The new Mercedes-Benz GLS has proved once again that it is a real off-roader, not just an intruder on rough terrain. The 7-seater has made its latest demonstration at Big Dune, Nevada, north of Las Vegas.
A Mercedes-Benz GLS 580 prototype, that is soon to become the top of the GLS range, left the pavement behind to perform some dune bashing in the desert.
The Mercedes-Benz GLS SUV, introduced in April, at the New York Motor Show, is available with the GLS 450 name, with a 3.0-liter turbocharged, six-cylinder engine, that develops 367 horsepower and 500 Newton meters of torque. But that will soon be topped by the GLS 580, powered by a 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V8, assisted by the company’s EQ-Boost mild-hybrid technology. This unit churns out 489 horsepower and 700 Newton meters of torque, with 22 HP and 250 Nm extra provided by the EQ Boost for short bursts of acceleration.
The 48-Volt syste also powers the E-Active Body Control system. In conjunction with the air suspension and a camera and sensors-based road scanner, the system controls the spring and damper rates for each wheel individually. Depending on the surface to come, the technology fits the suspension with the right settings.
With the E-Active Body Control, the GLS stands tall, smooth, composed, while rushing into sand hills and coming downhill. The chief development engineer behind the steering wheel, Andreas Zygan, intentionally buries the GLS in soft sand. But he knows what he is doing. He presses the Free Driving Assist button and the car starts to bounce up and down until it rocks itself free.
The future GLS 580 owner may tick the boxes for the optional equipment such as the two-speed transfer case and the three selectable ride heights that adjusts ground clearance.
The plush off-roader dances its way through Big Dune, throwing sand in all directions, as if it was born there and right at home in the desert. The E-Active Body Control seems to make it the next best thing in the off-road to the company’s unbeatable G-Class.