If I had to identify just one USP of the Mercedes-Benz GLS then I wouldn’t harp on luxury, off-roading abilities, driving pleasure or its flotilla of electronics: all of those can be taken for granted when you’re buying a premium SUV, especially one with the three-pointed star on the hood. With the GLS, the first impression is the most relevant: the sheer size of the thing.
If you haven’t yet laid eyes on the GLS, then try and recall the last time you stood on a five-metre diving platform in your neighbourhood pool, conjuring up the nerve to jump, or dive. That’s about the same distance you’d have to jump to go from the front bumper to the rear fender of the GLS. Actually, at 5.13-metres long, the GLS would be slightly longer than that. And you’d have to be taller than six and a half feet to ever lay eyes on the roof, assuming you’re standing on the ground. It literally defies imagination.
The GLS’ prodigious dimensions translate into a gargantuan road presence and a driving position from where you can survey the lay of your significant estate. With that subliminal gratification established, the GLS then proceeds to insulate its seven occupants in an ark-like three-row living room completely divorced from the tribulations of travel—asphalt and traffic. Did I say living room? Make that a skyroom, once the panoramic sunroof parts to open up the biggest slice of sky you’re likely to see from inside a vehicle. In the GLS, the third row is no afterthought, or marketing gimmick: it’s as roomy, if not roomier, than the back seat of most mid-size SUVs.
Considering that the typical GLS owner is going to be chauffeured around, the second row is really the place to lay your hat. Appropriately equipped with charging points, aircon vents and controls, it’s got all the accoutrements you need for working on the commute. The three-litre diesel churns out adequate power, and does so discreetly, mated with the new 9G-Tronic gearbox; cabin insulation is near-perfect; the yawning legroom is enough for a six-footer to stretch out his legs; the AIRMATIC suspension smoothens out all but the most evil potholes.
If you do choose to drive, you’ll immediately notice the touchpad that can be used to navigate the infotainment system which allows you to use downloaded apps (via a connected phone) in addition to Apple CarPlay, music and navigation. Crucially, the slightly tapered design of the hood of the new GLS naturally draws the focal point toward the centre and, given the mammoth dimensions of this car, makes it feel much smaller than it is, at least when you’re in the driver’s seat.
Typically, the definition of a ‘family car,’ does not imply members of the extended family. The GLS, if given that moniker, implies just that, or more specifically members of the Indian joint family. All in, seated comfortably, bicycles and hampers thrown in the cavernous boot, and ready to go. And if finding a spot of shade for a picnic seems difficult then just lay the lunch spread out in the shadow of the GLS—this SUV is rather versatile.
2017 Mercedes-Benz GLS
Engine: 3-litre V6; bi-turbo; diesel
Power: 258 bhp
Torque: 620 Nm
Price: 080.4 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi)