The photo shows an aerial view of the Mercedes-Benz GLS on its drive through the Californian desert.

Inspiration

The new Mercedes-Benz GLS at large in the Californian desert.

It's the S-Class of the SUV world: jump in, buckle up and enjoy a first drive in the GLS!

Inspiration

The new Mercedes-Benz GLS at large in the Californian desert.

It's the S-Class of the SUV world: jump in, buckle up and enjoy a first drive in the GLS!

AIRMATIC: like driving on clouds.

The photo shows a three-quarter front profile view of the Mercedes-Benz GLS on its drive through the Californian desert.

AIRMATIC: like driving on clouds.

A country road 15 kilometres beyond Cahuilla Hills, a small town in the Californian desert. Travelling at almost 90 km/h, the GLS glides so smoothly over the numerous potholes in the road surface it's as if they weren't there. It's all thanks to the AIRMATIC air suspension, which adapts the suspension to suit the prevailing driving situation by causing the individual wheels to make their own automatic adjustments. With this technology the suspension can easily take any unevenness in the road surface in its stride.

Unlimited possibilities.

The photo shows a front view of the Mercedes-Benz GLS driving in the Californian desert.

Unlimited possibilities.

We turn off the state route into a small side road. The asphalt surface gradually gives way to sandy ground. Where the road is straight the driving experience initially remains as comfortable as ever; when we come to a section full of hairpin bends a little later we turn the DYNAMIC SELECT switch from 'Comfort' to 'Off-road'. The road is uneven, so we are all the more grateful for the ACTIVE CURVE SYSTEM. Its active roll stabilisation ensures greater ride comfort when cornering, even on the worst of roads.

And there's another impressive thing: despite its stately dimensions – our vehicle is over five metres long and weighs in at more than 2500 kg including driver and 60 litres of fuel – the GLS 500 4MATIC catapults us with ease out of the bends and up the hill without losing traction, thanks to its eight-cylinder biturbo engine and all-wheel-drive system.

GLS 500 4MATIC: fuel consumption, combined: 11.3–10.9 l/100 km; CO₂ emissions, combined: 264–255 g/kmThe figures shown for fuel consumption and CO2 emissions were obtained in accordance with the prescribed measuring methods (§2 Nos. 5, 6, 6a of the "Pkw-EnVKV" [German Ordinance on Fuel Consumption Labelling for Cars] as amended). The figures are not based on an individual vehicle and do not constitute part of the product offer; they are provided solely for purposes of comparison between different vehicle models. Figures will vary depending on the wheels/tyres.

V8 powerhouse.

V8 powerhouse.

We continue on the dusty track, passing a wind farm, the turbine blades motionless in the still air. We start to climb. The charge pressure of the two turbochargers increases. We climb the mountain to the impressive growl of the V8 engine, which boasts a maximum torque of 700 Nm between 1800 and 4000 rpm, and an output of 455 hp. As we ascend, the 9G-TRONIC Automatic Transmission smoothly shifts through the gears.

A ¾ rear view of the Mercedes-Benz GLS driving through the Californian desert.
The picture shows a rear view of the Mercedes-Benz GLS in action during the test drive in the Californian desert.
The picture shows a front view of the Mercedes-Benz GLS in off-road action during the drive through the Californian desert.

Dust, sand and freedom.

A ¾ front view of the Mercedes-Benz GLS driving through the Californian desert.

Dust, sand and freedom.

The GLS feels like an S-Class with off-road capability. Equipped with 4MATIC all-wheel drive, the vehicle covers easy terrain without once having to use ESP. Drivers who prefer the challenge of more extreme terrain will particularly enjoy the optional Off-road Engineering Package. It offers up to 262 mm ground clearance and the additional Off-road Plus transmission mode, which optimises the drive system for operation on loose ground. Manual gear shifting is advantageous in off-road conditions, and 'M' mode allows the optimum gears to be selected to tackle the climbs up ahead. Unfortunately as there are no rivers anywhere around here we can't put the vehicle's 600 mm fording depth to the test today – but we have total confidence in the ability of this luxury off-roader to cross a river.

A feeling of spaciousness.

The picture shows the driver's view of the interior of the Mercedes-Benz GLS.

A feeling of spaciousness.

The cloud of dust behind us slowly settles as we switch off the ignition and take a short drinks break. Our eyes take in the generously proportioned cockpit. Here too it's obvious why the successor to the GL is seen as the S-Class among SUVs: this interior meets all the expectations of the highest order of quality, with first-class craftsmanship down to the finest detail, from the high-grip, high-quality multifunction steering wheel in nappa leather down to the leather-covered dashboard and the comfortable leather seats. The crowning glory is the 8-inch colour media display screen of the COMAND Online system – which remains clearly legible even in bright sunshine. It all combines to create a feeling of spaciousness, comfort and luxury. In addition, the GLS has masses of room: thanks to intelligent features like a cargo position for the rear seat backrests, the load compartment offers a capacity of 680 litres, with a total possible maximum of 2300 litres. The GLS could easily be converted into a comfortable accommodation for a night under the stars in the California desert.

Impressive in all disciplines.

A 7/8 front view of the Mercedes-Benz GLS driving through the Californian desert.
The picture shows a ¾ front view of the Mercedes-Benz GLS in front of a mansion in California.

Impressive in all disciplines.

We drive back to Desert Palms via Palm Springs. Despite the desert surroundings there is a surprising amount of greenery here. Innumerable golf courses dot the region, the water for the lush vegetation being drawn from the Colorado River. After a quiet drive we turn into a driveway shaded by palm trees. Here the Active Parking Assist with PARKTRONIC proves its value: it automatically steers the vehicle accurately into the parking space, we just have to operate the gearshift, accelerator and brakes. We turn off the ignition. Our enthusiasm is undiminished: the GLS is an S-Class, an SUV and a powerful off-roader all in one; it satisfies a host of requirements and successfully marries all these disciplines into a harmonious whole.

The picture shows the Mercedes-Benz GLS as the sun sets on an off-road trail in the Californian desert.
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GLS 500 4MATIC: fuel consumption, combined: 11.3–10.9 l/100 km; CO₂ emissions, combined: 264–255 g/kmThe figures shown for fuel consumption and CO2 emissions were obtained in accordance with the prescribed measuring methods (§2 Nos. 5, 6, 6a of the "Pkw-EnVKV" [German Ordinance on Fuel Consumption Labelling for Cars] as amended). The figures are not based on an individual vehicle and do not constitute part of the product offer; they are provided solely for purposes of comparison between different vehicle models. Figures will vary depending on the wheels/tyres.