Previously known as the GL, the biggest Mercedes SUV has been updated and is henceforth known as the GLS, since it is equivalent to the S-Class, both in size and fit-out.
Accompanying the change is the rehashed nomenclature; hence its full name is Mercedes-AMG GLS 63. A minor styling update inside and out and added safety and comfort items complete the revitalisation picture. That said, some things date the car, like the awkward split folding and return of the middle seats to facilitate entry into the third row.
The GLS gets new LED headlights, but the redesign is minor, reshaped bumpers and a new grille plastered with an unmissable three-pointed star. Everything is big about this monster truck, which is 5.1 metres long and 2m wide. It’s not far off 2m tall either. With a wheelbase of over 3m, there’s third-row seating, and while adults can fit back there, it’s a bit of a squeeze. Still, a sports SUV that seats seven is a bit novel.
The interior update sees a new sporty D-shaped steering wheel, fresh instruments, a new central dash display along with a Comand controller for the infotainment system and much more besides, like lumbar support and massage function for the front seats, nice. Some of the GL buttons carry over but the interior is pleasant, the sports seats cosseting.
The 63 is the big daddy of the four-strong GLS range, packing a 5.5-litre twin-turbo V8 making an unlikely 430kW and 760Nm, mated to a seven-speed auto (the others get nine cogs, no biggie). Fuel use is up there too, at 12.3L/100km combined. Get carried away, and you should expect fuel use solidly in the twenties.
In black with chrome highlights, it resembles a raised hearse in profile, but it should certainly get you to your funeral on time, hitting 100km/h in a touch under its 4.6sec claim, and producing an overtaking time to rival almost any SUV, at 2.86sec. Even in regular comfort mode it can get up and honk, the air springs quashing any road imperfections beneath. Hook Sports and it ups the ante, while Sport+ takes it a step further, also unleashing lots of exciting exhaust clamour on the overrun. Barred up, the Active Curve Control system deals to corners better than you’d expect, until suddenly it doesn’t.
Continuing on the bigger is better theme, there are 22-inch wheels, shod with 285/40R22 rubber, as well as tougher AMG brakes. At 2.6 tonnes before humans, it needs them. Cost is a cool $238,000, which must be considered something of a bargain given an S 63 sedan costs $100k more.
This comes replete with active safety tech too, and a host of airbags. Everything that can be electrically operated is, even door closure.
We’re not quite sure who might go for something like this, perhaps service station owners given its love of a drink. But really it’s a pampered person’s big family wagon, and a riotous, if slightly dated one at that. There’s really nothing else quite like it, except perhaps for the incoming Audi SQ7, the one that’s technologically and stylistically much more interesting, uses roughly half as many hydrocarbons, and costs considerably less into the bargain.
|Model||Mercedes-AMG GLS 63||Price||$238,000|
|Engine||5461cc, V8, T/DI, 430kW/760Nm||Drivetrain||7-speed auto, all-wheel drive|
|Fuel Use||12.3L/100km||C02 Output||285g/km|