A full size luxury crossover produced by Mercedes Benz since 2006, the GL Class has three rows of seats for seven occupants. It is the flagship model of Merc’s SUVs league. It shares its monocoque body architecture with the ML Class and has 4-MATIC full-time four-wheel-drive system.
The first generation of this premium SUV made its debut in 2006 at the North American International Auto Show. It went on sale at the same time as Audi Q7 – its chief rival, and the competition was later intensified by the entry of BMW X5. By 2012 the GL was due for a mid life facelift and Merc launched a well revised second generation of this car. Internationally the SUV comes with both diesel and petrol engines but it’s only the popular GL 350 CDI Blue Efficiency that made its way to India.
Although the first generation of 350 CDI trim was also launched here in 2010, it had become too dated to be accepted in the premium SUV market. The German carmaker then launched the refreshed, second generation GL 350 CDI in 2013. For India, the GL is now assembled locally and this has helped to keep a smaller price tag for it.
It’s a 2987 cc V6 common rail diesel engine that drives the GL 350 CDI. It churns out a power of 255 bhp at 3600 rpm and has a peak torque 63.1 kgm at 1600-2400 rpm. While the second generation SUV is bigger in dimensions (than the older model), it is 50 kg lighter than its predecessor. This diesel powered GL has a 0-100 km/hour acceleration time of 8.9 seconds and its claimed top speed is 220 km/hour. Fuel efficiency ranges between 6.5 km/hour and 10.5 km/litre.
GL 350 CDI has been designed with intricate detailing and features that reflect its sporty character. The front grille stands out majestically with its two louvers and Merc star. And there is a solid chrome bar stretching across the first bumper. Bands of LED daytime running lights are integrated above the air intakes on sides. Headlamps with corona rings also have LEDs lined on their upper edges. Aluminium footboards with rubber pellets are fitted for easy ingress and exit out of this tall, bulky SUV. The standard tyre size with alloy wheels is 275/55 R19. Merc GL Class is tad boxy towards the rear but the flared wheel arches, the detailing below the tail lamps and a nicely chiselled bumper preserve its smart looks. The German engineers have used independent, double wishbone air springs at front and multi-link air springs at back.
Hop inside and you will be greeted by a well built cabin that oozes refinement. The dashboard is a bit similar to that of M Class and looks uncluttered. GL 350 CDI has its gear selector mounted along the steering wheel column and so the centre console has big, temperature controlled cup holders and a broad armrest. Touch of silver on the four spoke steering wheel, around the air con vents and the panel for COMAND screen buttons highlights the important features elegantly.
The wheelbase of 3075 mm has been transformed into a spacious and comfy cabin. Leather upholstered seats in each row provide ample comfort although tall passengers will not get adequate legroom in the third row of seats. A three zone climate control works well for this 7 seater car. The chief safety attributes list includes 7 airbags, ABS, ESP, traction control and well planned set ups in form of Intelligent Light System, Attention Assist and Mercedes PRE-SAFE.
350 CDI is the only variant available for the GL Class in India. It comes in non metallic Polar White and metallic Obsidian Black and Palladium Silver body paints. The price tag reads Rs 71.95 lakhs (ex showroom price Delhi).
This brawny but plush SUV has been ranked at # 2 in Top 10 Luxury Large SUVs listed by US News website. It also won Motor Trend SUV of the Year award 2007 and 2013.
If you love travelling in numbers and expect the best of comfort in a mild off roader, the GL Class is a good buy and has also become tad more affordable.