / 5
based on 1 review
3 / 5
"It's neither as pleasant to sit in nor to drive as the Audi Q7 or Volvo XC90, plus it costs considerably more. Bigger isn’t always better."
Last updated 
3 Dec 2015
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