COUNTING on the Teutonic thoroughness Germans are famous for I imagine that, when conceiving this week’s drive — the magnificent GL 350 BlueTEC AMG Sport — Mercedes-Benz instructed its designers to think big. And I mean massive. A cheeky Englishman such as myself may even suggest that the letters “GL” might imply a wish to “Go Large”. Because make no mistake about it this car is — to paraphrase Yogi Bear in his pomp — a “bigger than the average” car.
It is not often that you actually look down on other big marauding 4x4s on the road but the Mercedes-Benz GL has this effect on you. Like it or not, you find yourself gazing earthwards at other motoring folk. Not necessarily in a snooty sense — though there is without doubt a built-in edge of superiority attached to cars such as the GL — it’s just that the driving position is so good that you simply command the road.
Yet the Mercedes-Benz GL, for all its size and stature, is not at all a cumbersome car.
Quite astoundingly it is the opposite: it is so easily manoeuvrable that you have to pinch yourself that you are not dreaming when you float the car into a parking space. It has to be a big parking space, mind, to accommodate the GL’s great length but with the aid of its illuminating parking system that not only gives a rear view but also a 360-degree view, you can squeeze into the tightest spot.
But for me where this car — and it has to be said others in the new Mercedes-Benz model range — scores highly is on the open road. Motorway travel is sublime. There is no other word for it: I do not think I have been more comfortable in a car.
The miles sail by and the GL laps them up. Coming home at night this week in driving snow and rain with lots of traffic I felt the safest I have ever felt while driving a car on the motorway in very challenging conditions.
To my mind, with the abject congestion on our roads, especially motorways, the GL is the answer. You are big enough not to be bullied or hurried, you have in-car entertainment and comfort (three-colour ambient lighting!) that would grace anyone’s front room and you have enough space for your family and a few of their friends besides (this is a true seven-seater) when the occasion arises.
Ho hum, I hear you say. Yes, but all this magnificence surely comes at a price? Of course it does.
For this particular test model of the GL you would get some change out of £84,000 with a host of options fitted.
The actual amount of standard equipment — which is included in the circa £60,000 basic price — is very good and varied.
These kind of sums sound a lot. Let’s face it, that is a lot of money to pay for a car. But I have tested cars that cost a lot more and do not offer the completeness of the Mercedes-Benz GL.
Because in this car you have an MPV (multi-purpose vehicle/people carrier), a luxury executive saloon and a sports car rolled into one.The latter comes courtesy of the AMG moniker attached: AMG is the added sports performance arm of Mercedes-Benz. To a degree this level of motoring is another world for most motorists — a planet that exists but for many only in their dreams. What you cannot take away from Mercedes-Benz is that in this car, the GL, as with many models of the German car maker’s in its new range, you have cars of exceptional form that should satisfy the desires and demands of most drivers on the road today.
Car tested: Mercedes-Benz GL 350 BlueTEC AMG Sport
• Price with options fitted: £83,515
• Two engines are available in GL, both featuring ECO start/stop technology — GL 350 BlueTEC 4MATIC and GL 63 AMG, the first seven-seat AMG
• The 3.0-litre V6 diesel engine in the GL 350 BlueTEC produces 258 hp and 620 Nm of torque, allowing it to reach 62mph from standstill in 7.9 seconds and on to a 137mph top speed
• AMG Sport package adds AMG bodystyling, flared wheel arches, 21in AMG five-twin-spoke light-alloy wheels, 19in sports brakes, and aluminium-finish running boards
Parktronic with Active Park Assist, AirMATIC air suspension, an electric glass sunroof, privacy glass, and the Intelligent Light system are all standard equipment
Artico artificial leather upholstery, aluminium trim, multi-function sports steering wheel, automatic climate control, and front heated seats feature in luxurious interior
COMAND Online and DAB radio offer a top class stereo system
Fitted with Collision Prevention Assist as standard; a premier in SUV market