2024 Mercedes-Benz GLS review, road test - amped up on luxury
There are over 12,000 Mercedes-Benz GLS' on our roads. This number is astounding in a country that still has a way to go to reach its full potential as a luxury car market. The GLS has managed to do this fairly quickly, but with the luxury boom we're seeing more recently there's no time to rest easy. This is where this updated 2024 Mercedes-Benz GLS facelift comes in.
2024 Mercedes-Benz GLS Styling
With this update, Mercedes-Benz seems to have decided to not fix what isn't broken. The result is you have some minor but effective changes to the outside of the new GLS.
The most apparent of these is the bigger four-bar grille. Mercedes says it's inspired by the G-Class and it does seem to add a toughness to the GLS while keeping its rich look intact. This also goes quite well with the more detailed look of the new pixel LED lamps. Similarly, the new bumpers with their textured inserts and measured chrome adornments make the GLS standout but very in an especially flashy way.
The bodywork hasn't changed much so the GLS continues with its simple and stately look. So while you do have quite a committed stance with the heavy haunches and rounded bodywork, the glass area continues to be simple but effective. This new blue shade does its bit to further lift the look of the GLS. The 21-inch wheels maybe could have been a size larger but the alloy design is striking and the customary Mercedes footboards add to the look, even if they may not be the most effective.
The changes to the rear of the GLS are again minimal. You now have new light designs in the tailamps which with their horizontal look bring the GLS in line with newer Mercedes SUVs. They also enhance the sense of width of this already quite large SUV.
2024 Mercedes-Benz GLS interiors, practicality
The GLS gets a few more updates on the inside than outside. The general design and layout remain untouched, so you continue to have that unique ridged flat panel to house the dual 12.3-inch screens. This section works quite well with the way the dash wraps around you and with the flowing lower section. As is unique to these big Mercedes SUVs, the four central vents add to the elegant feeling here.
But really it's the choice of colours and materials in this updated GLS that genuinely set it apart with a plush, lounge-like feeling. You now have Maybach-themed black wood with pinstriping, more chrome around the vents and switches as well as a neat new shade of brown for the upholstery.
The effect of these is that you really do feel like you are in an SUV from a class above. The quality and textures of these fitments help too. The wood has a smooth finish to it, the metallic bits feel hefty and there are soft materials everywhere. This older Mercedes layout is also far more intuitive in our books. You have tactile controls for the climate, as well as physical redundancies for the screens.
The screens too have been updated to the latest MBUX version, so it's especially easy to control functions through here. Sadly, that also means you get the new steering wheel from the S-Class with its capacitive panels and their fiddly operation. However, time behind the wheel makes it somewhat better.
2024 Mercedes-Benz GLS second-row, third row seating
Those who like to be driven around will be impressed by the new rear-seat comfort package that the GLS now comes with. You'd think captain's chairs would be the best way to go but fold down the extended centre armrest, and you realize this bench arrangement is more than up to the job of ferrying you around in some serious luxury. There are a few small storage spaces, a wireless charger and a 7-inch removable tab incorporated into this that controls most of the car's amenities. Further, you get two 11.6-inch screens that offer similar functions but also entertainment.
As for the seats themselves, you have dense and supportive cushioning for your back and thighs with the soft head pillows being a neat addition. The protruding central console and high tunnel do compromise space for the middle passenger, further not helped by the contouring being more focused on the outboard passengers. But for these passengers, there is more good news. There are powered reclining and sliding functions as well as control over the front passenger seat. So while you don't get footrests there are also powered blinds, making the experience close to that of a full-blown limousine.
But this does come at the cost of usability in the third row. Sure, the powered controls make ingress/egress here fairly straightforward but this is best considered a space for shorter journeys or for children. The extended centre armrest can limit the amount of legroom you can free up for the third row which combined with the tall bench can limit legroom. That said, the seats themselves are quite supportive and come with a recline function too. There are charge ports here but unintuitively the fifth climate zone for this space can only be controlled from the front touchscreen.
2024 Mercedes-Benz GLS features, safety
The Mercedes-Benz GLS is suitably well-equipped for an SUV of its price. You get acoustic glass, soft-close doors, wireless Android Auto/Apple Carplay, ambient lighting, 13-speaker Burmester audio, heated and ventilated front seats, seat kinetics, air purifier, panoramic sunroof, powered steering adjustment and connected tech.
There is a suite of level 2 ADAS functions but notably Mercedes-Benz India has heeded feedback and you can now completely turn off the quite sharp emergency braking function. There are front, side and knee airbags, 360-degree cameras and a transparent bonnet function for off-road use. The cameras are useful but could have offered a few more views to navigate tight traffic.
2024 Mercedes-Benz GLS driving impressions, off-road
The Mercedes-Benz GLS now gets engines with mild-hybrid assistance. Seen here is the GLS 450 powered by a 3.0-litre turbo-petrol with an electric supercharger thrown in. So you have 386PS and 500 Nm with the mild-hybrid system adding up to 20PS and 200 Nm. Pairing with this is a nine-speed automatic as well as AWD.
You don't get a sport mode, but wring out the motor and you come away surprised with the performance that's on offer. We managed a 0 to 100 kmph time of 5.7s and most of this seems to be due to a big gush of performance that is on offer in the higher reaches of the rev-band. In these situations, the gearbox too is on the money, putting in confident shifts to get more of the power to you.
But in calmer driving, there could be better cohesion between the various components of this motor. Your chauffeur will have to deal with this usually but you see that in stop-start traffic the GLS can feel a bit hesitant where the compressor and mild-hybrid system haven't woken up it. This also shows in medium throttle situations where the gearbox takes a while to get you to the powerband.
But drive smoothly and the GLS does that Mercedes thing of calmly flowing along the road with confidence. So highway cruising is an undisturbed experience, especially with how impressively quiet and refined this motor is, helped by the double-glazed glass.
The GLS rides on air springs with adaptive dampers. With this, you don't especially notice smaller ruts and cracks, the GLS handling these with that typical solid, flowing demeanour that feels so luxurious. But sharp speed breakers and deeper potholes do judder through into the cabin which we think could have been better controlled. Either way, this fades away at higher speeds, adding to the confident feeling here.
With the quite clear focus on comfort, the GLS isn't that keen on taking corners too hard. Keep reasonable speeds and, while there is some lean, the GLS flows through securely enough. Things only get twitchy if you push harder. The steering feel is fairly low effort and with this fluid heft that we like in Mercedes cars. But we think it could have been better tuned, as you turn in there's a degree of inconsistency here that we couldn't get used to in our time with the car. A special mention is needed for the GLS' braking. It's especially confident, the 100 to 0 kmph distance of 35.4m is one of the best we've seen for anything this large.
We also came away pleasantly surprised by the GLS' capability in the rough road. On a mild trail, but still the kind that will hardly see a GLS, the off-road mode was quite effective. It slackens off the stability systems and dulls down the throttle response in just the right way to give you better control. The suspension raises itself to a good enough height for effective approach and departure angles.
2024 Mercedes-Benz GLS price, verdict
Priced at Rs 1.57 crore, on-road, for the GLS 450, this Mercedes is pricey for its segment. In this context, we would have liked a driving experience that was more cohesive but this may not be a bother for many of you. The GLS' strength is that it looks the money on the outside, and punches higher on the inside. The ambience and amenities in the first and second rows should be enough to continue to see this be a popular choice.
2024 Mercedes-Benz GLS real-world mileage, performance
0 to 100 kmph - 5.7s
30 to 50 kmph - 1.4s
50 to 70 kmph - 1.2s
60 to 80 kmph - 1.2s
100 to 0 kmph - 35.4m, 2.7s
City - kmpl
Highway - 10.8 kmpl
Overall - kmpl
Starts Rs 99.9 Lakhs
Starts Rs 42.1 Lakhs