2024 Mercedes-Benz GLS facelift review: Big in size, bigger on luxury

    With more equipment and more power, the GLS takes the Mercedes-Benz experience a notch higher.

    Published on Jan 07, 2024 11:30:00 AM


    Model : GLS
    We Like
    • Impressive road presence
    • Spacious and luxurious interior
    We Don't Like
    • Ride quality could have been better
    • No captain chair option for middle row

    This generation of the Mercedes-Benz GLS has been a strong seller on account of its size and immense road presence, as well as its palatial interiors and ability to ferry up to seven occupants in comfort and style. To freshen its appeal and meet the demands of discerning customers, the GLS has undergone a mid-life makeover. Cosmetic enhancements, a longer features list, and updated petrol and diesel engines are part of this refresh.

    Mercedes-Benz GLS exterior

    Nothing beats the GLS when it comes to attracting attention, and in a good way. It all starts with the prominent, almost oversized three-pointed star emblazoned on the grille. That sets the tone for the design of the facelifted GLS, which also benefits from subtle tweaks to the sheet metal.

    The GLS' sheer size and road presence are second to none.

    The horizontally slatted grille is finished in silver, the LED headlamps and tail-lamps are new, and the front bumper has been restyled. And while changes to its exterior are limited, that is no bad thing as it is still dressed to impress. Its commanding presence and air of regality will inspire admiration and respect from other road users.

    Mercedes-Benz GLS interior and features 

    Subtle styling revisions to its interior further add a dose of freshness. Our test car wore a brown and black scheme, but the GLS is also available with all-black or beige and black interior colour options. Lacquered wood trims on the dashboard, doors and central console are replaced by smart-looking gloss black panels with silver pinstripes, and it sports Maybach-style air vents too. The other prominent change is a new steering wheel with a mix of touch-operable and physical buttons that are quite easy to operate on the move.

    The pinstripes on the dashboard and the AC vents bring in some Maybach influence.

    Like before, the GLS features a twin-screen layout, but the infotainment has been upgraded with the very latest software to enhance its touch sensitivity and includes wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. It also gets new off-road screens which include the very cool invisible bonnet function that stitches an image of what’s beneath the car with the help of front and side cameras to assist the driver while traversing treacherous terrain. The plus-sized seats remain as comfy and accommodating as they were before, and adding to comfort this time around is the inclusion of seat ventilation and heating for the front chairs.

    The invisible bonnet function is a cool touch. 

    Its footboard is fixed, and you will need to step on it to climb into the GLS. The first thing you will appreciate in the middle row is the sheer space on offer and there’s plenty to pamper the rear occupants. The middle row bench reclines and slides electrically, and there’s also a new boss function to push the front passenger seat forward with the help of a button, for maximum stretching room. A middle passenger, however, won’t feel welcome as the large AC console eats into their knee room, thus making its bench seat suitable for two adults. This makes you question why Mercedes didn't introduce a captain chair option for the middle row like the BMW X7, even more so because it sells this option in international markets.

    The middle row is very comfortable, but is best suited for two adults only. 

    With this facelift, the rear seat package comes standard, which includes soft pillows on the headrest, twin rear entertainment screens as well as a tablet (housed in the armrest console) to control these and the infotainment screen. While the high-resolution rear screens are likely to keep the occupants seated in the back entertained on a long drive, their placement, on the front seatback, make them feel a bit intrusive as they rob the sense of space on offer.

    There's a tablet housed in the armrest to control the infotainment.

    Getting into the third row is quite effortless, albeit a slow process, as the electrically operable middle row seats fold and slide forward in an unhurried manner. While head and footroom are in abundance, even for full-size adults, the kneeroom is tight. But, with some adjustment of the middle row, even adults can easily sit here for long drives. An individual air-con setting (fifth-zone climate control) for the last row, and large window areas ensure occupants here don’t feel hemmed in.

    Even adults can sit comfortably in the third row with some adjustment of the middle row.

    At 355 litres, the boot offers a generous cargo area even with all rows in place. For added flexibility, you can fold the last and middle row flat (almost) to free up a whopping 1,470 litres of cargo area.

    Mercedes-Benz GLS performance

    In ‘450’ guise, the petrol GLS carries forward the 3.0-litre 6-cylinder (twin scroll) turbo-petrol, but it gets a small power bump and now produces 381hp (versus 367hp of the outgoing car). The torque output of 500Nm remains unchanged. It feels strong and responsive from the get-go, and makes light work of hauling this near-2.5 tonne SUV around. And when you spin this motor hard, it feels quite eager and even emits a very likeable, raspy note at higher revs.

    Performance is brisk even though it weighs nearly 2.5 tonnes.

    Working in conjunction with the engine is a new mild-hybrid system that provides an additional boost of 20hp and 200Nm under heavy load. On paper, the older mild-hybrid system gave the engine a healthier thrust of 250Nm, however, performance numbers in the real world reveal a different story. In our tests, the GLS 450 petrol hit 100kph from a standstill in just 6.23 seconds, nearly a second quicker than the outgoing version, and even rolling acceleration times from 20-80kph and 40-100kph follow a similar trend. The 9-speed automatic does a good job of transmitting the power to the wheels without any unwarranted hesitation or jerks.

    Mercedes-Benz GLS Acceleration figures
    New GLS 450Old GLS 450
    20-80kph (in kickdown)3.76s4.35s
    40-100kph (in kickdown)4.78s5.33s

    The cabin experience is rather hushed, and the GLS does well to isolate passengers from road and ambient sounds thanks to its laminated glass with an acoustic film in addition to all the sound deadening measures.

    The GLS provides a very hushed and isolated experience to its passengers on the move. 

    Like before, the GLS rides on air suspension with a clear focus on comfort. It gobbles up smaller potholes and cushions occupants from road shocks rather well, despite the 21-inch wheels. There is, however, a fair bit of suspension movement and the ride is not as settled as we would have liked; at cruising speeds, it tends to feel floaty and wallowy. We would have liked a Sport mode for highway drives, not for stronger engine performance but for a stiffer suspension setting in order to reduce body movements. Sadly, there are only Comfort and Eco modes on offer.

    Although very comfortable, the GLS feels floaty at high speeds.

    Its light steering makes the drive quite effort-free. The GLS also features a host of autonomous driver assistance systems (ADAS) such as autonomous emergency braking (AEB), blind spot assist, lane keeping assist as well as adaptive cruise control. The AEB, however, like all other modern cars from Mercedes, is simply too sensitive for our congested traffic conditions; it aggressively slams onto the brakes, which could result in a rear-end collision.

    Mercedes-Benz GLS price, verdict

    Sharper driving manners and a captain seat option for the middle row would have been nice additions with this update. However, buyers will tend to overlook these shortcomings for the sheer appeal that the Mercedes badge as well as the GLS exerts. 

    At Rs 1.32 crore (ex-showroom), the facelift gets more equipment and more power than before, which takes the ‘Mercedes-Benz’ experience a notch higher. The GLS delivers all that’s expected from a luxury SUV, from road presence to a luxurious interior, an expansive features list to strong performance, and it continues to make a compelling case for itself.

    Also See:

    2024 Mercedes-Benz GLS facelift video review

    Tech Specs

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    The Mahindra XUV 300 facelift will be called the XUV 3XO. Should more brands rename models for facelifts?

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