The humongous new seven-seat Mercedes GLS SUV has gone on sale in the UK and it will set you back a not-inconsiderable £73,995.

You get an awful lot of metal for your money, though. The GLS is both longer and wider than its already vast predecessor, measuring more than 17ft long and 6ft 6in feet wide. Weight? Around 2.5 tons.

The trade off for the size of the thing is the amount space there is inside. Most of the extra length has gone between the axles, freeing up more space for passengers in the second row. The third row has two proper seats that, Mercedes claims, can accommodate passengers up to 6ft 3in tall – a feat that few other 7-seat SUVs can manage.

Drop all seven seats and there’s a van-like 2,400 litres of boot space, too.

The interior of the GLS is suitably lavishly appointed, too. Mercedes does class it the S-Class of SUVs, after all. All seven seats are heated and leather trimmed. Merc’s voice-controlled MBUX infotainment system is standard, with a massive display screen almost 2ft long stretching from in front of the driver across the centre stack of the dashboard.

Tick a few option boxes and rear seat passengers get their own 7in MBUX controller tablet (Rear Comfort Package Plus) or even an 11.6in touchscreen in the back of each front seat (Rear Seat Entertainment System). There’s also the option of substituting the second-row, three-seat bench for a pair of armchairs.

The only engine choice available in the UK at the moment is Merc’s latest 3.0-litre, twin-turbo V6 diesel, badged 400d. Its 330hp and 516lb/ft of torque are enough to haul the GLS along in sprightly fashion, the 0-62mph sprint taking just 6.3secs, while top speed is 148mph.

Power goes through a nine-speed automatic gearbox to 4Matic all-wheel-drive. Air suspension with adaptive damping comes as standard and features a “carwash” mode that raises the suspension to narrow the track slightly, to get between the rails more easily, and give enough clearance for the wheelarches to be cleaned out.

Other engines will become available in due course, probably including a V8 petrol and a hybrid. There will almost certainly be an AMG version, as well.

The GLS400d achieves fuel economy on the combined cycle of 35.8mpg and Co2 emissions of 208g/km is marginally better than the old, less powerful diesel GLS. But it is quite a lot worse than the GLS’s main rival, the BMW X7.

The range starts with the GLS400d AMG Line Premium, which comes with 22in wheels, the full MBUX system, Burmester stereo, 360-degree camera, head-up display and a panoramic roof thrown in for that £73,995. Spec the aforementioned X7 with the same sort of stuff and you would spend an awful lot more.

Increasingly lavish AMG Line Premium Plus and AMG Line Premium Plus Executive models are available, as well. There’s also an optional Off Road Package with some pretty hardcore hardware should you want to take your GLS off the beaten track. It can tow 3.5 tons, too.


By Graham King