Car tested: 2011 Mercedes GL350 CDI BlueEFFICIENCY
Price OTR Mumbai: Rs. 86,70,278/-
The GL Class was mainly made for the American market, no prizes for to guessing that considering the humongous size of this vehicle and American passion for large sized cars. First made in 2006, it was first showcased at the 2006 North American International Auto Show. Though originally the GL was seen as a replacement for the G Wagon, Mercedes Benz decided to keep the G Wagon in its classic avatar and the GL was sold as a larger, 7-seater version to the M Class. We drive the Mercedes GL-Class and find out if size really matters.
Exteriors – The GL-Class has a aggressive stance with muscular looks. The front grille seats the 3 pointed star and large headlamp assembly houses the projector lamps. On either side of the air dam is the daytime running LED lights, which look classy in chrome surrounds. Side indicators come integrated with the external rear view mirrors while the hood gets vents for air intake. The roof is outlined by roof rails with a sunroof in the middle.
From the side profile, this SUV just goes on and on and on. 5 spoke alloy wheels highlight the side profile and the front and rear fenders outline the muscular looks.
The rear looks subtle with chrome inserts here and there giving a premium feel. Twin exhaust is again surrounded by chrome and reflectors are placed at the lower end of the bumper. Rear glass area is smaller in proportion to the size of the vehicle.
To just highlight the size, i have parked the GL next to a Hyundai Getz. The Getz looks like a toy next to the Mercedes.
Interiors – With size on its side, the GL is as spacious as it looks from the outside. Leather covered dash with beige interiors is captivating. Mercedes built quality is well known and the GL follows the same cues with accurate fit and finish. The front seats offer electric adjustment with lumbar support. Surprisingly, memory seats are omitted from the list of of goodies. Front seats are comfortable and have good all around back support and thigh support.
Power window switches are easily accessible. All the windows get the auto up/down feature.
The middle row on the other hand gets average thigh support but does well as far as the legroom and headroom is concerned. It can comfortably seat three people.
The last row is ideal for kids as legroom is bare minimum. For a SUV of this size, one does expect two adults to sit comfortably. The last row seats can be electrically folded to make more room in the boot. Two sets of buttons are provided, one in the boot and one near the c pillar on the drivers side.
MID screen serves as the display for the reversing camera. In case you manually switch off the audio system and slot into reverse, the display wont come up until you switch it on again. Ideally it should come on automatically once the car goes into reverse gear. However, even with the display off, the beeps will warn you if you get too close to the object behind.
Boot space is small but as mentioned the last row can be folded to make more room. 12 V charging point is provided in the left corner. Under the boot lies a 165/90/19 space saver.
Boot space can be enhanced further by folding the middle row seats.
Air conditioning is great as with all Mercedes cars and dual zone climate control is provided for the front seats. The middle row gets a vent on the center console and also on the roof. The last row gets vents only on the roof. Airmatic Suspension can adjusted by turning the know (lower left). Sound quality is great with the rear seats getting individual LCD screens. Bluetooth connectivity can be used to pair your phone with the car. Parking sensors can be toggled on/off as per the requirement, though it turns out to be of nuisance value in Indian driving conditions wherein pedestrians walk brushing the car and the system gets a headache beeping away to glory.
The last row windows can be electrically opened to about this much to allow some air.
Ride, Handling and Braking – The GL comes with mammoth 19 inch alloys and Dunlop 275/55 tyres. In the city, one can keep the suspension in the comfort mode and in this mode the GL will absorb most of the irregularities on the road and give you a composed ride quality. In the sports mode, the suspension stiffens up and gives you an punch in the handling department. Weighing about 2500 kgs, there is a fair amount of bodyroll but considering the size of this machine, handling is fair.
In off-roading conditions, the ground clearance can be increased (courtesy of Airmatic Suspension) to ensure it does not scrape its belly. For beginners, Airmatic suspension uses air filled struts instead of regular shocks. The height can be increased in 3 increments, based on the type of terrain (inclination etc). The smart thing is that once you hit flat ground and speed up, the GL will automatically reduce its ride height.
The GL is also equipped with DSR (Downhill Speed Regilation), which can be activated by the flick of a button on the centre console. Downhill speed can be regulated between 6 – 18 kmph. This feature is particularly useful while getting downhill and will prevent you from rolling down too fast. Again, once you are on a flat surface the DSR will automatically disengage.
All wheel drive or 4Matic in Merc speak along with airmatic suspension with 4 linked independent suspension bolted onto a subframe (at the rear) with lockable differentials ensures you will smoothly sail past the toughest of terrains.
We were particularly impressed by the braking characteristics of this giant. At any speed, dab the brake pedal gently and you will be amazed by the minimum braking distances. The pressure sensitive brake pedal does its job without too much play, no sponginess in the feel of the pedal at all. ABS, ESP and all four disc brakes aid in achieving such a phenomenal braking performance.
Performance – Powered by a 3 ltr, V6 engine, the GL produces 224 bhp of power at 3800 rpm and 510 nm of torque at 1600 rpm. The same engine delivers an exhilarating performance in the E 350 but its the weight of this mighty SUV (2.5 tonnes), which plays spoilsport with the power to weight ratio. Nevertheless, power is adequate and this SUV performs certainly better than the R Class we tested a few weeks ago. In the manual, rev limiter driving the GL crossed the 0 – 100 mark in 10.56 seconds.
Mated to this engine is the 7G tonic gearbox which is slick and effective but does take time between shifts. Paddle shifts provided for the spirited driver but the gearbox functions best in the D mode. Engine refinement deserves a special mention.
Even with a high centre of gravity, this SUV feels planted at high speeds and one has the confidence to push further. Any no point one feels a hint of instability. This can be attributed to the fact that the car lowers by 15 mm once it crosses 140 kmph, and again rises once the speed comes below the 140 mark. The GL can hit 200 kmph, with the first 160 coming in easy and the next 40 take some effort from the engine. On our test, the GL delivered a mileage of around 8 kmpl.
Conclusion – The Mercedes GL-Class is huge and fits in perfectly for a highway vehicle with its size compromising parking in the city. Its delivers a decent performance but at this price, one does expect more punch from the engine. Apart from this, there is really nothing to complain about. Its built quality, interior space, off road capabilities and above all, the ‘Star” on its grille make it an inviting prospect and the goodies it comes with, you have to consider the GL Class as a serious SUV.
* Road Presence
* Serious Off Roading Capability
Whats Not So Cool
* Too big for city
Mercedes GL-Class Specifications : –
* Engine: 2987 cc, V6, CDI
* Power: 224 HP @ 3800 rpm
* Torque: 510 Nm @ 1600 – 2800 rpm
* Transmission: 7GTronic with 4MATIC
* Top Speed: 210 kmph
* 0-100kmph: 9.5 seconds
* Fuel Consumption: 8 kmpl
* Fuel Type: Diesel
* Suspension: Airmatic with 4 Link Independant Suspension bolted to a subframe (rear)
* Tires: 275/55 R 19
* Brakes: All 4 Discs
* Safety: ABS, EBD, ESP, Airbags etc
Mercedes GL-Class Dimensions : –
* Overall length x width x height: 5099 mm X 1920 mm X 2100 mm
* Wheelbase: 3075 mm
* Turning Radius – 6.05 m
* Boot Volume: 620
* Fuel Tank Capacity: 100 litres (Reserve 13 liters)
* Kerb Weight: 2505 kgs