The S-Class of SUVs

Jun 24, 2019
Stuttgart/Salt Lake City

Stuttgart/Salt Lake City.  The new Mercedes-Benz GLS is Mercedes-Benz's largest and most luxurious SUV and offers more of everything: more space, more comfort, more luxury. The confident presence of its exterior stems from its impressive dimensions, which are even larger than those of its predecessor (length +77 mm, width +22 mm). One of the benefits of 60 mm more wheelbase is interior spaciousness, especially in the second row. The three fully electrically adjustable seat rows offer all passengers a generous amount of space and seating comfort. The seats in the third row can be lowered into the floor electrically to increase the boot space (up to 2400 litres), while the seats in the second row fold flat. Furthermore, a six-seater variant with two luxury individual rear seats in the second seat row is available for the first time. Celebrating its world première in the GLS 580 4MATIC (combined fuel consumption: 10.1-9.8 l/100 km; combined CO2 emissions: 230‑2 23 g/km)[1] is an electrified V8 engine featuring EQ Boost, a 48-volt system with integrated starter-generator. Prices for the new GLS start at 85,923.50 euros[2].

The E-ACTIVE BODY CONTROL active suspension on 48-volt basis offers outstanding suspension comfort, agile handling and a high degree of off-road capability. Like the GLE, the GLS features the latest generation of Mercedes-Benz driving assistance systems giving cooperative support to the driver. The new 4MATIC ensures great agility on the road and strong performance off the beaten track. The new GLS has impressive aerodynamics in its segment, with a Cd figure of 0.32. It has a new carwash function, which makes it possible to prepare the car to enter a carwash at a single touch of a button. 

As the S-Class of SUVs, the new GLS indulges its passengers, especially those in the rear. The key comfort features at a glance:

  • MBUX Rear-Seat Entertainment System: Two 11.6-inch touchscreens for movies, music and internet enjoyment
  • Rear Comfort Package Plus: Separate tablet for controlling all MBUX comfort and entertainment functions from the rear. The tablet is integrated into a luxury centre armrest. Further components of the package: expanded centre console between the front seats and luxury head restraints with adjustable side bolsters
  • Electrically adjustable seats throughout as standard, as is the
    EASY-ENTRY function, which makes it easy to get into and out of the third seat row
  • Simple folding of all rear seats at the touch of a button
  • Choice of three-seat bench or two luxury individual seats with armrests in the second row
  • Two fully fledged seats in the third row (for people up to 1.94 m tall)
  • Heated seats and separate USB charging ports also for the third row
  • Five-zone automatic climate control available.

"The GLS combines modern luxury with the character of an off-roader," says Gorden Wagener, Chief Design Officer at Daimler AG. "Powerful highlights of the off-road design idiom combine with an elegance reminiscent of a classic luxury saloon. The interior is a synthesis of modern, luxurious aesthetics, hallmark SUV practicality, and digital high-tech. In our view, the new GLS therefore offers the best of all these worlds."

Since 1997, when the M-Class was launched, Mercedes-Benz has been building premium SUVs in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA. The US are also the largest market for the model series, which experiences rapidly growing success in China as well. The GL full-size variant offering space for seven people was launched in 2006. In 2015, a model update emphasised the luxury character of the large SUV's second generation and also heralded the changing of the name to GLS. On top of that, it is the market leader in the US in its segment - just like the S-Class saloon. Since its market launch in 2006, more than 550,000 units of the full-size SUV (GL/GLS) have been sold.

Exterior design: luxurious, large, impressive

The design of the new GLS expresses modern luxury both on and off the road. Its superior presence is based on stately dimensions (length 5207 mm, width 1956 mm), which compared with the predecessor grew particularly in wheelbase (+60 mm) to now 3135 mm. This stretches the vehicle favourably and gives it harmonious proportions, emphasised by the understated, elegant side design. The Mercedes-Benz GLS follows the design strategy of sensual purity, and dispenses with individual edges and beading in favour of generously sculptured surfaces. The nearly vertical windscreen and the generous continuous glass surface at the sides characterise it as a classic large full-size SUV.

The wheels in the AMG Line with a diameter of up to 23 inches are a première for Mercedes‑Benz. They blend in harmoniously and signal off-road competence, as does the front with the nearly upright radiator grille in octagonal SUV interpretation, the prominent chromed skid plate and the bonnet with two power domes. The striking appearance and the high technical standard are boosted by MULTIBEAM LED headlamps (standard or optional equipment depending on the market) with a total of 112 LEDs per headlamp. These produce the maximum light intensity permitted by law – the brightness of the main beams does not fall below the reference value of 1 lux for a distance of more than 650 metres. The daytime running lights with three LED segments underline the status of the GLS as the S-Class of SUVs.

Aerodynamics: exquisite fine-tuning

The new GLS achieves cd figures as low as 0.32 - a clear improvement compared with its predecessor (cd 0.35) and an impressively low figure in the large luxury SUV segment. The excellent aerodynamics help to firstly reduce fuel consumption and secondly limit wind noise, one of the areas on which development work focussed specifically.

Special attention was paid to the underbody and the air flowing through the engine compartment. Not least because the hallmark SUV shape, with its upright front end and high ground clearance, makes these areas susceptible to low-frequency airflow noise. A host of details was optimised with numerous computation loops, CAE simulations (computer-aided engineering) and measurements in the wind tunnel in Sindelfingen.

Interior design: luxuriously elegant and powerfully progressive

The interior of the new GLS is all about luxuriously elegant aesthetics and features leather appointments as standard. It combines the comfort of a Mercedes-Benz luxury saloon with the robustly progressive detailing of an SUV. The central element in the dashboard's design is an impressively sized screen unit embedded in a distinctive dashboard support.

The large touchscreen of the MBUX infotainment system allows all the GLS comfort features to be controlled from the driver's seat. The prominently wide raised centre console creates a robust contrast with the free-floating appearance of the dashboard.

Interior: generous amount of space, three electrified seat rows

The new GLS has a considerably longer wheelbase than its predecessor (3135 mm, an increase of 60 mm). This creates more space, especially in the second seat row, which can furthermore be electrically adjusted fore and aft by 10 cm. Legroom there is increased by 87 mm when the seats are in their rearmost position. All seats are electrically adjustable as standard. The same applies to the EASY-ENTRY function, which makes it easy to get into and out of the two individual seats in the third row. For this, the seats in the second row move a long way forwards and fold forwards. The seats in the third row are fully fledged seats that are suitable for people up to 1.94 m tall and are heated for the first time.

As standard for the European market, the second row has a 60:40-split folding rear bench seat with adjustable 40:20:40-split backrests. Alternatively it is possible to order the American standard configuration with two luxury individual rear seats with armrests, between which it is possible to access the rearmost seats with ease. All rear seats can be folded separately or at the same time at a single touch of a button to create a level loading area in the boot of the GLS with a capacity of up to 2400 litres. The automatic lowering of the rear end by about 50 mm (thanks to the standard-fit air suspension) allows loading and unloading the boot comfortably.

Even more comfort in the rear: MBUX served on a tablet

Luxury in the new GLS is shared generously among all passengers, particularly if the Rear Comfort Package Plus is ordered. It includes a 7-inch Android tablet in its own docking station in the second row's larger luxury centre armrest. The tablet allows control of all the MBUX comfort and entertainment functions (see next section) from the rear seat rows, such as access to radio, TV, media, phone and web browser. It can also be used to control the Rear Seat Comfort package and the five-zone automatic climate control for the rear seats.

As an additional option for the second row, luxury seats with lumbar massage function and climate control can be added to the Rear Comfort Package Plus.

The MBUX Rear Seat Entertainment System is available for all seating variants. It includes two 11.6-inch touchscreens that allow passengers in the second row to enjoy movies or music, use the integrated web browser, or call up and input trip information. And, of course, a host of USB ports numbering up to eleven depending on the equipment level and the WLAN of the vehicle also allows integrating the mobile devices of the passengers. It equally goes without saying that the driver can take control of all options and features from his or her seat at any time.

The optional MBUX Interior Assistant also enables the driver and front passenger to operate various comfort and MBUX functions intuitively by movement recognition. A camera in the overhead console registers movements of the driver's and front passenger's hands and arms. When a hand approaches the touchscreen or the touchpad on the centre console, the presentation of information on the media display alters. The system is able to distinguish the driver's hand from that of the front passenger, and therefore knows for whose seat the massage function is to be activated, for example.

In addition there are functions that can be controlled by simple hand gestures: the reading lamp can be switched on and off by extending a hand towards the interior mirror, for example. Furthermore, the driver and front passenger can each store personal favourite functions, e.g. "navigate home" or "call office".

Power with EQ Boost: choice of six or eight cylinders

The high standards of the new Mercedes-Benz GLS are likewise clearly apparent in its engine line-up. Powerful six and eight-cylinder engines deliver the harmonious motoring comfort and the effortless power that suit the characteristics of this luxurious car.

The introduction of the GLS 580 4MATIC marks the world première of a new electrified V8 petrol engine with 48-volt on-board electrical system and integrated starter-generator. This engine has a displacement of about four litres and produces an output of 360 kW (489 hp) and 700 Nm of torque, with another 250 Nm of torque and 16 kW/22 hp of additional output temporarily on tap via EQ Boost.

The straight-six petrol engine with EQ Boost of the GLS 450 4MATIC is electrified in the same way. It is available exclusively outside of Western Europe. The integrated starter-generator (ISG) is responsible for hybrid functions such as boosting, sailing or energy recovery and makes fuel savings possible that were previously reserved for high-voltage hybrid technology.

Diesel: six-cylinder engine for Europe, Russia and other markets

The two GLS models powered by the OM 656 diesel engine are slated to be available at the market launch in Western Europe. The straight-six engine is available in two output levels, as the GLS 350 d 4MATIC with 210 kW (286 hp) and 600 Nm (combined fuel consumption: 7.9-7.6 l/100 km; combined CO2 emissions: 208-200 g/km)[3] and as the GLS 400 d 4MATIC with 243 kW (330 hp) and 700 Nm of torque (combined fuel consumption: 7.9-7.6 l/100 km; combined CO2 emissions: 208-201 g/km)1. In both versions, the powerful engine already complies with the Euro 6d- standard (RDE/Real Driving Emissions Step 2), which does not come into force until 1 January 2020 for new models and one year later for all vehicles, even in demanding driving conditions.

4MATIC all-wheel drive: agile on the road, superior when off-road

In all variants of the new GLS, power is transmitted by the 9G-TRONIC automatic transmission. The broad ratio spread of gears one to nine allows a clearly perceptible reduction in engine speed and is a decisive factor behind the high level of energy efficiency and ride comfort. A transfer case with electronically controlled multi-plate clutch is likewise fitted as standard. This allows a variable transfer of drive torque from 0-100 percent (torque on demand) between the axles.

Available as an option is a transfer case specially designed for superior off-road driving characteristics. In addition to the controlled multi-plate clutch with torque-on-demand function, it also features a reduction gear for off-road driving. In concert with the capabilities of the E-ACTIVE BODY CONTROL suspension optimised for off-road use, the new GLS reaches a superior level of off-road capability.

Driving assistance systems: even better support

The new GLS is equipped with the latest generation of Mercedes-Benz driving assistance systems giving cooperative support to drivers. These systems further enhance the level of active safety.

When Active Distance Assist DISTRONIC with route-based speed adaptation is activated, the new GLS is able to recognise and respond to tailbacks or slow-moving traffic with the help of information from Live Traffic before the driver becomes aware of this traffic hazard. When a traffic jam is detected on the motorway (and if the driver does not choose a different response), for example, DISTRONIC reduces the speed to around 100 km/h as a precaution.

New feature of Driving Assistance package Plus: When actually driving in a tailback on the motorway, Active Stop-and-Go Assist is largely able to perform the tasks of keeping in lane and maintaining the safety distance with a high level of availability at speeds up to around 60 km/h. It can also start again automatically for up to one minute after coming to a stop and even help with creating an emergency lane. Once the tailback clears, the GLS accelerates back up to the speed preset for Active Distance Assist DISTRONIC with route-based speed adaptation.

The turning manoeuvre function of Active Brake Assist also is new: If there is a danger of a collision with oncoming traffic when making a turn across a carriageway, the GLS can be braked at the speeds typical of such manoeuvres.

Trailer Manoeuvring Assist is available as an option for the GLS in Europe. This makes reverse manoeuvring easier for drivers who are not so familiar with towing trailers. And it is also of benefit to more experienced drivers when towing longer trailers.

Suspension: AIRMATIC air suspension as standard

The GLS is equipped with the further advanced AIRMATIC air suspension system with ADS PLUS adaptive damping system as standard (option in USA/Canada). This set-up uses highly complex sensor systems and algorithms to adapt the damping characteristics to the road condition and driving situation in real time.

All components have been enhanced compared with the previous generation, and the wheel suspension mountings have been optimised to maximise ride comfort. In addition to this, the air suspension keeps the car at the same level, regardless of the load on board.

New feature - neat and clean: the carwash function

One new, standard feature is the carwash function - which comes in very handy, especially for a large vehicle like the GLS. When this function is selected, the suspension moves to the highest position, which reduces the track widths due to the axle geometry and ensures that possible dirt in the wheel wells from the last off-road use are removed more thoroughly. If the vehicle is equipped with a 360-degree camera, its image is automatically displayed on the screen after a few seconds. This makes it easier to drive into a carwash.

Furthermore, all features of the vehicle that may cause a mishap in the carwash, from the automatic windscreen wipers to the panoramic sliding sunroof, are switched off or closed, in so far as these functions are legally permitted in the individual markets. These settings are automatically deactivated when the driver drives out of the carwash and accelerates to a speed above 20 km/h.

[1] Figures for fuel consumption and CO2 emissions are provisional and were determined by the Technical Service for the certification process in accordance with the WLTP test method and correlated into NEDC figures. EC type approval and a certificate of conformity with official figures are not yet available. Differences between the stated figures and the official figures are possible.

[2] All prices shown in this press information: Recommended retail price in Germany, incl. 19% VAT

[3] The stated figures are the measured "NEDC CO2 figures in conformance with Article 2 No. 1 Implementing Regulation (EU) 2017/1153. The fuel consumption figures were calculated based on these figures. A higher value may be applied as a basis for calculating the motor vehicle tax.