Tested: Mercedes-Benz GLS350d

The enormous pick

Do you enjoy things on a large scale, like a house which can easily be converted to a hotel? You know, with guest toilets that could house a double bed. Are there areas of your property which you’ve never been to? If this describes your lifestyle, you either have or need to get a Mercedes-Benz GLS350d.

For anyone who’s confused right now, Mercedes re-aligned all its model names so that SUV’s and 4×4’s start with the letter G. This seven-seater GLS is the biggest of the lot (like an S-Class is the biggest sedan) and would previously have been denoted in the showroom sales brochures by the letters “GL”.

My notes for our week-long test of this pearly white GLS350d start with the word “Enormous” – with three e’s. That is purely the fault of this automobile’s crucial measurements including 5.13m length, 1.85m height and 2.14m width. It’s that last number which makes its presence felt in good and bad ways…

Good because even the largest individuals will find that they enjoy a big personal bubble in most GLS seats and bad when you find yourself in a congested one-way street with double parkers… Should you wish to park the gigantic Merc, make sure you find a generous garage and/or oversized bay.

Yes, all of that is taken directly from our experience with the supersized SUV. Is it possibly too big? Depends on where you live and what you want to do with it. If you have a big family, big dog, big bum and commute on wide multi-lane roads, the Mercedes-Benz GLS is a slightly hedonistic but wonderfully enjoyable car.

Because its extremities are half a mile from the driver’s seat, we recommend ordering every single parking aid with your new GLS. Despite its size, it is incredibly easy to pilot with light controls and impressive handling for its heft. Airmatic air suspension helps with various drive modes and lends a wallowing feel to proceedings.

Our test car provided an amazingly comfortable ride, even though it featured huge 21-inch AMG wheels as part of a package over and above the space-ship standard features. You can also specify an “Off-road Package” (N$26,000) with gear reduction, diff lock, underbody protection and other such adventurous goodies.

I’m not ashamed to admit that our off-road testing was confined to a mild sprinkling of dirt and ditches, thanks to the GLS350d’s base price of N$1,284,000. What we did test extensively was the 3-litre turbo-diesel V6 (190kW/620Nm) and new-ish 9-speed automatic gearbox. They were… umm, ok.

For something officially weighing 2,455kg, this GLS350d managed a semi-impressive 8.23 seconds from zero to 100km/h (Mercedes claims 7.8). Its in-gear and high-speed acceleration is less impressive and not helped by a gearbox which is hell-bent on economy but gets stroppy (or jerky) when reprimanded.

Engaging Sport mode remedies the situation but like all sporty settings it holds onto gears and revs too long. Performance doesn’t really improve much. If this all sounds too lethargic for you, we can advise either of its siblings – the GLS500 or GLS63 AMG. But only if you have more cash and a bottomless petrol card.

This 350d model is probably the pick of the bunch with hilarious passenger comfort, superbly luxurious specifications, mind-boggling optional extras, decent torque and acceptable thirst. Its maker claims an average of 7.6L/100km from the 100L tank and we managed, journey dependent, anything from 10 to 12.

For the V8 and AMG model, expect about double that consumption figure. Naturally, Mercedes-Benz throws in a great warranty and full maintenance plan with each GLS. That means many happy years of moving your big family about, possibly even off-road. Perhaps to that part of your property you’ve never been to?

Happy Snaps


0-10km/h: 0,42 seconds
0-20km/h: 0,88 seconds
0-30km/h: 1,33 seconds
0-40km/h: 2,00 seconds
0-50km/h: 2,68 seconds
0-60km/h: 3,61 seconds
0-70km/h: 4,54 seconds
0-80km/h: 5,70 seconds
0-90km/h: 6,92 seconds
0-100km/h: 8,23 seconds
0-110km/h: 9,97 seconds
0-120km/h: 11,75 seconds
0-130km/h: 13,67 seconds
0-140km/h: 16,11 seconds
0-150km/h: 18,79 seconds
0-160km/h: 22,07 seconds

0-100m: 6,74 seconds @ 88,64km/h
0-200m: 10,29 seconds @ 111,98km/h
0-300m: 13,29 seconds @ 128,07km/h
0-400m: 15,97 seconds @ 139,46km/h


0-10mph: 0,71 seconds
0-20mph: 1,51 seconds
0-30mph: 2,56 seconds
0-40mph: 4,00 seconds
0-50mph: 5,75 seconds
0-60mph: 7,75 seconds
0-70mph: 10,43 seconds
0-80mph: 13,42 seconds
0-90mph: 17,37 seconds
0-100mph: 22,50 seconds

1/4 mile: 16,03 seconds @ 86,80mph

100-0km/h: 3,08 seconds @ 39,41 metres (once-off)

Maximum acceleration G-force: 0,70G

Altitude: 60m

All data captured by Racelogic® Performance Box

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