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Merc’s new GLS: luxury saloon inside, rugged off-roader outside

S Muralidhar | Updated on June 25, 2020 Published on June 25, 2020

The GLS gets Gen-6 MBUX multimedia system with 3D navigation and gesture control

Third-gen flagship bearing the 3-pointed star can deliver the thrilling ride you’ve always wanted to share with your family

The automobile industry has been reeling under the effect of the lockdown with new car registrations plummeting to record lows. But the passenger car industry has stirred back to life putting the zero dispatches for the month of April behind it. New car launches are back on the anvil and the arms of the industry are slowly, cautiously emerging out of the lockdown. With our market still being populated by new models that didn’t exist before in the premium and luxury car segments, every year, there are more launches in this category than in the more affordable vehicle categories in the sub-₹20 lakh range. This year is not going to be an exception, despite the extraordinary circumstances that we see ourselves in. For example, all the three German luxury car brands have already launched or opened bookings for a number of new models.

Mercedes-Benz India has been one of the most active having already launched five models since the beginning of the year, of which three were officially launched digitally during the lockdown. Last week it pulled the wraps off the brand new GLS; its flagship sports utility vehicle’s latest generation. The GLS is an important model for Mercedes-Benz in India because of the appeal of size and space that the GLS promises, while it is still considered the S-Class of SUVs in its comfort and luxury positioning. There are already over 6,700 GLSs on Indian roads and the new third-generation GLS promises to set new benchmarks in the segment.

The new 2020 GLS has grown in proportions with the length and wheelbase growing by 77mm and 60mm respectively. But the more important metric for buyers here will be the 87mm increase in cabin legroom in the second row. It is quite a large, 7-seater SUV even by American standards. The front design is classic Mercedes with its signature twin bar grille and the brand logo in glossy black set in the centre. The large air intakes and the chrome protector sticking out from the underbody are both indicative of the performance and model hierarchy of the GLS. This three-row luxury boat may not be the most appealing to look at in terms of its design with the rear still a little reminiscent of the first generation’s rather upright tailgate. Yet, the new GLS has managed to score an improvement in its aerodynamic quotient at 0.32 cd value compared to the predecessor’s 0.35, achieved mostly through a more intelligent direction and manipulation of airflow. The result is said to have been an improvement in fuel efficiency and a significant reduction in wind noise.

Cabin

In keeping with its target customer, the India-spec variants of the 2020 GLS get a lot of the features from the international model. The cabin is exceptionally well-appointed with a lot of the individual elements reminding one of the S-Class. Big, nicely bolstered seats clad in soft leather with plush head restraints in the second row. The seats in the front and second row too are electrically adjustable with single touch folding for all three rows allowing multiple combinations for increasing storage space. To offer more control for second row occupants, the front seats can be electrically operated from the rear. The dashboard layout is clean with the high quality of materials used being a highlight. The glossy anthracite lime wood trim, metal inserts and backlit controls, along with the 64-colour ambient lighting makes the new GLS’s cabin feel very plush and personal. More comfort features abound including 5-zone auto climate control, airmatic level control for lowering the rear suspension while unloading heavy luggage and electric sunblinds for the rear windows.

The cabin is also a lot more high tech with the addition of the dual 12.3-inch digital touchscreens for the instrument panel and infotainment functions. The GLS now gets the Gen-6 MBUX multimedia system with 3D navigation and gesture control. There is also a rear seat entertainment package, in addition to the 13-speaker Burmester music system.

Powertrain

The new GLS gets two engine options - a 3-litre, in-line six-cylinder Diesel engine and a similar displacement, in-line six petrol engine.

The GLS 400d features the OM656 diesel engine delivering 330hp of power and 700Nm of torque. The GLS 450 4MATIC’s petrol engine gets Merc’s EQ Boost tech with a 48-volt hybrid system and an integrated starter generator. The engine delivers 367hp of peak power and 500Nm of torque, and the EQ system offers an additional 250Nm of torque and 22hp of power. Both the engines are mated to Merc’s 9G-TRONIC automatic transmission and they are BS6 emissions compliant. The diesel variant’s top speed is limited at 238kmph and the petrol variant tops out at 246kmph.

In addition to passive safety features, there are a number of active and practical safety features too that should make the GLS convenient to drive in crowded cities. Active park assist with a 360-degree surround view camera, blind spot assist and active brake assist are just some of them. An interesting addition here is the car wash function which just makes sure that the car is prepared for a drive through car wash by closing all windows and sunroofs, folding mirrors, activating the aircon’s recirculation mode and deactivating proximity sensors.

For improved connectivity, the Mercedes Me app gets an new interface and the service app also now offers a more seamless online appointment booking. It also now gets biometric ID access for unlocking the car. Connected features now include remote opening and closing of windows and sunroof, geofencing for getting notification realtime about the location of the car and the car finder function for locating it in a crowded parking lot.

How much is it?

One of the novel features in the new GLS that has been developed by engineers at the MB research centre in Bangalore is the inclusion of Covid testing centres in the points of interest category of the new NTG 6 Navigation system. This data will be available for Bangalore, Hyderabad, and Kolkata in addition to the four major metros.

The new GLS while being very capable on-road with the mannerisms of a luxury saloon, is also equally capable off-road with 4MATIC being standard in both the petrol and diesel variants. Both the GLS 400d 4MATIC and the 450 4MATIC have been priced at ₹99.9 lakh (ex-showroom all-India, except Kerala).

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Published on June 25, 2020
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