New Mercedes GLS 2019: prices, specs and release date

All-new version of seven-seat Mercedes SUV set for 2019

Mercedes is almost ready to reveal the next generation of its GLS SUV, and prototypes have been spotted in the fierce desert heat of Death Valley, USA, ahead of entering production in time for launch in 2019.

The Mercedes GLS is the top SUV offering from the brand with the three-pointed star badge. It sits above the Mercedes GLE, Mercedes GLC and Mercedes GLA. It's a match for the Range Rover and forthcoming BMW X7 in size, and top-spec models will likely match the Bentley Bentayga on price.

As befits a flagship model, the next GLS will offer Mercedes' most powerful engines and at least one Mercedes-AMG variant is likely to join the range. Also rumoured is a super-luxury Maybach version along similar lines to the Mercedes-Maybach S-Class.

2019 Mercedes GLS design

These spy shots reveal that, while not representing any great stylistic departure for the marque, the 2019 GLS will be more elegant and restrained than its bulky, angular predecessor. Mercedes engineers are giving little away – the monochrome 'dazzle' camouflage applied to this prototype is comprehensive and padding has also been used to further disguise the car's contours.

A keen eye, though, can make out curvature in the doors, hinting that the GLS will echo the sculptural form of the Mercedes S-Class saloon. The front grille is particularly eye-catching, and appears to be undisguised, although the production car is expected to gain a bright chrome or metallic finish on its expressive horizontal elements. The shape of the headlights can be made out – they're narrow and wrap around the front corners of the car, appear to be horizontally split and are not physically linked to the grille.

A serious-looking shield panel, prominent below the front grille, hints that the GLS will be geared up for off-road use, and it's likely that the partially disguised intakes on each side will be key to the identity of an expected Mercedes-AMG GLS 63 version.

Beneath the surface lurks a development of Mercedes' MHA ('Modular High Architecture') platform, which promises lower weight and greater fuel-efficiency than before, as well a boost in interior space thanks to a lower rear floor – the third row of seats should be far more accommodating than those is today's GLS. Our images show that Mercedes' twin-screen infotainment and control system is in place, bringing a similarly hi-tech feel as that enjoyed by Mercedes S-Class owners.

Engines and availability

The latest platform also opens the GLS to electrified power for the first time. The Mercedes S-Class saloon already makes use of a 48v electrical system to support its latest petrol engines, allowing for extended engine stop-start operation to improve fuel economy and reduce CO2 emissions. The GLS is likely to follow suit, and a plug-in hybrid version is also on the cards, using the brand's EQ technology.

There's no official word on engines yet from Mercedes, but the GLS is expected to offer a similar choice of diesels and petrols as the S-Class and GLE SUV. V8-powered Mercedes-AMG versions are expected to follow, too.

Prices for the Mercedes GLS are expected to be released closer to its 2019 launch, but we expected a modest increase compared to today's model, which starts at just over £73,000.

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