The criteria for buying a car, and what a prospective owner looks at is quite different to what a motoring journalist looks at.
I ordered the new Mercedes GL in 2013, sight unseen, after it won the Motor Trend SUV of the year. Breadth of capability was the thing that one over the judges. And Motor Trend is the current benchmark for automotive online journalism.
Despite this, I came to realise, that only a prospective owner will review a car properly, and I will in future test it for a day in detail by myself, without the slack jawed oily haired sales “consultant” anywhere in sight.
In 2013, the Aussie D was strong, so although the dealer could not give a discount on a brand new model, they chucked in a lot for free: AMG pack, wood, sunroof, buttock heaters, rear seat entertainment, interior upgrade, etc.
It was fully loaded minus the heated cupholder…
However, its made in the deep south of the US, by two guys called Bubba and Cletus, whose butt cracks are visible from outer space.
Consequently the fit and finish are about as polished as their table manners. Some of the interior trim came loose early and had to be fixed.
On our first long drive, an unsecured coolant line was cut by the engine fan, spraying coolant over the engine bag and making our car underivable. It had to be towed to the nearest MB garage, who repaired it on the spot.
Since then, we have become aware of a shudder through the car at high speeds on the eastern freeway, it is not a wheel alignment or balance issue, but seems to have been reported by other owners as well.
The AC system is prone to growing mould, something that constantly needs attention. There is an entire thread on the MB forums on this.
The cars UI tech system is very poor, not at all intuitive. It can’t use web connect with an iPhone, and the screen is tiny and low res.
The outside and reversing cameras don’t work at night. They are terrible, had I known I would not have bought this car. This is a deal breaker for an owner, it speaks of very poor engineering. Either Cletus, Bubba or their boss Adolf didn’t bother to test drive the car at night, or more likely didn’t care about this deep design flaw. It was a calculated lets screw the owner and dare him to do something about it.
And people like me, people who buy cars like this, don’t like being taken for fools. When that happens we nurse grudges for a long time, multiple automotive purchases. Are you listening Adolf?
So whats good about it?
Well, there are many positives. It’s a three tonne truck without a squeak or rattle. The engine is epic, astonishingly good. The gearbox, brakes and dynamic capabilities are superb.
Its 110 litre tank (100 plus the pipes), will easily get you to Warsaw on one tank.
NVH is excellent, and the interior minus the tech is a nice place to be. I recommend it in white with a design interior.
It is a vast car, that can seat 7 americans in comfort, or 8 non pachyderms quite easily. American megafauna aside, for a normal size person, its a Southbank apartment.
Mercedes service is very good. They patiently fix every single problem silently whilst I berate them for working for a marketing led company living in the corpse of a once proud engineering giant.
My recommendation is this; wait for the GLS update, buy it 6 months after release, after you have test driven it, get the diesel and get everything on it. Don’t pay anymore than 125k regardless of the exchange rate.
Get it in white, and get bubba as your number plate, but pull up your pants.