This is the new generation Mercedes-Benz GL-Class (codenamed X166), a seven-seater SUV that can cross jungles to deliver its passengers to their destination. In a nutshell, this vehicle is massive, comes with boatload of technology, decked out in bespoke luxury and beastly powerful.
So let’s kick things off with the engines first. There are three powerplant permutations for the X166, one diesel and two petrol engines, which also make up for three GL-Class variants. All engines now come standard with the ECO Start/Stop for fuel economy reasons.
The first is the GL 350 BlueTEC 4MATIC that is powered by a 3.0 litre V6 BlueTEC diesel engine. The oil burner produces 258 hp at 3,600 and a torque of 620 Nm at 1,600 to 2,400 rpm.
The NEDC consumption combined is recorded at 7.4–8.0 l/100km and emits 192–202 g CO2/km; a 20% reduction compared with the predecessor and Euro 6 emission standard compliant. The engine enables the GL 350 to accelerate 0-100 km/h in 7.9 seconds and have a top speed of 220 km/h.
And then, we have the GL 500 4MATIC BlueEFFICIENCY that uses a 4.6 litre V8 turbocharged BlueDIRECT engine. The turbocharged powerplant generates 435 hp at 5,250 rpm with a torque of 700 Nm at 1,800 to 3,500 rpm.
The GL 500’s 0-100 km/h is timed at 5.4 seconds and is capable of reaching speeds of up to 250 km/h. Posted economy figures, based in NEDC consumption combined, is 11.3-11.5 l/100km and 262-269 g CO2/km, which is 18% better than its predecessor.
Finally, most powerful GL-Class is the GL 63 AMG. The 5.5 litre V8 Biturbo block that lives between the grille and the firewall produces 557 hp at 5,250 to 5,750 rpm with a torque of 760 Nm at 2,000 – 5,000 rpm.
The GL 63’s performance figures are just as impressive: 0-100 km/h in just 4.6 seconds and a top speed (electronically governed) of 250 km/h. As for its fuel consumption, SUV drinks 12.3 l/100km and emits 288 g CO2/km, which all things considered is actually quite respectable.
Three engines is mated the AMG SpeedShift Plus 7G-Tronic. It is a seven-speed gearbox that features a fuel-economy torque converter with mass-damper pendulum, low-friction bearings and thermal management for the transmission fluid. The gearbox is also capable of automatic double-declutching when downshifting. Power is delivered to all four wheels through an autonomous transfer case at a front-to-rear ratio of 40:60.
The highlight of the gearbox is its drive modes, specifically the Controlled Efficiency or ‘C’. Selecting this mode will automatically activate the ECO start/stop, which halts the engine when the SUV comes to a standstill. ‘C’ also sets the accelerator softer, the gearbox shift earlier and launch the vehicle in second gear.
Because having a permanent 4WD system isn’t enough, the SUV gets the AMG Ride Control sports suspension with Airmatic package – including air suspensions, special spring struts and automatic ride height adjustment. The GL-Class also gets the Adaptive Damper System (ADS) and is partnered with the Active Curve System anti-roll stabilisation.
What makes the GL a respectable off-road vehicle is the aptly named ON&OFFROAD package. On top of the four-wheel drive 4MATIC, the package also includes driving-off assistant, Downhill Speed Regulation (DSR) and off-road driving programs.
There are six programs to choose from – Automatic, Offroad 1, Offroad 2, Winter, Sport and Trailer. Auto mode covers everyday driving, Offroad 1 and 2 is used on off-road terrain, Winter gives more traction for icy conditions, Sport is selected for blasting on the B-road and Trailer is selected when you’re towing something.
The ON&OFFROAD package also reinforces the underside with armour. There is underrun protection for the engine and the underfloor paneling is fibre-reinforced. Also with the package is a two-stage power transmission with reduction gears, longitudinal differential lock and extended Airmatic function that gives a maximum ground clearance of 306 mm and a wading depth of 600 mm.
All that driving-dynamic tech and engine is wrapped in a rather huge shell. The new GL-Class is 21 mm longer, 14 mm wider and 10 mm taller than the last gen. Which brings the total length to 5,120 mm, width to 1,934 mm and height to 1,850 mm. The wheelbase did not grow when compared to the previous GL; it remains 3,075 mm long. As for the luggage compartment, you get 680 litres by default. Put all rear seats down (the seating formation is 2-3-2) and the space expands to 2,300 litres.
In spite of all that, the GL-Class is lighter than the last GL. The behemoth weighs in at 2,455 kg, which is 90 kg less fat. And yet, no amount of luxury has been culled in the process.
Mercedes-Benz has saved kilos by using ‘weight-optimsed’ things like plastic engine support, high-strength magnesium alloy cockpit cross beam, electric steering and new multilayer glass technology, which also helps reduce NVH. Weight per axle is reduced by 18 kg by using high-strength aluminium alloys.
It is aerodynamic too, no jest. Mercedes-Benz has sealed unwanted gaps, redirected airflow and used aerodynamically optimised parts to let the SUV sail through the air. The GL 350 BlueTEC achieves the best drag coefficient of cd = 0.35, the other two variants are more of less the same.
Since this is a Mercedes-Benz, luxury is not forgotten. In fact, the GL’s innards are appropriately appointed. Trim can either be in wood or aluminium, depending on how you’re like to spec it. Seats are wrapped in perforated Artico man-made leather or you can also choose have multicontour leather cooling seats for the driver and front passenger.
Leather covers most of the interior. A good acreage is covered with Artico leather with the exception of the steering wheel, which is wrapped in nappa leather. Opt for the designo Exclusive-Package and the interior will be decked out in quality designo nappa leather, decorative seams and diamond-patterned quilting on the seats and door linings.
Another option to consider is the Bang & Olufsen BeoSound AMG High-End Sound System. It comes with a 1,200 W 14 high-end loudspeakers that is hooked up to a Bang & Olufsen ICE Power amp. The salient point of the sound system comes from its capability to compensate for driving noises.
A microphone is placed in the overhead control panel that picks up the sound, sends the wavebands into a digital sound processor and raises the volume for individual speakers as and when needed. So one will never have to endure the sound of traffic, tyres, wind, engine, gears and even rain when the music is playing.
The Mercedes-Benz is also packed to the brim with safety features. It gets the usual ESP, ASR, ABS and Pre-Safe, as well as the Collision Prevention Assist and Attention Assist. Also standard are the Steer Control that reduces driver strain and Crosswind Assist that supports the driver during crosswinds situation.
The distance control Distronic Plus, braking assistant BAS Plus and the autonomous Pre-Safe brake comes as options. Another assist system on the option list is the Active-Park assistant that helps drivers detect a suitable parking space and steers the GL automatically into position.
Prices for the X166 start at €60,900 for the GL 350 BlueTEC 4MATIC. The GL 500 4MATIC BlueEFFICIENCY can be had for €79,500 and the GL 63 AMG for €109,500. These are base prices, so do expect it to balloon with you start ticking the boxes in the options list. And by the way, it is not available in Malaysia as yet.