Land Rover Discovery 4 vs Mercedes GL350

6 Aug, 2013 11:00am

Land Rover Discovery 4, Mercedes GL350 - which will rule the SUV luxury class?

You don’t need a crystal ball to realise that the large MPV of the future will be SUV-shaped. With the traditional MPV market in freefall and sales of SUVs booming, manufacturers are going the extra mile to add seven-seat practicality to their cars.

Thanks to adventurous looks and the ability to venture into the unknown, sport utility vehicles are the perfect machines for family buyers wanting to make the most out of life.

Mercedes hopes that its latest large SUV – the second-generation GL-Class – will tap into the growing market for premium seven-seaters. The newcomer replaces the 2006 original, and hits the UK this month promising lower running costs, improved practicality and an array of tech and gadgets.

But if the GL is to be a success in the UK, it’ll need to see off one of the most impressive all-rounders on the 4x4 market – the Land Rover Discovery 4. As with the Mercedes, it comes with a third row of seats as standard, plus a raft of engineering innovations designed to keep everyone aboard safe and entertained.

Yet while the multi-award-winning Discovery is still a great package, it’s far from the newest kid on the block. Can the GL steal its thunder? Read on as we reveal all...


If space for seven, luxury and all-season ability are at the top of your wish-list, both these cars get the job done with a fair degree of style.

The new GL is a marked improvement over its lumbering predecessor. Mercedes has done impressive work in making it leaner, cleaner and more enjoyable to drive. 

It’s the more convincing seven-seater of the two, and if you crave the premium finish that comes with the three-pointed star, it’s also the more luxurious choice. Factor in the lower running costs and wider range of gadgets, and you have an extremely convincing package. However, despite eclipsing the Discovery on a couple of fronts, it doesn’t take victory here.

The GL’s biggest downfall is its price. At £59,485 for the basic car, it faces an uphill struggle against the gadget-laden Discovery HSE. The fact that Mercedes has reserved so much must-have equipment – such as metallic paint and real leather trim – for the options list only serves to widen the gap in terms of value for money. 

So victory goes, once again, to the Land Rover Discovery. As with a striker nearing the end of his career, the British 4x4 still has enough flashes of brilliance to run rings around younger opposition.

Land Rover Discovery 4

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I cant believe that Mercedes think they can charge so much than the Discovery especially when all those extras cost stupid money. Only fools part with their hard earned money would buy the Mercedes and its inferior in most of the main catogaries,what has happened to Mercedes I ask they dont even rate in reliability or build any more

I think if you read it, it was actually better in all catogaries apart from one price! So i think you will find only a fool will read an article then make stupid comments.

This is a joke, right? Auto Express seems to be the master of comparing vehicles from two different classes, generations etc... Every other comparison I have seen puts the GL up against the RR products. Next time compare a Dacia people carrier with the Discovery, end up with the Disco winning in every category and then declare the Dacia the winner due to its price. Someone in your editorial department needs a coffee.

Why buy the GL when the best car is far cheaper, at the end of the day a lot of people still want the best priced car, and with the far superior off roading ability (not that people use it that much) and a better looker (IMHO). The Land Rover wins hands down.

Pointless article anyway, didn't even mention off road.

I am exactly the target market for these two vehicles. We have five children aged 7-17 and we regularly drive up rough, unsealed NZ ski access roads that require 4WD. I tow a boat in summer so 7 seat SUV is ideal. I've driven both of these vehicles and they are competitors. When you compare these two vehicles side by side the Mercedes GL has slightly better performance, slightly better fuel economy, is better finished inside, has more room inside for passengers and luggage, would be safer in an accident and has a better reputation for reliability. The Discovery would ultimately be better off road but only in extreme situations so this is irrelevant even for my needs. The only real advantage of the Discovery is that it is cheaper. If they were the same price then the GL would win the comparision test.

Hi David. You mentioned safety as being better in the Merc. I am unsure why, as safety ratings are flawed. I would think the Disco would be as safe in a real world accident, if not better. They are so strong and solid.Try this for safety ratings, and see how a Merc went:

Overall I would take the Disco any day. The article above is disappointing though, as mentioned by others. It's like they simply ran them round the block, then took a quick look inside.

d79m interesting conclusion still think the Discovery is the better product as do many others haven,t LR just taken on more production staff to keep up with demand ? I,m not sure re Mercedes on that one can you enlighten me ?

Can't believe how bias the British car mags are - no matter if it's a Jag, Land/Range Rover or Aston, it always wins despite numerous flaws - if you read any other (unbias) car mags from anywhere else in the world you can see completely different results. This is embarrassing - the rest of the world is laughing at us and our comparison test..... Come on, who really thinks that that ancient Land Rover can beat the superior Merc, this test is a joke!

I was wanting to look at the fact and figures of this comparison, this is what comes up?
'You are not authorized to access this page.'
Any idea's why?

The Mercedes GL is a new body design and Mercedes have a far larger budget to spend on safety testing and safety systems than Land Rover does. The Discovery 4 is a face lift of the Discovery 3, essentially the same body design, so it is a much older vehicle. They both weigh about the same - about 2600kg depending on specs.

I'm also very surprised at the poor performance of the GL350 in this test. Mercedes quote 7.9 seconds to 100kph (62mph) compared to Land Rover's quoted time of 9.3 seconds. This GL350 was much slower than in other road tests. New Zealand Autocar recorded 8.2 s to 100kph for the GL350 and Car and Driver recorded 0-60mph of 7.5 seconds for their GL350.

You British are still fooling yourselves and will not learn to make good & economical engines which are the must to be successful in international markets.

I think this is the first review I've read that indicates what we all knew, that privacy glass ruins the looks of a vehicle. I've noticed a few of the new LR products supplied to the press recently don't have it..and they all look far better for it.
(I'm assuming this write up is the same as the one in the magazine - I'm not authorised to view the details of the one on here, apparently)

That's just so naive, I usually pick up local car mags in airports when I'm flying home and their bias is often much worse.

There was no mention of off road in this extremely succinct space padding article, probably because they know, as every knows that the LR is going to be so far ahead in the defining function of a 4WD SUV that there is no need to mention.

Anyway, don't take it seriously, it's throwaway journalism.