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New Mercedes GLS 2023 facelift: powertrain, technology and design

Mercedes’ large luxury SUV gets updated inside and out for 2023

Having launched in 2019, the current generation GLS is ripe for a facelift - which is exactly what Mercedes has just done. The firm’s range-topping SUV has received a host of exterior tweaks, along with new engines and updated technology. 

Mercedes’ SUV line up has been through plenty of revisions in the past year, with the all-new GLC, and facelifted versions of the GLB, GLA and GLE now the GLS flagship has had the same treatment. The luxury-focused Mercedes GLS will once again go up against the likes of the BMW X7, Audi Q7, Porsche Cayenne and the Range Rover in its updated guise. 

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While it might not be the biggest-selling Mercedes SUV, as the firm manoeuvres to become a more premium brand, the GLS is more important than ever. Along with the facelift of the standard GLS, Mercedes-AMG has also worked on its hot 63 model and Maybach has revealed its ultra-luxurious variant as well. 

Mercedes-Benz GLS: new exterior design 

Starting with the standard model, we can see the Mercedes GLS has been given a mild exterior redesign. The radiator grille now features four louvres and the surround has been tweaked too. The front bumper has new style air intakes, finished in gloss black. Mercedes has admitted most GLS drivers rarely go off-road but even with this in mind the SUV’s underguard has been redesigned and 30mm more ground clearance has been added. 

At the side there’s not much difference except for a new set of 20-inch alloy wheels being made available (21-, 22- and 23-inch rims are on offer depending on the trim level). The rear light signature has also been reshaped, now with three independent blocks. 

Interior and tech

Mercedes has set about the interior of the GLS too, making sure it's not only up to date with the S-Class but also Mercedes’ range of luxury EQ models. There’s no ‘Hyperscreen’ as seen in the electric EQS SUV or even the new ‘Superscreen’ from the E-Class. Instead, it’s the same pair of 12.3-inch displays seen on the pre-facelift GLS. There is the latest MBUX infotainment system, however, with a new customisable look for the displays, settings range from ‘classic’ and ‘sporty’ to ‘discreet’. 

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Despite the focus on luxury, Mercedes has given the GLS an ‘Off-Road Mode’ which offers readouts on gradient and lateral incline, a compass and steering angle display to help with off-roading - although this will also help with tight urban areas. The standard-fit ‘Parking Package’ includes a 360-degree camera which allows for a ‘transparent bonnet’ effect on the screen - similar to the one found on Mercedes’ own GLC and the Land Rover Defender. Should you use your GLS for towing, there’s an impressive 3.5-tonne capacity and the bicycle carrier support can accommodate up to 100kg - meaning e-bikes can be fitted.

With this facelift, Mercedes has given the cabin of the GLS additional features like a new steering wheel with touchpad controls and a revised voice assistant service (you don’t need to activate it by saying “Hey Mercedes”). Further options include ‘multi-seat entertainment’ with rear screens, two more USB ports on the centre console and a more intensive cabin air filter system. 

Mercedes-AMG GLS 63 model

With a slightly more emphasis placed on performance, AMG has reworked its offering based on the GLS. The Mercedes-AMG GLS 63 comes with a bespoke body kit, a unique rear light design and an AMG emblem instead of the Mercedes three-pointed star at the front. There are also two new colours available on the AMG model. Red brake calipers, AMG-specific puddle lights, and a range of alloy wheels, from 21-inch to 23-inch are available as well. Mercedes says when the GLS 63’s front doors open, the car plays an AMG-specific light animation. 

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As for the interior, the GLS AMG model receives nappa leather-upholstered seats with a new colour scheme of brown and black or beige and black added. The MBUX infotainment system includes AMG-specific menu layouts and functions to differentiate it as the sportier model. An electric panoramic sunroof, heated and vented front seats, adaptive headlights, AMG’s performance exhaust system, an upgraded sound system, 360-degree parking pilot and keyless-go are all standard on the AMG. The GLS 63 also features a bespoke AMG steering wheel along with a head-up display with an augmented-reality readout. There’s even temperature-controlled cupholders for your beverages. 

The AMG model’s air suspension has been tweaked with the facelift to allow for more precise cornering plus increased comfort thanks to a new active roll stabilisation system.

Mercedes-Maybach GLS

Now Maybach is officially a part of Mercedes we’re going to see more Mercedes cars wear the double-M badge. The Maybach GLS will be revived with new vertical chrome bars in the radiator grille and “Maybach” lettering. The air intakes at the front have a Maybach pattern and chrome surround. The Maybach sits on bespoke 23-inch forged wheels.

Inside, there’s ambient lighting with Mercedes-Maybach logos and various parts of the upholstery are covered in perforated, diamond-pattern quilting. Exclusive colour combinations for the cabin include white and silver along with brown and beige.  

Mercedes-Benz GLS: powertrain and performance

Mercedes hasn’t said which GLS engines will come to the UK but the current 400 d diesel will not be carried over into the new model. That’s because there are two diesel engines now, a GLS 350 d and GLS 450 d. These engines are 3.0-litre six-cylinder units with 313bhp and 367bhp respectively. As with all GLS models, Mercedes’ 4MATIC all-wheel drive system is standard. 

The GLS also has two petrol offerings - the GLS 450 with 381bhp and the GLS 580 with 517bhp. While the 450 uses a six-cylinder petrol, the 580 has a 4.0-litre V8. These two specifications of engine weren’t available on the outgoing GLS so we’ll see if they’re added on the new car in the UK market.  

The Maybach model gets a variant of that V8 with 557bhp. The Maybach gets the moniker ‘Mercedes-Maybach GLS 600’ to help it stand out as the more exclusive model. Despite the extra power, it’s a tenth slower to 62mph than the 580, taking 4.2 seconds to complete the sprint. 

As for the Mercedes-AMG GLS 63, it’s unsurprisingly the most powerful and quickest of the lot with 612bhp. This is thanks to its 4.0-litre, twin-turbocharged V8 which now features hybrid technology for the first time. It’s a 48-volt electrical system with a 22bhp boost function, recuperation of the battery, along with engine off coasting and start/stop restarting. 

Pricing for the new GLS hasn’t been revealed but with the extra equipment across the range and new powertrains we expect a hefty increase over the current car’s £88,705 price when it hits showrooms later this year. 

Now read our list of the best luxury SUVs to buy...

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Senior news reporter

A keen petrol-head, Alastair Crooks has a degree in journalism and worked as a car salesman for a variety of manufacturers before joining Auto Express in Spring 2019 as a Content Editor. Now, as our senior news reporter, his daily duties involve tracking down the latest news and writing reviews.

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