There is nothing like an SUV to road trip across India. You need to tackle bad roads, sudden water streams, and maddening crowd. Any car with jacked up dimensions and chunky looks love calling themselves SUVs, rendering the term as most one of most abused words.
I was told, Mercedes has reformed the third generation of its flagship to meet the luxury of S-Class and can chew anything thrown at it. We did what was asked from us and have especially left the GLS a bit too clean to make it understandable.
GLS, popularly known as the GL, has been in the picture for quite some time now. In its current avatar, it takes on the likes of Audi Q8 and BMW X7.
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LEDs are the craze and I fear carmakers are always on the hot seat to woo the customer. Ironically, Ultra Range High Beam fitted on the GLS will put most cars to shame. Taking turns on broken, winding, and unpredictable roads, the lights instilled a sense of belief and less stressful, as if an invisible eye was guiding us all the way.
The towering presence of GLS on road has a lot to do with the dissimilarly large front and rear tyres and additional inches to an already butch stance. As brawny as you can imagine, GLS gets 21-inch, 5-spoke alloy wheels, the additional 77mm increase in length and 22mm in width. The difficulty you face with such a humongous SUV is possibly the not-so-sharp turning radius. Narrow roads with obstacles ahead. Check! The 360-degree view of the jumps into action, secure your movement with a bird’s eye view.
Now, 99 per cent of GLS owners wouldn’t want to venture into deceptive tracks to off-road or the extremities of Himalaya. But it’s good to know, stuck ever, if you are, the GLS is one heck of a 4X4, which is able to muscle its way through.
That confidence has plenty to do with what you get under the hood. The diesel guise, 400D, underpinning a 3.0-litre straight-six turbo-diesel belts out 330 horses and 700 Nm. 450D, the petrol variant, we chose to drive to the hills, is as silent as time. It’s unassumingly powerful and quick. The 3.0-litre straight-six turbo-petrol, rated at 367horses and 500Nm, zooms 0 to 100 kmph under 8 seconds.
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Heard of EQ from Mercedes? Yes, the electric sub-brand from the Germans. Now, the GLS possesses a 48-volt mild-hybrid system that generates additional 22 horses and 250Nm, touted to be EQ boost. The electric motor coupled with the powertrain is engaging and offers that extra impetus in case of a rush. The 9-speed transmission is responsive and shifts swiftly. Much like the smaller GLE, the GLS also misses out on Sport mode. Now, that might be a miss on the paper not in actual terms though. Hardly, was the paddles used in the hills to shift gears but who knows, on the empty motorway, that is something you would desire.
In my wildest dream, never could I imagine, engines could be this refined and yet sublimely quiet. The enchanting view and thick woods cropped some noise, but I’m itching to drive the EQC followed by the GLS. Who knows, GLS might have an equally silent cabin, thanks to fantastic engineering.
The focus has surely been on the first two rows. Middle row occupants can count space and the inspiration is logical. GLS, a chaffered-driven choice, Mercedes bets on this flagship as the S-Class of SUVs. The 5-zone climate control was hardly put to use as the cosmic sunroof let the fresh air permeate into the cabin and the 13-speaker Burmeister sound helped to fill the gaps in between conversation.
Whenever bored, it was the Mercedes’ personal voice assistant coming in the way to break the monotony. The much-talked about M-BUX trickles into the GLS, like others in the family and is brisk in follow your commands. A DSLR, gimbal, drone, power bank and couple of spare phones ensured by kit bag was stuffed to the brink. Who cares, no body tussled for a charging slot. With as many as 11 USB ports and 2 wireless charging slots in different nook and corner, it was a non-intrusive process. However, C-type in nature, it felt adapters needed in plenty.
The GLS has great road manners, excellent stability, great driving position, and very comfortable indeed. What are you waiting for? We chose the outskirts of Nainital. What’s on your bucket list? Pack your bag, take the much-needed break and head for your road trip.