Mercedes GL500 review

Why don’t you buy this? No, really. Why don’t you?

By Shahzad Sheikh

Mercedes GL500

The GL has always baffled me when it comes to our market. The Middle East loves its Mercs, and justifiably so. Unchallenged prestige, proven heritage, certified indestructibility, they’re the cars you buy when you’ve made it, and have nothing left to prove.

Along comes the GL then. Combining all those Mercedes qualities n a big body of the kind beloved of buyers hooked on a diet of Land Cruisers and Yukon Denalis.

Mercedes GL500

It throws in an extra row of seats, maintains good luggage space while doing so, and its trump card? As both my off-roading colleagues will confirm – it’s not too shabby when having to traverse off-road, be it wadis or deserts.

So why then, don’t we see many of these on the roads of our region? We do the slightly less massive ML, and the G-wagon is a legend in its own lifetime, so what’s the problem with the GL? Frankly speaking, I don’t know.

Mercedes GL500

But whatever it is, perhaps the issue is resolved with the new 2013 GL?

It’s crisper and better resolved in its styling, longer, wider and taller, it has more interior space and comfort. It has a good driving position, is extremely capable of carrying a full family and their pet, over very long distances with nary a moan or complaint from anyone on board, and as for the performance…

Mercedes GL500

Well here’s a surprise, the 4.7-litre V8 mated to a 7-speed auto puts out 408bhp and 443lb ft of torque that propels this 2445kg bus to 100kph in a quite staggering 5.9 seconds and it will reach a limited 250kph if you are able to keep going.

From behind the wheel it feels decently rapid and, whilst no sports car, it handles fairly well for a big ‘un although you won’t be chucking it around too enthusiastically. Besides that would upset the peeps in the back. Still, being a Mercedes, you know this thing is as safe as a house and the driver’s aids will keep you out of trouble mostly.

Mercedes GL500

Even the price isn’t too unreasonable when it comes o luxury, practical super-SUVs. A base price of AED367k, although our test car weighed in at AED444k. But cut out the Designo trim package, trailer coupling and night vision and it drops to AED415k.

You’d probably want to keep options like the blind spot and lane assist systems as well the braking aids, along with the Bang and Olufsen sound system, AMG pack and parking camera. I know those prices bring it worryingly close to a Range Rover, but this is the more practical car.

Mercedes GL500

So I have to leave off, where I came in – slightly confused. I still can’t quite explain why this car doesn’t sell in bigger numbers in our region. It’s extremely good at what it does and it seems spot-on for our needs and terrain.

Let me know what you think!

Mercedes GL500

Specs
Mercedes GL500
How much? AED367,000 ($99,800)
Engine: 4.7-litre, V8, 408bhp @ 5000-5750rpm, 443lb ft @ 1600-4750rpm
Transmission: Seven-speed automatic, four-wheel drive
Fuel Economy: 11.5L/100km
Performance: 0-100kph 5.9 seconds, Top speed 250kph
Weight: 2445kg

Explain below why you won’t buy this car

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