Mercedes-Benz has unveiled a new highlight in the luxury Sports Utility Vehicle market segment: the GL-Class. The seven-seat premium off-roader offers excellent handling both on and off-road and pampers occupants with its extremely spacious accommodation with the comfort of a luxury saloon. The GL-Class sets another milestone with PRE-SAFE®, the comprehensive safety system, a first in this market segment.
With its poised, assured presence, the GL-Class leaves you in no doubt about its aspirations to conquer this competitive market segment. The distinctive, striking design exudes power and exclusivity. Calm body surfaces, powerful, wedge-shaped features and striking details give the impression the luxury off-roader is surging forward even when stationary. The spacious body (length 5088 mm, width 1920 mm, height 1840 mm) is beautifully proportioned.
The welcoming interior with its top-quality materials provides passengers with that typical Mercedes feel-good atmosphere, with more than ample space for up to seven passengers. The GL-Class offers superb comfort on board – whether you’re just popping into town, cruising hundreds of miles or negotiating rough terrain. Occupants still enjoy good freedom of movement even on the two full-sized individual seats in the third row of seats. The distance to the middle row of seats is 815 mm, with 979 mm headroom for passengers. If you need fewer seats, the rear individual seats can be stowed electrically at the push of a button, either individually or in tandem to provide a completely flat load surface. In the five-seater version, luggage compartment capacity is 1240 litres – an impressive benchmark value in the class. The GL-Class can provide up to 2300 litres of load capacity, with the load compartment measuring 2128 mm in length. In line with the wide range of applications handled by the versatile all-rounder, the automatic climate control system fitted as standard in the GL 320 CDI provides consistent temperature for all seven seats both in the depths of winter and on those sweltering summer days. The versions with V8 engines such as the GL 420 CDI, GL 450 and GL 500 come with the standard-fit multi-zone luxury climate control system, which offers even more climatic comfort. Other standard-fit convenience and comfort appointments include ARTICO man-made and leather upholstery combinations, electrically adjustable front seats and a fixed rear glass roof above the third row of seats.
The GL-Class makes full use of the advantages of its unibody monocoque construction, combining optimum strength with intelligent lightweight steel design. The result is excellent passive safety. Combined with the front and rear deformation zones, the high-strength occupant cell forms an efficient base for the occupant protection systems that include:
- Adaptive, two-stage airbags for the driver and front passenger.
- Sidebags in the front, and in the middle row of seats as an option.
- Windowbags across all three rows of seats from the A- to the D-pillar.
- NECK-PRO crash-responsive head restraints for the driver and front passenger as standard.
- Three-point seatbelts on all seven seats.
- Seatbelt tensioners and adaptive belt-force limiters for the driver and front passenger, seatbelt tensioners and belt-force limiters on the outer seats in the middle row.
With the standard PRE-SAFE® preventive occupant protection system, a world first in this market segment, Mercedes-Benz has raised safety to an even higher level. The system’s most striking features are passive and active safety systems networked with each other. PRE-SAFE® utilises the sensors in the dynamic handling control systems such as ABS, BAS (Brake Assist) and ESP® and optimises the protective function of the passive safety components in potential accident situations. The GL-Class also takes the issue of pedestrian protection to a new level. The front section includes precisely defined ample crumple space between the body and the major assemblies underneath. In conjunction with impact zones that are designed to yield, this design provides a high degree of protection both for pedestrians and cyclists.
The GL-Class meets all the requirements of a state-of-the-art, luxury SUV, or even redefines them on a higher level. Yet the hallmark Mercedes off-roader genes such as superlative robustness, ruggedness and long-term durability have not been compromised. It is not for nothing that the model designation echoes the legendary precursor of all Mercedes-Benz off-road vehicles – the G-Class. The evergreen off-roader is now entering its 26th year of production and will continue to be marketed alongside the new GL-Class.
4MATIC – the permanent four-wheel drive system from Mercedes-Benz – provides the GL-Class with superior handling whatever the conditions. Together with the standard-fit AIRMATIC air suspension, the precise speed-sensitive power steering and the ADS Adaptive Damper System also fitted as standard, the imposing GL-Class (wheelbase 3075 mm) handles impressively. Handling when pulling a trailer is no less impressive thanks to the ESP® component TSA (Trailer Stability Assist). TSA defuses critical driving situations involving a trailer before they become dangerous by precisely applying the brakes, while AIRMATIC provides fully automatic level adjustment.
Special off-road features such as Downhill Speed Regulation (DSR), hill-start assist and off-road ABS assist the GL-Class driver off road. The Off-Road Pro engineering package, standard on all European models, means the GL-Class can also handle the most extreme off-road terrain. This includes a two-speed transfer case with a low range ratio and 100 per cent differential locks for the transfer case and the rear axle. The modified AIRMATIC air suspension, designed specifically for more demanding conditions, increases the ground clearance to a maximum of 307 mm where required, and raises the fording depth to 600 mm.
The ultra-modern engine line-up in all GL-Class models provides superlative drive comfort and compelling performance coupled with superior fuel consumption figures compared with other vehicles in the class. Alongside the 165 kW/224 hp V6 engine in the GL 320 CDI, the range of diesel models includes the new-generation high-performance V8 diesel in the GL 420 CDI, which now has an output of 225 kW/ 306 hp and maximum torque of 700 Nm. Both diesel-powered versions undercut the EU 4 limits. In addition to the newly developed 5.5-litre, 285 kW/388 hp engine in the GL 500, launched earlier in the new S-Class, the second unit in this ultra-modern V8 family of engines is celebrating its world premiere in the GL-Class. In the GL 450 the 4.6-litre engine develops 250 kW/340 hp. Both engines also fulfil the stringent EU 4 limits (USA: LEV II standard).
All GL-Class engine variants come with the standard-fit 7G-TRONIC seven-speed automatic transmission with DIRECT SELECT. Excellent performance and low fuel consumption result not just from the perfect combination of ultra-modern engines with 7G-TRONIC and the friction-optimised powertrain. Another important factor is the comparatively low gross vehicle weight thanks to the unitised body and the excellent aerodynamics (Cd 0.37) for such a large vehicle.
“Mercedes Quality – Made in the USA” has established itself as the company’s new trademark on the other side of the Atlantic and illustrates the success story of the DaimlerChrysler plant in Tuscaloosa/Alabama. The birthplace of the GL-Class started production in 1997 as the first Mercedes-Benz plant outside Europe. Around $600 million has been invested since 2001 in expanding and constantly modernising the plant; overall the company has invested around $1 billion. Following the extension of the Tuscaloosa plant in May 2005, its theoretical annual production capacity for all model series stands at 160,000 units. The new GL-Class is now the third model series to be built here, alongside the M-Class and the R-Class.
The world premiere of the new Mercedes-Benz GL-Class will take place at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit in January 2006. U.S. customers will be the first to savour the delights of the new trendsetter in the spring; European left hand drive customers will have to wait until September 2006 for a taste of the versatile off-roader, with UK deliveries starting towards the end of 2006. UK model and engine details will be confirmed nearer the launch.