Speaking of air, pneumatic suspension is standard at both axles, which not only secures cloud-like ride comfort, but also provides an edge on the rough stuff. Specified with the extended off-road package, the vehicle is able to rock itself free when bogged down, as the suspension autonomously initiates a sequence of up-and-down movement. We first witnessed this technology in the GLE-Class at its international launch in 2018. The machine looked as if it were twerking in a music video. Two engine choices are on offer, both are fitted with a nine-speed, torque-converter automatic transmission and both are four-wheel drive.
First up is the GLS 400d, followed by the beefy GLS 580. Our test unit was of the former specification, wielding the rather impressive 2925cc, in-line, six-cylinder, turbocharged-diesel engine. It is a power source you can have in other Mercedes-Benz applications and it is a praiseworthy one, blending economy and remarkable performance.
Its 243kW and hefty 700Nm of torque hustles the GLS-Class around with an urgency that belies its weight. Claimed acceleration from 0-100km/h is just 6.3 seconds – faster than a Volkswagen Polo GTI.
At R1,842,000, the GLS-Class is priced appropriately and certainly feels as special and accomplished for the outlay. You would be faced with the unenviable task of picking between other superb offerings in the field, such as the BMW X7 or the full-sized original Range Rover, both of which are priced around the same ballpark.