Mercedes GLS review - Interior, design and technology
Cabin is well finished and packed with brilliant tech, but it doesn’t quite feel special enough for the price
While the BMW has gone for an imposing, borderline obnoxious look for its X7, the GLS looks fairly understated – or at least as understated as it’s possible for a 5.2-metre long SUV to be. It has lost the chunky, boxy shape of the previous version for an altogether sleeker design, while features like the grille, headlights and front bumper are reshaped to differentiate the face from the smaller GLE.
All versions ride on wheels measuring at least 22 inches, so while it could never be called pretty, the proportions do appear neat and clean. There’s nine exterior colours to choose from: the Emerald Green paint finish shown in these images is a particular highlight.
Inside, the GLS’s dashboard is lifted almost wholesale from the smaller GLE. The large central sweep of wood (or aluminium) trim houses the air vents, while above it there’s Mercedes brilliant twin 12.3-inch MBUX infotainment set-up. The interior is a lovely place to spend time, but for the brand’s top of the range SUV we would’ve liked a little more differentiation in design from the smaller car. As you’d imagine, the interior colour options are fairly subdued, ranging from blacks and browns to lighter beige upholstery.
Sat-nav, stereo and infotainment
The GLS uses Mercedes’s latest MBUX infotainment system, which here is made up of two 12.3-inch screens sitting side-by-side. The first screen, sat ahead of the driver, is a customisable display that shows driving information in a variety of layouts, and can also offer a mix of navigation and entertainment functions. These can be adjusted through touch sensitive controls mounted on the spokes of the steering wheel.
The second screen is the main infotainment unit. This shows the navigation functions in much greater detail and, thanks to touch-screen input, allows the driver to pinch and swipe across the map to both preview destinations and adjust the zoom. It’s also the location of the 360-degree camera’s display and, when equipped, the augmented navigation system, which superimposes live instructions onto images relayed from a forward-facing camera.
The system looks gorgeous and is easy to use. The home page is laid out in a tile-like format, and the large display makes the icons easy to read. While so many functions are controlled via the touchscreen, the climate functions are still adjusted by physical buttons below.
Rear seat passengers are catered for when it comes to tech, too. All versions of the GLS can be enhanced with a pair of 11.6-inch touch screens mounted on the back of the front seats, allowing middle row passengers to browse the web or watch a film.
In this review
- 1VerdictThe vast GLS delivers unbeatable practicality and wonderful refinement, but lacks the S-Class’s sense of occasion
- 2Engines, performance and driveThe GLS has a strong and refined diesel engine, while Mercedes-AMG models offer ludicrous petrol power
- 3MPG, CO2 and Running CostsThe GLS is a big, heavy car; even with a capable diesel engine it will cost a pretty penny at the pumps
- 4Interior, design and technology - currently readingCabin is well finished and packed with brilliant tech, but it doesn’t quite feel special enough for the price
- 5Practicality, comfort and boot spaceThe GLS is the most spacious posh seven-seater on the market – but its vast size will cause headaches on the road
- 6Reliability and SafetyA brilliant safety rating is all but guaranteed, but Mercedes ownership prospects are below average