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Mercedes GL
Mercedes GL
Finally, A Full-Sized SUV From Mercedes Benz
Mercedes GL
Mercedes GL
Mercedes GL

You’ll Like - Goes Anywhere, In Unparallelled Comfort, Quality
But – Guzzles Gas, Consumes Conspicuously
If You’ve Got It, You Might As Well Flaunt It While You Still Can
**** out of 5 

Some times you have to pinch yourself to remind you that the real world really does exist.

You can’t get away from the constant drip, drip of propaganda on the BBC or in the media about global warming, and how we are all going to do die unless we get our of cars, or at the very least dump gas guzzlers and go for weenie little vehicles that will do umpteen miles to the gallon, or better still only use electric motors or burn something called ethanol.

In a way it’s good to know that the likes of Mercedes Benz don’t exist in this boring, uncertain world, and are working away in a calm, parallel universe where none of this worrying is going on.

Introducing the Mercedes GL.

It is massive, weighing nearly 2-1/2 tonnes and seating 7 adults in comfort. The top of the range GL 500 is powered by a 5.5 litre V8 petrol engine which gulps down fuel at an average rate of 20 miles to the gallon. (If I was in the prize-giving business, which I’m not, I’d offer something very valuable to the first person with a GL 500 who averaged 20 mpg). And speaking of gargantuan, prices start at £51,675-€76,550 no less, or if you live in America you can have it for £29,300-€43,400, but that’s another story of which more later.

Lies, half truths
Yet, while failed presidential candidate Al Gore is on the stump pedalling his movie “An Inconvenient Truth”, (full of lies and half-truths about the science behind human induced climate change), the automotive industry is heroically ignoring the warnings and carrying on as though nothing has changed. Of course, if you ask a spokesman for a big car manufacturer about the policy on climate change, they will almost certainly play lip service to the idea, tell you how they feel your pain and are doing their best to counter climate change, and hey, look at our hybrid plans for the next 10 years.

Meanwhile they produce vehicles like the Mercedes GL. Apparently the ML series isn’t big enough, hence this new SUV which is just over 300 mm or almost one foot longer, with an additional row of seats.

But the GL is a magnificent beast. It is comfortable and beautifully put together. On the road the car is quiet and malleable. If you need two extra seats the rear row can be raised at the push of a button. The full range of computerised safety aids is included, with a few more in the form of Pre-Safe, which coordinates airbags, windows, and door locks if there’s a serious accident. As befits a car that will mainly sell in America, the 7-speed automatic gearbox is operated from a lever on the steering column. Off road, it performs heroically, although it lacks the sophistication of the Range Rover and its siblings with the Terrain Response System, which uses computer power to take all the off-road decisions. The GL has permanent 4-wheel drive, and air suspension. 

Rich wimps
This behemoth could be even more harmful to the environment, if it wasn’t for a new V8 diesel which improves fuel economy to an average 23.9 mpg. There’s a 3.0 litre V6 petrol for rich wimps.

The GL is made at Mercedes Tuscaloosa, Alabama plant alongside the M-Class and R-Class, which goes some way to explaining why the vehicle costs more than £20,000-€30,000 less in America. It also has to face competition there from the Cadillac Escalade, Lincoln Navigator and the Infiniti QX56.

Neil Winton – September 5, 2006

Mercedes-Benz GL 500
5.5 litre V8
388 bhp
7-speed automatic
all wheels
0-62-100 km/h 6.5 seconds
Top Speed:
140 mph-225 km/h
Fuel Consumption:
claimed combined 20.0 mpg-14.1 l/kms
CO2 Emissions:
331 g/km
5,088 mm
Weight: 2,445 kg
Cadillac Escalade, Lincoln Navigator, Infiniti QX56, Range Rover, Audi Q7, Porsche Cayenne, Lexus LX470, Toyota Land Cruiser,  BMW X5
Same for Less: Hyundai Santa Fe
Would I buy one?
No. I’m wedded to the Range Rover
**** out of 5
does everything, goes anywhere
Somebody does it better

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