The new Mercedes-Benz GLS: The S-Class of SUVs

The new Mercedes-Benz GLS is Mercedes-Benz’s largest and most luxurious SUV and, above all, offers more: more space, more comfort, more luxury. The confident presence of its exterior stems from its impressive dimensions, which are even larger than those of its predecessor (length +77 mm, width +22 mm). One of the benefits of the 60 mm longer wheelbase is interior spaciousness, especially in the second row. The three fully electrically adjustable seat rows offer all passengers a generous amount of space and outstanding seating comfort. The seats in the third row can be lowered into the floor to increase the boot space (up to 2400 litres), while the seats in the second row fold flat. Furthermore, a six-seater variant with two luxury individual rear seats in the second seat row is available for the first time. Celebrating its world premiere in the GLS 580 4MATIC (combined fuel consumption: 10.0-9.8 l/100 km; combined CO2 emissions: 229-224 g/km)[1] is an electrified V8 engine featuring EQ Boost – a 48-volt system with integrated starter-generator.

The E-ACTIVE BODY CONTROL active suspension on 48-volt basis offers outstanding suspension comfort, agile handling and a high degree of off-road capability. Like the GLE, the GLS features the latest generation of Mercedes-Benz driving assistance systems giving cooperative support to the driver. The new 4MATIC ensures great agility on the road and strong performance off the beaten track. The new GLS has impressive aerodynamics in its segment, with a Cd figure of 0.32. It has a new Carwash function, which enables the car to be prepared for entry into a carwash with a single press of a button.

As the S-Class of SUVs, the new GLS indulges its passengers, especially those in the rear. The key comfort features at a glance:

  • MBUX Rear Seat Entertainment System: Two 11.6-inch touchscreens for movie, music and internet enjoyment
  • Rear Comfort package Plus: Separate tablet for controlling all of the MBUX comfort and entertainment functions from the rear seats
  • Electrically adjustable seats throughout as standard, as is the Easy-Entry function, which makes it easy to get into and out of the third seat row
  • Simple folding-down of all rear seats at the push of a button
  • Choice of either three-seater rear bench seat or two luxury individual seats with armrests in the second row
  • Two fully fledged seats in the third row (for people up to 1.94 m tall)
  • Heated seats and separate USB charging ports for the third row, too
  • Five-zone automatic climate control available.

“The new GLS is the S-Class of premium SUVs. It embodies luxury, confidence and intelligence like almost no other vehicle,”, states Ola Källenius, the member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG responsible for corporate research and Mercedes-Benz Cars development.

Since 1997, when the M-Class was introduced, Mercedes-Benz has been building premium SUVs in the USA – the main market for these vehicles worldwide. The GL full-size variant offering space for seven people was launched in 2006. In 2015, a facelift emphasised the luxury character of the large SUV’s second generation and also heralded the changing of the name to GLS. On top of that, it is the market leader in its segment – just like the S-Class Saloon.

The new Mercedes-Benz GLS will be presented to the public for the first time at the New York International Auto Show (19 to 28 April 2019). It will be in the dealerships in USA and Western Europe by the end of the year. The GLS is produced in Tuscaloosa (Alabama/USA).

Exterior design: powerful presence

Modern luxury both on and off the road: that is the design message of the new GLS. Its aesthetics are based on the confident presence that its impressive dimensions alone create (length 5207 mm, width 1956 mm). The wheelbase of 3135 mm, which is 60 mm longer than that of its predecessor, makes the vehicle beneficially longer and gives it harmonious proportions, emphasised by the understated, elegant side design. The GLE follows the design strategy of Sensual Purity, and dispenses with individual edges and beading in favour of generously sculptured surfaces.

The front section of the new GLS exudes presence and power: this is ensured by the upright radiator grille in an octagonal SUV interpretation, the prominent, chrome-plated underguard in the front apron with the bone-shaped air inlet grille, and the bonnet with two powerdomes. This striking appearance is emphasised by the distinctive headlamp design by day and night. The GLS has MULTIBEAM LED headlamps as standard, with a total of 112 LEDs per headlamp. These produce the maximum light intensity permitted by law, which results in the brightness of the main beam headlamps only falling below the reference value of 1 lux after a distance of more than 650 metres. The daytime running lights with three LED segments underline the status of the GLS as the S-Class of SUVs.

The GLS cuts an imposing figure from the rear, too. This is particularly ensured by the powerful shoulder muscle extending from the rear doors to the tail lights, which enables the GLS to strike an imperious pose on the road. The two-piece tail lamps are based on LED technology, and their high-calibre, three-dimensional look conveys depth and solidity. The reflectors are relocated lower down, giving the tail lamps a flatter appearance. They are crowned by a slender, continuous chrome trim strip. The rear is strikingly rounded off with the chrome-plated underguard.

Interior design: luxuriously elegant and powerfully progressive

The interior of the new GLS is all about luxuriously elegant aesthetics, as evidenced straight away by the leather appointments, which come as standard. They combine the comfort of a Mercedes-Benz luxury saloon with the robustly progressive detailing of an SUV. The central element in the dashboard’s design is an impressively sized screen unit embedded in a distinctive dashboard support. The dashboard support flows into the door panels, and the integral trim element likewise extends to meet the doors.

The prominently wide, raised centre console creates a robust contrast with the free-floating appearance of the dashboard. As a typical feature of off-roaders, there are two prominent grab handles on the centre console. Apart from good ergonomics, fluent leather surfaces create a modern, luxurious impression, rounded off by a broad area of trim and flush-fitting sunblinds. The controls with haptic and audible feedback appear to have been milled from a solid metal block.

The large touchscreen of the MBUX infotainment system allows all the GLS comfort features to be controlled from the driver’s seat. Very fine chiselling and the pyramid structures of the trim surfaces show the desire for perfection and craftsmanship. The new multifunction sports steering wheel with its striking spoke design accentuates the impressive appearance of the SUV’s interior.

Even more comfort in the rear: MBUX served on a tablet

Luxury in the new GLS is shared generously among all passengers, particularly if the Rear Comfort package Plus is ordered. It includes a 7-inch Android tablet in its own docking station in the second row’s larger luxury centre armrest. The tablet allows control of all the MBUX comfort and entertainment functions (see next section) from the rear seat rows, such as access to radio, TV, media, phone and web browser. It can also be used to control the Rear Seat Comfort package and the five-zone automatic climate control for the rear seats. The driver can assume control of all options and features from his or her seat at any time, of course.

The centre console also offers a wireless-charging compartment for smartphones and additional USB ports. Rear passengers are indulged further still thanks to luxury head restraints with additional cushions and the rearward-extended centre console between the front seats with cup holders.

It is even possible to order luxury seats with lumbar massage function and climate control as an additional option for the Rear Comfort package Plus in the second row.

The MBUX Rear Seat Entertainment System is available for all seating variants – for even more entertainment and convenience. It includes two 11.6-inch touchscreens that allow passengers in the second row to enjoy movies or music, use the integrated web browser, or call up and input trip information. Each screen displays the content selected by the individual user. In addition to the options offered by the MBUX infotainment system, users can also play their own media from a mobile phone, tablet or laptop. If the GLS is equipped with the optional MBUX rear tablet, this can also be used to control the MBUX Rear Seat Entertainment System.

MBUX with Interior Assistant

The GLS is equipped with the latest generation of the infotainment system MBUX (Mercedes-Benz User Experience). Upgrades compared with the A-Class, in which the revolutionary system made its debut, include two large 12.3-inch/31.2 cm screens. The information on the instrument cluster and media display is easily legible on the large, high-resolution screens. An emotive presentation with brilliant graphics underlines the comprehensibility of the intuitive control structure.

The optional MBUX Interior Assistant also allows intuitive operation of different comfort and MBUX functions by movement recognition. A camera in the overhead console registers movements of the driver’s and front passenger’s hands and arms. When a hand approaches the touchscreen or the touchpad on the centre console, the media display changes and individual elements are highlighted. The system is able to distinguish the driver’s hand from that of the front passenger, and therefore knows for whose seat the massage function is to be activated, for example.

In addition there are functions that can be controlled by simple hand gestures: the reading lamp can be switched on and off by extending a hand towards the interior mirror, for example. Furthermore, the driver and front passenger can each store personal favourite functions, e.g. “navigate home” or “call office”.

A unique feature of MBUX (Mercedes-Benz User Experience) is its learning capability thanks to artificial intelligence. With its predictive functions, MBUX anticipates what the user would like next, for example. For instance, anyone who often telephones their mother on Tuesdays during the journey home will receive her telephone number as a suggestion in the display on this day of the week. Anyone who regularly switches over to a radio station with news at a certain time also receives this as a suggestion.

Also available is a next-generation full-colour Head‑up Display, which sets new standards with a resolution of 720 x 240 pixels and an extended projection distance.

Suspension: AIRMATIC air suspension as standard

The GLS comes with the enhanced AIRMATIC air suspension system with Adaptive Damping System Plus fitted as standard. This setup uses highly complex sensor systems and algorithms to adapt the damping characteristics to the road condition and driving situation in real time. All components have been enhanced compared with the previous generation, and the wheel suspension mountings have been optimised to maximise ride comfort. In addition to this, the air suspension keeps the car at the same level, regardless of the load on board.

Carwash function: ready for cleaning

One new, standard feature is the Carwash function – which comes in very handy, especially for a large vehicle like the GLS. When this function is selected, the suspension moves to the highest position, which reduces the track widths due to the axle geometry. This makes it easier to drive into a carwash as well as remove any dirt remaining in the wheel arches from the last off-road trip. The Carwash function also:

  • Folds in the exterior mirrors.
  • Closes the side windows and the sliding sunroof.
  • Suppresses the rain sensor information so that the windscreen wipers remain switched off in the carwash.
  • Switches the climate control to air-recirculation mode and , after eight seconds, activates the 360° camera’s front image to assist the driver when driving into the carwash
  • Deactivates these settings automatically when the driver drives out of the carwash and accelerates to a speed above 20 km/h.

Outstandingly intelligent suspension: E-ACTIVE BODY CONTROL

Even better ride comfort and agility plus new functions such as recovery mode are provided by the optional E-ACTIVE BODY CONTROL suspension, which is combined with the newly developed AIRMATIC air suspension. This is currently the only system on the market that can individually control spring and damping forces at each wheel. This means that it not only counteracts body roll, but also pitching and squat. Together with ROAD SURFACE SCAN and the curve inclination function CURVE, E-ACTIVE BODY CONTROL makes an exceptional level of comfort possible, and supports the claim of Mercedes-Benz to build the world’s most intelligent SUV suspension.

Enquire or book in a test drive for the new 2019 Mercedes-Benz GLS