As expected, today’s unveiling sees the big and familiar GL follow in the footsteps of its smaller stablemates, taking on a new name that better reflects its position in the carmaker’s SUV line-up.
That means that while the GLA sits alongside the small A-Class, the new mid-sized GLC replaces the GLK to sit with the medium C-Class range, and the GLE name replaces ML as the E-Class line’s SUV sibling, the big GLS is now properly regarded as a companion to the ultra-premium S-Class models.
Along with a new name, Benz’s big SUV brings refreshed styling at the front and rear that moves it in-line with the company’s latest design language, including re-shaped headlights, a more rounded-out grille frame and new garnish, along with new bumper designs across the range.
Changes at the rear are less distinctive, with lightly tweaked tail-lamp lens designs and a new look to the bumper and exhaust tips.
In the cabin, there’s the promise of upgraded leather trim, an eight-inch display matched to a 65x45mm touchpad controller and access to a number of online applications - although the specific spread of features in Australian models is still to be confirmed.
Tweaks under the skin include the adoption of a nine-speed automatic transmission - replacing the current model’s seven-speed auto - while the AMG variant sticks with its tuned seven-speed unit.
The line-up includes the diesel-powered GLS 350d (replacing GL 350 Bluetec), along with the petrol V6 GLS 400 and V8 GLS 500.
The GLS 350d’s diesel V6 offers 190kW and a big 620Nm of torque, carrying over from the current model.
In the GLS 400, there’s a 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 delivering 245kW and 480Nm, with fuel use - on the European test cycle - listed at 8.9L/100km.
Power in the GLS 500 is boosted by 15kW to a new 335kW, while torque holds steady at 700Nm.
Reports suggest a plug-in hybrid GLS 500e model is also on the way, pairing the 245kW V6 petrol engine with an 85kW electric motor for big power - but a super-frugal fuel usage figure of around 4.0L/100km.
Features with the 2016 GLS include a special Off-Road Engineering pack that adds a low-range transmission and locking centre differential, adding an Off-Road+ driving mode while boosting ground clearance to 306mm and delivering a wading depth to 600mm.
The 2016 Mercedes-Benz GLS makes its Australian debut in May next year, with local pricing and specifications to be confirmed closer to launch.