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http://kaywa.me/Op1Vo My Kaywa QR-Code www.robertbrucemotors.co.nz SELWYN TIMES Tuesday October 25 2016 35 Driven Luxury, practicality in big Mercedes SUV • By Ross Kiddie PROJECTIONS for New Zealand’s new car sales in 2016 and 2017 are mindboggling. Some analysts are suggesting that around 140,000 new cars will be sold here this year, with up to 150,000 next year. That’s on the back of a constant increase in sales since the global financial crisis ended. Putting that into context, in 2008 new car sales here peaked at just 73,400 units. The manufacturers are generally happy with the new trend, and all agree it is the popularity of the sport utility market which is driving up demand. There’s a host of SUVs in our market, and they cater for all manner of budgets. If you have a bit of extra cash to spend and need a seven-seater, Mercedes- Benz has the GLS series which starts at $139,000 and ends $100,000 above that. In between there are two other variants listing at $160,000 and $198,000. Each variant is determined by engine size and type. The test car was the entry-level variant, and it gets a 3-litre, turbocharged V6 diesel; for an extra $21,000 you can get the same vehicle with a host of extra AMG bits and increased safety MERCEDES-BENZ GLS: Caters for seven occupants in comfort. specification, a 4.7-litre petrol variant sits above that, while the range tops out with a 5.5-litre V8 with full AMG kit. Even in standard form the GLS is a pretty smart piece of machinery, all variants have the Mercedes-Benz 4Matic fourwheel-drive system, and have an in-cabin structure which easily caters for seven occupants in comfort. The GLS is a large SUV, it stretches nearly 5m and feels big to drive, I’m not saying it is awkward, but you sit tall off the road and it does test the innercity metered car park. But, saying that, it does have all of the park assist features and cameras which make that mission a lot easier than it sounds. And the GLS feels spritely. I find it amazing how so much power can be gleaned from European engines, yet at the same time they don’t tax our fossil fuel reserves. The important figures go something like this – 190kW and 620Nm of torque while fuel usage is rated at just 7.6l/100km (37mpg). With the high torque figure, and the low area in which it is developed (1600rpm-2400rpm), the GLS is quick under acceleration, it will launch to 100km/h from a standstill in 7.8sec and will make a 4.1sec 80km/h to 120km/h highway overtake. On the subject of fuel usage, the trip computer was constantly listing around 9l/100km (31mpg) during testing time with 7l/100km (40mpg) available instantaneously at 100km/h, the rev counter pointing to a very lazy 1500rpm. Not that the engine is lazy, it works freely and disguises well the traditional diesel throb. Power is transferred through a nine-speed conventional automatic gearbox, and with the constant supply of ratios the engine is kept well within its preferred power bands. Response to throttle request is instant and fluid, there is little gear change detection, and the engine drive process is well organised. Considering the big GLS weighs in excess of two-tonne, all of these factors are even more remarkable. There are also several drive modes that the driver can dial in to sustain varying conditions. Most are to glean grip on unsealed surfaces and undulating terrain, but there’s also a sport mode for when tight sealed road challenges are presented. I took the test car on an inland route though to Loburn, and while some of the corners were a handling test the GLS responded with much dignity. I used the sport suspension settings which were fit for the purpose, body balance is well • Price – Mercedes-Benz GLS 350d, $139,000 • Dimensions – Length, 5130mm; width, 1934mm; height, 1850mm • Configuration – V6, fourwheel-drive, 2987cc, 190kW, 620Nm, nine-speed automatic. • Performance – 0-100km/h, 7.8sec • Fuel usage – 7.6l/100km contained, and the steering is strongly loaded for turn-in feedback. The GLS in this form is fitted with 20in wheels and tyres which are factored for on and off-road surfaces. Even considering the higher grade models have wheels 21in and 22in respectively, the GLS in standard form isn’t undertyred, it feels secure on the road, grip and stability are well engineered into the vehicle. Given its heritage, it’s not surprising the GLS is a premium vehicle, it is beautifully built and exudes comfort. It can also be optioned to suit buyers’ preference in terms of family needs and demands, the option list is extensive so that all who travel in the vehicle can do so in style, and in a fashion where it is far from a hardship. 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