I took out the new 2016 Mercedes GLS to find out if it deserves the ‘S’ added to its prefix. Is it as intimidating as it looks?
Well, on entry, I discovered it is indeed an S Class on stilts.
It is luxury combined with practicality. Don’t be fooled by its size, standing at over five meters long and shy of two meters wide, this car moves with haste; thanks to the choice of powerful engines under the hood.
I am in the 350d 4MATIC that takes on the open road effortlessly with no sign of strain. The turbo kicks in instantly and every time I pressed the gas pedal, my head was pinned into the headrest. That is an awesome feeling. Overtaking does not come with anxiety.
It actually seems to encourage it. Despite pushing it harder and harder down Mombasa Road, the fuel gauge refused to barge.
In comfort mode, you will wonder if something is wrong with the gauge. To confirm that it is working, simply shift to sports mode.
The mannerism of the vehicle changes and everything is urgent.
A long journey suddenly becomes shorter and you will get to your destination sooner with a wide smile. This 2987cc engine delivers a modest 258hp (190kW) with torque of 625Nm and is mated to a 9G-Tronic automatic transmission for maximum efficiency.
If you need more grunt, go for the GLS500 that has a V8 Biturbo that throws out 455hp (335kW) sufficient to deliver you to 100kph at 7.8 seconds.
The AMG GLS 63 is a different kettle of fish and you will understand what 585HP (430kW) means. Top speed is limited to 250km/h but the 760Nm of torque as early as 1,650rpm is what delivers the excitement.
This car also comes with lane assist, active park assist and 360 degrees cameras to help you park with ease.
At night the automatic dimming mirrors make driving less painful when other drivers don’t care. On your part, the GLS will automatically deep its headlights as oncoming vehicles and revert to full beam as soon as they have passed.
It is an offroader by all means but you have the choice to further spec it for more ability in the rough. You can have and should have the optional low range gearbox and differential lock. It is called the off-road Engineering package. If you opt for a grey import this might not be part of the offering. You can choose the off-road+ mode as well.
With this, the low-range gearbox and centre differential lock also intervene if necessary in order to ensure a high degree of driveability in demanding treacherous terrain.
This is further boosted by the extended functions of the airmatic air suspension with raised ride heights for a ground clearance of up to 306 millimetres and thus a fording depth of up to 600 millimetres.
It does not let down when it comes to luxury pleasures. It comes with Apple play, a satellite navigation system that actually works locally.