2013 Mercedes GL-Class Is More Than a Luxury City SUV
The 2013 GL-Class retains its traditional advantages of being extremely responsive with outstanding off-road expertise
by John Clark | 27 July 2012
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In the SUV world, the new GL-Class is setting new standards in comfort, dynamics, safety, elegance and efficiency and with this spectrum it is regarded as the S-Class among off-road vehicles. This premium SUV is able to demonstrate its exceptional capabilities in everyday situations with dense city traffic, over very winding roads or on well-built motorways as well as way off the beaten track. Here the multi-talent’s qualities are even more evident. Whether driving over tracks with potholes, continually altering road surfaces or dusty natural trails interspersed with off-road sections – the superior comfort of the seven-seater’s ride as well as its outstanding power and confident performance are really convincing even when the going gets really tough.
Relaxed – and that means safe – driving both on-road and off-road – is one of the great strengths of the new GL-Class. Especially its NVH qualities (noise, vibration, harshness) are very convincing and are on a par with those of the S-Class. The high standards of comfort are derived from the combined result of a very rigid bodyshell, a perfected drivetrain, improved chassis and superb aeroacoustic finishing as well as the intelligent use of new-style insulation materials. At the same time, the GL-Class retains its traditional advantages of being extremely responsive with outstanding off-road expertise.
Included in the standard package are the fully load-bearing air suspension system AIRMATIC with its adaptive shock-absorbing system (ADS) as well as a load recognition feature. In comparison with the previous model, the AIRMATIC ADS provides outstanding comfort with greatly improved handling, roadholding and driving dynamics. For example, both the standard Crosswind Assist and load recognition feature are able to compensate for very varying driving conditions. The optional active tilting stabiliser ACTIVE CURVE SYSTEM uses its active lateral stabilisers for the front and rear axles to reduce the roll angle when driving round bends, thus providing a greatly improved response and more fun behind the wheel. At the same time, the system makes for better handling. An improved ride and increased scope when driving off-road by actively decoupling the stabilisers are among the other advantages of the ACTIVE CURVE SYSTEM.
Quick-change artist: the ON&OFFROAD package
The GL is really well-equipped for going on tours off the beaten track. The standard package also includes the permanent four-wheel drive 4MATIC, a driving-off assistant, the Downhill Speed Regulation DSR and a special program for off-road driving. The ON&OFFROAD package of the new GL-Class with its six driving programs has greatly improved the vehicle dynamics and driving safety so that the most suitable drive control for extremely varying driving conditions both on the road and going cross-country is always available. From the “hardware” point of view, the ON&OFFROAD package comprises an underrun protection for the engine, fibre-reinforced underfloor panelling, a two-stage power transmission with reduction gears, a longitudinal differential lock and extended AIRMATIC functions allowing a maximum ground clearance of 306 mm and fording depth of 600 mm.
Better visibility, more safety, greater comfort
When it is dark or visibility is poor, the Bi-Xenon headlamps with Intelligent Light System and new off-road light, adaptive Main Beam Assist or adaptive Night View Assist P lus provide sufficient visibility. The optional 360° camera has four cameras at front and rear as well as in the housing of the exterior mirrors– and is especially helpful in big city jungles. From the picture information received, the system calculates a bird’s eye view of the vehicle and its surrounding area and then relays it together with other views to the large COMAND display.
New Assist systems: The best support for the driver
Improved driving and stress-reduced safety for the new GL-Class is provided in particular by its numerous assistant systems. In addition to the handling control systems ESP®, ASR, ABS and the danger-alert PRE-SAFE® safety concept, for the first time the standard version of the GL is also fitted with the collision warner COLLISION PREVENTION ASSIST and the drowsiness detector ATTENTION ASSIST. Functions such as load recognition or STEER CONTROL reduce the strain on the driver in critical borderline driving situations as for instance by supporting the driver with a steering momentum on the steering wheel if the vehicle is oversteering. One innovation and highlight in the new GL is the standard Crosswind Assist which supports the driver with deliberate braking action when there are strong crosswinds, thus increasing the feeling of safety. Also available to optimise the safety of the vehicle are optional systems such as distance control DISTRONIC PLUS, braking assistant BAS PLUS or the PRE-SAFE® brake with its autonomous braking function in certain dangerous situations that have not been recognised by the driver . Easy parking is guaranteed with the Active-Park assistant. The system is able to detect suitable parking spaces and steers the GL automatically into the best possible position for parking.
GL-Class drive systems: Up to 20 per cent reduction in fuel consumption
Both the BlueTEC engine for the GL 350 BlueTEC 4MATIC and the GL 500 4MATIC BlueEFFICIENCY with supercharged direct injection BlueDIRECT petrol engine give extremely efficient and outstanding performances. The fuel consumption of the GL 350 BlueTEC 4MATIC is 7.4 litres diesel per hundred kilometres which is about 20 per cent less than its predecessor, and at the same time it undercuts the future EU 6 emission standards. The fuel consumption of the 320 kW (435 hp) strong petrol engine GL 500 4MATIC BlueEFFICIENCY has been reduced by 18 per cent. With the change of models the GL range is being enriched by an AMG version for the very first time. In the high-performance SUV GL 63 AMG, the AMG 5.5 litre V8 Biturbo engine provides a top performance of 410 kW (557 hp) and maximum torque of 760 Nm. The GL 63 AMG accelerates from zero to 100 km/h in 4.9 seconds; it has a top speed of 250 km/h (limited electronically). The NEFZ fuel consumption is 12.3 litres per 100 kilometres (288 g CO2/km).
Overview of the most important specifications*:
|Model||Cyl.||cm³||kW/hp at 1/min||Nm from 1/min||0-100 km/h (s)||Vmax km/h||l/100 km NEFZ estim.||CO2 g/km|
|GL 350 BlueTEC 4MATIC||6||2987||190/258 3800||620
|GL 500 4MATIC BlueEFFICIENCY||8||4663||320/435 5250||700
|GL 63 AMG||8||5461||410/557 5250-5750||760
* Specifications for the international range of models; these may vary depending on the country
In addition to the state-of-the-art engine technology, an extensive BlueEFFICIENCY package supports the outstandingly economic fuel consumption. This includes the new seven-gear automatic transmission 7G-TRONIC PLUS as well as the standard ECO stop-start function. The intelligent generator management, electric power steering and reduced rolling resistance of the tyres also have a fuel-saving effect.
In comparison with its predecessor (GL 350 BlueTEC 4MATIC), the weight of the new GL-Class has been reduced by 90 kg due to the extensive use of lightweight construction methods. These include the use of light but durable aluminium alloys for the bonnet and wings. The front and rear suspension links are also made of light alloys. This pays twice over: On the one hand the lower weight reduces energy requirements, and on the other hand the vehicle provides a more comfortable ride due to its lower unsprung mass. Other weight reductions are the new acoustic windscreen, the magnesium cross beam of the dashboard, the BlueTEC system with SCR technology or components such as the new electric power steering, the electric parking brake or a plastic engine support.
The interior of the GL: First Class for seven people
In addition to its extremely comfortable ride with excellent dynamic driving features both on the road as well as over very rough terrain, the GL-Class spoils its passengers with an interior which comes up to the first class standards of a luxurious saloon. Up to seven passengers are able to enjoy the outstanding seating. The elegant interior decoration is dynamic and full of vigour with high-quality materials and great attention has been paid to details; the generous space arrangement has a perfect ergonomic design – the interior of the GL-Class conveys the feeling of well-being typical for the Mercedes-Benz brand. Extensive trim elements in various kinds of wood or in aluminium, controls in silver-chrome and upholstery in permeable ARTICO man-made leather material with decorative topstitching on the seams in a contrasting colour underline the overall high-quality impression.
The 2-3-2 seating arrangement provides a generous amount of space. In comparison with its predecessor, the passengers have been given a great deal more elbow, shoulder and headroom in all three rows of seats. As a standard feature, the third row of seats can be folded down and up electrically. Another innovation is the EASY-ENTRY system for accessing the third row of seats from both sides – also if required with optional electric controls.
As another first for a series model SUV, Mercedes-Benz is offering an optional sound system for the GL-Class from the well-known manufacturers of music systems Bang & Olufsen. The Bang & Olufsen BeoSound AMG High-End Surround-Sound System with a total output of 1200 W and 14 high-end loudspeakers transforms the interior of the car into a concert hall with breathtaking acoustic.
Mercedes-Benz is the first car manufacturer to evaluate and assess the role of aeroacoustic which provides the decisive parameters for a comfortable ride especially when travelling at higher speeds. As a result, the psychoacoustic characteristics of SUV models like the GL-Class have been considerably improved. Here not only the high frequency wind noises were rated, but also the low frequencies – especially those concerning the comprehensibility and audibility of spoken language. A comparison with the S-Class proves just how successful the GL engineers were: the objective and subjective impression of noise lies at the same level for both vehicles. Because of its typical SUV design, however, it took a great deal more effort to achieve these top results with the GL than with a luxury saloon. Furthermore, the full-size SUV provides excellent acoustic for seven passengers sitting in three rows – and that under even the most unfavourable conditions as the off-roader can be used in a much wider variety of situations than the saloon including travelling in remote areas far away from sealed roads.
First Class design
Right at first sight, the GL-Class 2012 can be recognised as a typical member of the Mercedes-Benz SUV family. The new interpretation of the first generation is very impressive with its pronounced dynamic strength and sporting elegance. At the front, the design is dominated by the GL’s typically upright radiator grille with its central star and the clear, high-quality design of the headlamps – the new Mercedes-Benz LED signature. In particular, the standard Intelligent Light System headlamps on the GL 500 4MATIC BlueEFFICIENCY give a high-quality, exclusive and innovative impression. The difference lies in a light wave conductor for the position lights, LED technology indicators and the practical Night View Assist PLUS which is available as an option. The daytime running lamps, also in LED technology are integrated in a chrome clasp in the bumper and underneath the radiator grille the large underbody panel in chrome look rounds off the self-confident appearance of the front. The well-balanced proportions of the side view (length 5120 mm, height 1850 mm) and the long wheelbase (3075 mm) underline the vehicle’s on-road emphasis, but at the same time the short body overhang at front and rear together with the vehicle’s great ground clearance point to its suitability for off-road travel. The rear with its two-piece LED rear lamps using light wave conductor technology, a large roof spoiler, the bumper with its modern “wing design” and the large chromed area of the underbody panel complete its appearance as befits the social status of this luxurious full-size SUV. For the first time there is an extensive AMG exterior sport package available for those GL customers who find it increasingly important for their vehicle to have a sporting and dynamic appearance.
Passive safety: All-round protection for all passengers
Maximum protection potential is provided by the passive protection systems for passengers in conjunction with the “electronic crumple zone” provided by the assistant systems and the intelligent body construction. Adaptable two-stage airbags for the driver and front passenger, knee bags for the driver, sidebags for the driver and front passenger (combined thorax/pelvis bags) and window bags for all three rows of seats are part of the standard package. The integration of the optional thorax bags in the backrest of the tilt-adjustable folding seat in the middle row of seats allows the airbag to be in the best possible position regardless of the position of the backrest. Furthermore, there are 3-point seat belts for all seven passenger seats on board. Also part of the standard package are the pyrotechnical inertia reel tensioners and constant belt force-limiters as well as electrically reversible belt reel-in tensioners at the front, inertia reel tensioners and single stage force-limiters on the outer seats of the middle bench seat as well as on the rear single seats. The GL-Class also provides the best-possible protection with regard to weaker road users such as pedestrians and cyclists. Among other things, the standard active bonnet comes into action.
GL-Class rounds off the Mercedes-Benz SUV range
The first appearance of the new GL-Class is characterised by extensive standard equipment, individual equipment packages as well as attractive paintwork and high-quality interiors. There are three models on offer at the launch: the GL 350 BlueTEC 4MATIC with V6 diesel engine, the V8 petrol engine GL 500 4MATIC BlueEFFICIENCY and the new GL 63 AMG with V8 Biturbo petrol engine.
- GL 350 BlueTEC 4MATIC € 60,900
- GL 500 4MATIC BlueEFFICIENCY € 79,500
- GL 63 AMG € 109,500
*non-binding recommended price without VAT for the German market
Mercedes-Benz has the greatest variety of SUV models on offer in the premium segment. There are four product ranges to choose from in this global growth-orientated market. In addition to the First Class SUV GL, the compact GLK with its unmistakable character, the classic off-road model “G” and the best-selling M-Class complete the successful family. The sales figures are an indication of the popularity of the SUVs from the brand Mercedes-Benz. From January to May 2012 they achieved a new record in sales. Altogether 103,000 units were sold in this segment. The GL in particular showed a very positive development during the run-up to its new models. In the first five months of this year, more GL vehicles were sold than ever before during this period (14.8%)