Test drive: Mercedes-Benz GLS500 4MATIC

This off-roading, people-carrying, luxury car does it all.

Damien Reid March 26, 2017

Mercedes-Benz has been working hard to simplify the badging process of its SUV range to align them with its core sedan lineup, so while adding an S to the GL badge might not seem much from the outside, it hints at much bigger things within.

Just as the entry-level GLK SUV is now called the GLC to reflect it’s C-Class lineage and the ML is now badged the GLE, the GL is the all-terrain answer to the S-Class flagship and with that came a bag of upgrades to bring it into line with its saloon stablemate.

EDGAR’s test version was the middle ground GLS500 with its 4.7-litre, twin-turbocharged, V8 engine matched to a nine- speed 9G-TRONIC automatic transmission.

I was waiting for its endless shifting between ratios and hunting for the right cog but it surprised me by being flawlessly smooth to the point of not knowing, or caring, what gear I was in.

In most driving modes, the transmission starts in second to give it a smooth acceleration, free from sudden, unintended right foot movements and only kicks off in first gear when you’re locked in Sport mode.

It was brilliant, never hunting for gears and keeping turbo lag to a minimum. When coupled to its 450bhp of power and 700Nm of torque from that turbocharged V8, there was nothing that phased it on the road. Its air suspension combined with its 4MATIC all wheel drive system allowed it to waft around the streets with grace and then tackle twisty mountain passes.

It felt smaller and livelier behind the wheel than I could have imagined any seven-seat SUV and it was only when we’d stopped after a long drive through the mountains that we were reminded of its size when trying to park.

Up front, the driver gets the standard Mercedes-Benz treatment that’s being carried through every model from the C-Class to the AMG GT to the SUV fleet and while the dash look and interior feel is becoming a bit samey if you’re into your Mercs, the cabin layout does work well. The GLS500 adds a panoramic glass electric sunroof with slide/tilt function, front seats fitted with heating and cooling ventilation, a heated second row of seats and all three rows trimmed in Nappa leather. It also has an anti-theft protection package and a digital TV tuner.

With a 3,500kg towing capacity, it’s a genuine option for hitching up heavy loads and when you stack up its versatility, off-road capability and people-moving dimensions against its plush S-Class interior, the GLS ticks a lot of boxes in one handsome package. 

mercedesbenzme.com

Specs

  • Engine: 4.7-litre, twin-turbo V8
  • Power: 450bhp @5,250rpm
  • Torque: 700Nm @ 1,800rpm
  • Transmission: nine-speed automatic
  • 0-100kmh: 5.3 seconds
  • Top speed: 250kmh
  • Price: AED 381,000