Mercedes GL-Class review
The Mercedes GL-Class blends incredibly refined and comfortable on-road dynamics with a hugely spacious cabin
The Mercedes GL is essentially a seven-seat version of the M-Class with a hugely spacious, upmarket cabin and a high price-tag to match. As of 2012 it's set to be replaced by an all-new model but it can still impress with its extremely comfortable air suspension and incredible refinement. It's in dire need of more efficient engine options and a healthy dose of updated gadgets in the interior as it's beginning to feel old and is incredibly costly to run.
Our pick: Mercedes GL350 CDI
There's no escaping the sheer size of the GL-Class, or its age either. It still looks classy and subtle but Mercedes will be replacing the GL late in 2012 with a more modern and up-to-date design. LED daytime running lights, lashings of chrome and huge alloy wheels all help with the premium feel. The cabin design still feels upmarket and relatively modern but a few of the technologies are in need of an update.
Mercedes offers the GL-Class with two different engines – a 3.0-litre V6 diesel in the GL350 and a 5.5-litre V8 petrol in the GL500. The latter boasts incredible performance for such a large car, with a 0-62mph time of 6.5 seconds. The GL350 CDI is the sensible choice for its fuel economy but it's reasonably fast and refined too, boasting a 0-62mph time of 7.9 seconds. Fitted with Mercedes' excellent Airmatic suspension as standard, the GL is not only highly refined, but has a very relaxing ride. Even more impressive for a vehicle that weighs nearly two-and-a-half-tonnes is the body control. It feels solid and stable, and the air suspension maintains great composure in corners. The steering is smooth and progressive but not exactly geared towards sports car handling.
Euro NCAP hasn't tested the GL-Class but it comes with a whole host of safety systems and airbags that would most likely lead to it receiving a five-star rating. Pre-Safe, ABS and ESP will all help keep you out of trouble while driver, passenger and side airbags will all minimise injuries in an accident. Reliability has been pretty solid since the GL was introduced in 2006 so buyers should have a pretty hassle free ownership experience.
The Mercedes GL is such a huge car (11cm longer than a Range Rover) that it boasts a really spacious cabin too. It's a seven-seater as standard but even with all those seats in place there's still a usable 300-litre boot. The rearmost seats fold flat electronically making increasing the load area a breeze. If you fold down the second row of seats there's a van-like 2,300-litre boot. The problem with having such a large car is that it is difficult to park and negotiate around tight city streets.
The diesel 350 CDI is definitely the one to go for if you're keeping an eye on running costs but it's still going to cost you a fair bit to run. Fuel economy stands at 30.7mpg and CO2 emissions can be as high as 254g/km. For the petrol-powered by GL500 fuel economy worsens to 20.8mpg and CO2 emissions are in the highest road tax bracket at 322g/km. No doubt filling up that 100-litre fuel-tank will always be an unpleasant experience and the insurance will be in the top group too.