Mercedes-Benz GL-Class review | carsguide.com.au

24 Mar 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on Mercedes-Benz GL-Class review | carsguide.com.au
Mercedes GL 350

Mercedes-Benz GL-Class

review

Imposing without being aggressive in its stance, the Mercedes-Benz GL-Class is immensely practical

Ewan Kennedy road tests and reviews the new Mercedes-Benz GL-Class in Stuttgart.

An interesting feature of the new vehicle market is that 4WDs and SUVs have a significantly longer life cycle than cars. This reflects back to the days when they were based on light trucks, and truck buyers were more interested in running costs and practicality than in owning the last word in style.

Mercedes-Benz’s big GL-Class is a case in point. The upcoming new model we have just tested in Germany is a sensible update of the outgoing six-year-old model, not a totally new vehicle. Amongst other things this helps to keep the new price down and to slow the rate of depreciation.

Facts that will be appreciated by the typically sensible person attracted to the GL-Class.

Those who do want to get down and dirty in the dirt can tick the options box for the OnOffRoad package which provides under-run protection for the engine, fibre-reinforced underfloor panels, power transmission with reduction gears, a longitudinal differential lock and extended AirMatic functions. This vehicle has maximum ground clearance of 306 mm and a fording depth of 600 mm.

Pricing and final equipment levels will be provided for the Australian market closer to the launch date, probably in June 2013.

Power for the GL 350 BlueTec is provided by a V6 diesel engine; a V8 petrol engine in the GL 500 BlueEfficiency gives lots more grunt; the new GL 63 AMG with V8 Biturbo petrol engine provides up to 410 kW of power and 1000 (yes, 1000!) Newton metres for the driver in a real hurry.

The existing platform has been retained, but with quite a few modifications. As a start, 90 kg has been removed from its weight to assist in reduction in fuel use and emission of CO2. More about this in a moment.

Despite the lower weight the body is even stiffer than before and, together with other sound dampening measures this makes for a more relaxed interior. The engineers put strong emphasis on comfort and quietness.

While the external body components are all new, they retain a strong resemblance to the superseded GL. The result is a large wagon that’s imposing without being aggressive in its stance.

The squared off shape means the big Mercedes GL-Class has always been an immensely practical genuine seven seater.

More interior width and height have been squeezed out of the new body. Though the GL can carry seven adults in reasonable comfort it’s probably best regarded as a family bus for mum, dad, a couple of teenagers and three smaller children. Just right for many a mixed family in Australia.

The GL-Class does have an all-new interior with the latest Mercedes-Benz theme of simplicity and elegance. We really like the look and the excellent ergonomic layout of all the controls.

It goes without saying that this Mercedes-Benz has many primary and secondary safety systems. In addition to the expected ESP and ABS units the GL is also fitted with Collision Prevention Assist and the drowsiness detector, Attention Assist. The big wagon can help the driver by using Steer Control in borderline driving situations, for instance by turning the steering wheel if the vehicle is oversteering.

Crosswind Assist keeps the GL travelling in a straight line even in strong crosswinds. This makes for remarkably relaxing driving and we have tested it in big Benz sedans in Australia.

All our testing to date has been done on German roads, some of them pretty rough back sections. There the GL-Class was as quiet as a midsize sedan and it handled bumps and dips with ease. While we can’t definitely comment on GL’s behaviour in Australia we feel confident it will handle our backroads just as competently.

On the downside, the handling is on the soft side and the steering, while competent enough, is relatively slow and easy in its actions. This is just right for the typical buyers of a SUV / people mover.

We didn’t get a chance to drive the new AMG GL 63 version with sub five second times in the zero to 100 km/h dash and we are sure it’s suspension will be nicely firmed up to suit the revheads.

Even in Australia very few people buy SUVs for genuine off-road use so the emphasis in the standard model is on the GL-Class being an upper class people carrier.

Mercedes-Benz GL350 CDI

Price: est. from $120,000

Warranty: 3 years/unlimited km

Service Interval: 12 months/15,000km

Safety: 6 airbags, ABS, EBD, EBA, TC

Crash Rating: 5 stars

Engine: 3-litre V6 turbo-diesel; 195kW/620Nm

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