Mercedes has unveiled its most luxurious SUV yet.
The new generation Mercedes GLS is larger in every dimension than its predecessor (length +77 mm, width +22 mm, wheelbase +60mm) to create a more spacious cabin – and crammed it with technology.
All three rows of seats have electric adjustment and there are two giant 11.6-inch touchscreens for second-row passengers.
There’s also an optional 7-inch Android tablet that stows in its own docking station in the second row arm rest.
The new GLS is also available with “gesture control” for the infotainment and cabin controls.
The “Interior Assistant” camera in the overhead console monitors movements of the driver's and front passenger's hands and arms.
When a hand approaches the touchscreen or the touchpad on the centre console, the media display changes and individual elements are highlighted.
The system is able to distinguish the driver's hand from that of the front passenger, and therefore knows for whose seat the massage function is to be activated, for example.
Available as an option is a new-generation full-colour heads-up display projected from a high resolution (720 x 240 pixels) screen with “extended projection distance”.
The new model has more cargo space when the third row seats are stowed and the second row now folds flat to create a massive 2400 litres in storage capacity.
The second and third row seats can be folded flat at the press of a button on flagship models. And a new six-seater variant – with two individual rear seats in the second row – is available for the first time.
Mercedes claims the third row can even fit tall adults up to 194cm in height and legroom in all three rows has improved.
All three rows of seats also have heating – and USB charge ports to end arguments and prolong screen time.
Top end models have five-zone air-conditioning, including climate control for the third row.
The multi beam headlights are the “brightest permitted by law”, with a total of 112 LEDs per headlamp.
Mercedes claims the brightness of the main beam headlights only fall below one lux after a distance of more than 650 metres.
The new shape promises to cut through the air a little more efficiently, too, with the coefficient of drag reduced from 0.35cD to 0.32cD. While hardly shaped like a teardrop, such an improvement is likely to lead to better highway fuel economy.
Mercedes-Benz Australia will confirm engine options and prices closer to the local launch at the end of the year.
In the US it’s available with a new GLS580 designation powered by a turbo V8 backed up with electric assistance, with a power output of 360kW of power and 700Nm of torque – and a further 250 Nm of torque and 16 kW available via EQ Boost over short periods.
The GLS450 has a 270kW/500Nm output, also backed up by the same EQ Boost package.
The diesel GLS350d (210kW/600Nm) and GLS400d (243kW/700Nm) are available in overseas markets, with Australia likely to get both variants given demand for diesel in the large SUV class.
This reporter is on Twitter: @JoshuaDowling