The conversations around the CarAdvice Melbourne office, when not about cars, are usually highly intellectual and poignant statements about our society today – and cars.
Government policy, environmental issues, and the glory days of early 90’s West-Coast gangsta rap have all been recently tabled. The latter, conveniently coinciding with the arrival of our long-term 2015 Mercedes-Benz GL350 BlueTec 'Edition S'.
Amid the memorable baselines and social commentary coming from South Central in the summer of ’91, was also a lot of car references. Did you know that Mercedes-Benz is the most talked-about car brand in modern rap and hip-hop lyrics?
Surprised us too.
Eazy-E impressed the ladies by saying he drove a 190E (not quite sure how that worked), Ice-T was "Mercedes-Benz drivin’, strivin’ to survivin’", even one of his ’99 Problems’ "rolled a rag-top Benz".
In the music, to be a proper gangsta, or simply a G, meant pushing a Merc. That made it semi appropriate that our new G-ride was in fact, a G-ride.
It is officially a total G-thing now over at Mercedes-Benz, with the recent launch of the mid-size ML-replacing GLE completing the lineup of G-named SUVs. And while not the OG (that title is reserved for the iconic, utilitarian G-Wagen), the GL itself is set to be renamed GLS to signify its position as the big dog in the range.
Straight outta Tuscaloosa, the USA-built GL-Class has been with us for almost ten-years. The second-generation car arrived in 2012, and has seen only minor updates to the 2015 model year specification we have.
But what a specification it is.
The GL-Class makes no apologies for being a luxury SUV first and foremost. From the heated and ventilated front seats with four massage programs to the temperature controlled cup holders (I know! We’ve been living like animals before now).
There’s integrated mood lighting and even the side-steps light up at night, there is a 360-degree parking camera as well as the full suite of Mercedes driver assistance technologies.
The second and third row seats are powered when folding, and even with all seven-seats in play, there is still a big boot – meaning this time it can be more than just you and Lorenzo rolling in the Benzo…
The GL is the top selling premium upper-large SUV wagon in the country, shifting 377 units so far this year, to the Range Rover’s 239 and Lexus LX’s 103. However there is some serious activity at the lower-range of the GL’s price spectrum with a new Audi Q7 and Volvo XC90 both landing with more luxury and more technology than before, as well as having the same seven-seat practicality of the Benz.
Finished in Tenorite Grey, our GL350 starts from $134,510 (before on-road costs) and includes a number of options over the standard car ($114,510) as part of the ‘Edition S’ package.
This includes the black-fabric roof lining, multi-contour front seats, tyre-pressure monitoring system and AMG sports package. Further, our car has the Premium Package ($3,800) which adds the panoramic glass sunroof, rear sun blinds, and previously mentioned heated front seats and cup holders.
The AMG Sports body kit, with its flared arches and 21-inch black AMG twin-spoke alloy wheels give the GL a tough and muscular look, and almost disguise the size of the car. Which, its fair to say, is big.
At 5,120mm long, the GL350 is 263mm longer than the BMW X5 I am used to driving. It might not sound much, but that extra 26cm narrows the availability of parking spaces more than you would think.
Weighing in at just under 2.5-tonne (2,455kg) the GL350 is powered by a 190kW / 620Nm 3-litre turbo-diesel V6. To save the trip to the calculator, that is about 78kW per tonne, a figure that concerns more in regard to fuel consumption (claimed at 7.7L/100km combined cycle) than it does outright performance.
So what is in store for the big G?
We’ll see what it’s like to go up a size in the extra-large SUV stakes and live with the GL350 on the school run, shopping trips and Saturday morning ballet lessons that tend to make up most of the day to day existence of these big wagons.
We’ll hit the road during the school holidays and look at long-range touring comfort and consumption of the Mercedes, and maybe even put the 4WD system to the test for some ‘off piste’ adventuring.
As always we will keep an eye on fuel consumption, general running costs and issues and are here to answer any questions you might have along the way.
Mercedes-Benz GL350 BlueTec 'Edition S'
Date acquired – July 2015
Odometer reading – 1120km
Travel since previous update – N/A
Consumption since previous update – N/A
Click the Photos tab for more images by Tom Fraser.