The new-generation Mercedes-Benz GLS – the car that replaces the current Mercedes-Benz GL – will be revealed later this year, and the brand is looking at derivatives that could help it fill ultra-niche and ultra-luxury segments.
The company has just launched its new GLE and GLE Coupe models in Europe, and there’s a GLC and GLC Coupe pairing also on its way. So, could the GLS become the next model to score a coupe-style spin-off? It appears likely.
CarAdvice spoke with Mercedes-Benz’s vice-president of product for SUVs and sports cars, Wolf-Dieter Kurz, at the GLE/GLE Coupe launch this week, and he indicated that it would make more sense for a large model to be offered with a sloping roof than it would for, say, the GLA, which is the brand’s entry-level SUV.
“We have no decision either on the lower side nor on the higher side,” he asserted, before expanding on the potential reasoning for either option.
“In the lower side I’m getting a bit concerned about the space in the rear compartment. If you narrow the rear headroom of a very small vehicle, it can be a touch point where customers do not like it anymore because you cannot utilise the space then in a proper way.
“In the upper point it would be no problem,” he said. Just give the vehicle 50 centimetres more wheelbase and it would still work.”
The company is also taking notice of the action at the very top end of the SUV ranks. Bentley is launching the Bentayga, Lamborghini has confirmed a production version of its SUV, and Land Rover’s Range Rover model line seemingly knows no stopping point in terms of opulence.
Kurz suggested that Mercedes-Benz has taken notice of what’s happening in that market segment - indeed, there has been talk of a Mercedes-Maybach version of the new GLS (a la the S-Class and the S600 Maybach version of that car), he didn’t deny the appeal at that end.
“If you look in to the market there are competitors who are doing products like that, especially Range Rover with the long-wheelbase and luxury variants,” he said. “So that’s where we are really looking in to that.”
SUVs are known for offering good margins in terms of profit, and niche models that can attract higher price tags are obviously attractive for that very reason. But there must be a market, and that’s something Kurz knows following the rollout of the GLE and GLE Coupe siblings (pictured below).
“Are we following the path of the X6? You have to make up your mind and you have to keep the focus as to in terms of the overall portfolio, where are we going now? Where are we investing? What can we do at the same time?” he posited.
“It’s not only a question of what’s a trend in the market, it’s also a question of the strategy of the company and there are other things that have to fit into each other,” he said.