Home / Home / Mercedes-Benz GLS 450 4MATIC Tested Review – Star Life


The most ostentatious Mercedes-Benz SUV gets new engines and an update that includes, inter alia, style and convenience.

Story: Joshua Varghese
Photography: Apurva Ambep

The S-Class on stilts is how most people describe the GLS and it is not far from the truth. After all, the GLS’ purpose is to bridge the gap between the S-Class’ luxury and the practicality of a sport utility vehicle (SUV). We spent some time in the city and on the highway behind the wheel of the latest version of this opulent car. Some things have been left alone (thankfully), while others have changed for the better. Seen in these pictures is the Mercedes-Benz GLS 450 4MATIC and it is one of the two options that will be replacing the GLS 400d 4MATIC.

Dimensionally, it would have been identical to its predecessor if it were not for two millimetres; that is how much longer it is than the previous model. The width, height, and wheelbase are alike. Which means it is still a chapel on wheels (gorgeous 21-inch rims with Michelin tyres, if we are being pedantic). The silhouette of the car has been left intact but changes have been made to the fore and aft. A massive grille with horizontal chrome louvres—possibly inspired by the G-Class—adorns the front, sitting regally above a significantly reworked bumper. Mercedes claim that the headlights have been tweaked slightly to match the new look. While there is nothing new about the profiles of this SUV, the tail-lights have been replaced with a fresh design.

Inside, things are largely familiar but Mercedes have found a way to improve an already lavish cabin. Top-quality material with remarkable levels of fit-and-finish has been used to line the dashboard which also exhibits a distinct Maybach flavour. This particular car had the dual-tone interior with a generous spread of beige and piano black. It may be maintenance-intensive but it does a fabulous job of enriching the luxurious character of the car while also complementing its large and airy interior. Closer inspection revealed that the GLS also had a new steering wheel where the scroll buttons were replaced with touch-sensitive ones.

In my opinion, the sanctity of a luxurious cabin is borne by the seats, sound system, refinement, convenience, and air-conditioning. With high quality leather, ventilation, and comfortable contours, the seats fit the bill perfectly. Burmester’s 13-speaker set-up (plus an amplifier) with Dolby Atmos compatibility has the acoustics covered. Sound insulation on the glass has ensured that the cabin is nice and quiet while the infrared-absorbing film blocks out harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays. They have added wireless Apple CarPlay, a smart move, because who appreciates messing about with a cable in a luxury car? There are also cup-holders that can be heated or cooled. Which is particularly useful in keeping the coffee warm for a longer period of time because the air-conditioning in the GLS is serious business.

As fun as it is to be in the front seats, the second row is just as appealing, although it misses out on seat ventilation and massagers. It makes up for it by isolating the passengers from the world outside. With the curtains up, one can choose to be immersed in one’s own comfort zone. That could be a movie on the rear screen or a nap with the seats reclined, all possible with minimal effort thanks to the detachable tablet in the central arm-rest. My favourite feature was the extremely soft cushion on the head-rest; it always seemed to encourage the most comfortable naps. The third row gets its own air-conditioning and charging but the space there is limited for adults, though, thankfully, children can be accommodated there in reasonable comfort.

Despite being a seven-seater, the boot is considerably spacious. It also has buttons that lower the car for easy loading/unloading and buttons to fold the second and third rows of seats completely flat should further room be required. It adds to the versatility of this flagship luxury SUV.

The new GLS will be offered with one petrol and one diesel options. This particular car had the 3.0-litre, turbocharged, in-line, six-cylinder petrol engine. It developed a considerable 381 hp and 500 Nm of peak torque. Most of said torque is available early in the rev-range and the nine-speed automatic transmission ensures that this behemoth is ready to move in a hurry. There is also an ISG which is good for 20 hp and as much as 200 Nm. It assists the engine for boosts in acceleration and also while cruising on the highway. Meanwhile, Mercedes-Bnez’s most powerful diesel engine does duty in the 450d 4MATIC but that is a story for another day.

Driving modes include Comfort, Eco, and Off-road. Of course, it was surprising to see “Sport” excluded from that list but does one really need it in the GLS? The answer is no. It is a stately SUV that is meant to glide along without a care in the world and that it does royally. Its power delivery is linear and progressive, making it easy to drive smoothly and when one needs a sudden burst of acceleration for an overtake manoeuvre, it is delivered on demand too. Despite the SUV’s sheer bulk and its powerful engine, the GLS is not intimidating to drive at all. Once on the move, it somehow feels smaller.

In spite of being equipped with 21-inch alloy wheels, the ride quality is excellent if comfort is what you are looking for. Most of that is due to the clever air suspension. Its adaptive damping enables optimal damping for each wheel independently. Furthermore, it also allows the car to be lowered at high speed, bringing the centre of gravity closer to the ground. On the expressway, cruising at triple-digit speeds, the stability was reassuring and the comfort lived up to S-Class standards. The GLS is essentially a penthouse on wheels but its composure around corners exceeds expectations. Their decision to use narrower tyres at the front makes the car easier to steer into a corner and it also makes for good feedback at the steering wheel. However, it does not respond well to enthusiastic treatment. This is a car that enjoys being driven fast but sensibly so. In town, there are the limitations that accompany any large SUV and I must say that in some places, I did miss having rear-wheel steering. However, a host of assistance systems make parking relatively easier.

The air suspension raises the car to its maximum ride height in Off-road mode. It is one of the things that makes the GLS so easy to drive. Being a large SUV, there are limitations to visibility unless one is an experienced driver but they have made things simpler with the “Transparent Bonnet”. Cameras around the car stitch together a delayed feed to show what is present under the bonnet. The only problem is that it works only if the car is/was moving and does not work at standstill when the car has just been started. A behemoth like this one needs to be reeled in effectively in case of an emergency. With the amount of technology (the sensitivity of some of the features is now adjustable) Mercedes have packed into this one, most emergencies should be avoided but should that not be the case, there are massive disc brakes all around. The feel and feedback may not be up to an enthusiastic driver’s expectations but they do bring the car to a halt in a jiffy.

At the end of my time with the new GLS, a few things stand out clearly. It continues to uphold the standards of Mercedes-Benz’s luxury and does so while being easy to drive. As nice as it is to drive, I feel that the rear seats offer the better overall experience. However, I still am unable to fathom why they were not equipped with ventilation and massagers. There are controls that push the front passenger seat all the way ahead to maximize leg-room for the passenger seated behind it. Would they not have appreciated a massage? I suspect that would have ruined the car’s seven-seat capacity.

However, Mercedes-Benz have redeemed themselves with the price. For reference, the outgoing GLS 400d was priced at Rs 1.33 crore (ex-showroom). The new GLS 450 4MATIC and the GLS 450d 4MATIC are priced at Rs 1.32 crore and Rs 1.37 crore respectively. Considering that they come equipped with new engines and a host of useful updates, they do make a very desirable proposition.

Also Read: Hyundai Great India Drive 2023 – Seeking God in the Jungle


About the author: Joshua Varghese


Would gape at fast cars. Still does but now has a chance to drive some of them. Hates driving in traffic but makes up for with a spot of off-roading or the occasional track outing. Insta: @motoknight


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