The refreshed seven-seat 2016 Mercedes-Benz GLS has been revealed today, ahead of an Australian debut set for early next year.

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.

Mercedes-Benz GLS, (X 166), FL 2015

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.

Mercedes-Benz GLS, (X 166), FL 2015

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.

Mercedes-Benz GLS, (X 166), FL 2015

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.

Mercedes-Benz GLS, (X 166), FL 2015

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.