Mercedes GLS (2016) revealed: the GL has a new face (and a new name)

Published: 03 November 2015

► Mercedes GL becomes the GLS
► New face, interior, tweaked powertrains
► Reaches the road in spring 2016

Meet the updated Mercedes GL. Or, more accurately, the new Mercedes GLS. As well as a comprehensive facelift, Merc has given its giant seven-seater SUV a fresh name, bringing it into line with its new, mildly confusing naming strategy. It joins the GLA, GLC, GLE, GLE Coupe and the good old (really old) G-Class in Merc’s recently expanded and updated SUV line-up.

Is there any actual link to the S-class?

No, the S suffix is purely a part of Mercedes new filing system. The GLS is a thorough overhaul of the pre-existing GL series, with a big facelift at the front, a more minor one at the back, a refreshed interior and some drivetrain and suspension fettling.

It’s still enormous, measuring more than 5m long and 1.8m tall, with a wheelbase you could almost park a Renault Twingo inside and seven electric motor-packed seats as standard.

Talk me through what’s new

That facelift, grafting a far more up to date façade across the SUV’s bluff frontage is the most obvious bit. There’s a more of a minor nip and tuck at the back, concentrating on the tail-lights and bumper. Inside, there’s a new instrument panel, a smarter three-spoke steering wheel with plenty of button controls, up-to-date smartphone connectivity tech, and Mercedes’ de rigueur touchpad interface on the centre console.

It’s a more fuel-efficient car than its predecessor, with tweaks throughout the engine range and the fitting of a new-to-the-GL nine-speed automatic gearbox, with plenty of ‘Dynamic Select’ transmission modes to fiddle with. Elsewhere, the air suspension system’s been tinkered with and assistance systems have been updated to include the likes of lane-keeping assist and pedestrian recognition warning.

2016 Mercedes GLS engine range

  • GLS 500 4Matic: petrol V8 bi-turbo, with power upped by 20bhp to a 449bhp total
  • GLS 400 4Matic: petrol V6 bi-turbo with 328bhp
  • GLS 350d 4Matic: turbodiesel V6 with 254bhp

All feature four-wheel drive and the new nine-speed automatic gearbox, with a low-range ’box and centre differential lock an option.

Will there still be an AMG version?

Of course there will. The vaguely absurd Mercedes-AMG GLS 63 4Matic now packs no less than 576bhp from its 5.5-litre bi-turbo V8, a 26bhp increase over the old GL version, and peak torque of 560lb ft from only 1750rpm. That’s still biased towards the rear wheels, so if you want to terrify up to six passengers on wet roundabouts, you can. The AMG uses a fettled version of its pre-existing seven-speed gearbox rather than the new nine-speeder.

On sale date, prices

Orders open November 2015, with European deliveries starting in March 2016. Prices start from €62,850 (around £44,600) in central Europe, stretching to almost double for the AMG 63. UK prices are yet to be announced, but the existing Mercedes GL starts from £61,655 - expect to pay a little more for the refreshed GLS.

Read the CAR review of the old, pre-facelift Mercedes GL here.

By James Taylor

CAR's deputy features editor, occasional racer

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