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‘Land Yacht’ is a term often reserved for large, heavy Cadillacs that generally accelerate very slowly and handle like a boat would on land. In short, it’s not a good thing to say about a car but I’m not so sure about the term solely being a bad thing. Allow me to introduce the Mercedes-Benz GLS400d.

Straight away, you will notice the sheer size of the thing. Yes, it’s huge. There’s no getting around that and if you want to then it does take a bit of time. However, the size does mean that it will actually sit 7 people comfortably rather than reserving the third row for contortionists and children as most 7 seaters do.

A side view of the Mercedes-Benz GLS 400d
It’s as long and tall as SUVs come

Proportions are key to ensure a car like this doesn’t look oversized and Mercedes have got it pretty spot on. The bi-plane grille in the front, the headlights and of course the 23 inch wheels all make the car look just right. This particular model was specified with the infamously expensive but irresistible AMG package and that makes a big difference, pardon the pun. The package includes an AMG grille, larger AMG wheels, sportier looking body panels and a lip spoiler. The contrast gloss black roof rails also add a sporty touch to this SUV.

A rear view of the Mercedes GLS 400d
Notice the fake exhausts

The rear gets LED tailights, a sporty black diffuser and some very fake exhausts. Mercedes hasn’t even made an effort to hide them, they are literally chrome outlined pieces of plastic. The back of the GLS is full of cool tricks though.

The first one being the ability to raise and lower the rear using a button. It’s hard loading objects into the high boot of the GLS so this is a big help! There is also a button in the boot that hides the tow bar or reveals it through a very slow operating electric motor. However, the coolest button is yet to come because the GLS will allow you to drop or raise both the second and third row of seats. This action looks like slowly falling Dominos. The electric motors in this car are generally slow, a fact that you will find out when getting into the third row of seats.

The interior of the GLS 400d
The leather filled interior of the GLS 400d

Remember that the GLS is the SUV equivalent to the S-Class as per Mercedes’ rule so expect the cabin to be pretty damn good. And for the most part, it doesn’t disappoint. There is leather on basically everything and it is supple, the word soft would not do it justice. The seats are extremely comfortable, a fact made even more obvious when you activate the massage function. You can do so by using Mercedes’ twin screen infotainment screen. The icons are clear and the touchscreen is relatively easy to use. The digital dials are the same. To give you an idea of how large this GLS actually is, most cars have 2 air vents in the middle. Well, the GLS has 4! One thing I will say is that the build quality wasn’t exactly top notch in places, the AC controls shook and some of the plastics were loose. That is a rare occurrence for Mercedes though because their build quality is generally excellent.

A front view of the Mercedes GLS
There’s nothing boat like about the way it drives

For an SUV of this size, you would expect it to struggle where performance is concerned but not the GLS, looks are certainly deceiving here. The 3 litre turbo diesel six pot puts out 700Nm and 243 kW. Mind numbing stuff! In fact, that diesel engine will catapult this colossal 2+ tonne car to 100 in 6.7 seconds. To put it into context, that’s the same time that my Golf GTI will take to do the 0-100 sprint. Other than that, that six cylinder diesel is just incredible. The way it pulls and offers so much torque but at the same time is silky smooth. It doesn’t sound like a diesel either. Speaking of sounds, you can’t really hear much in the cabin. The suspension does an excellent job of ironing out the bumps and despite those 23 inch wheels, there is no road noise in the cabin. The perfect opportunity then to test out the Burmester audio system!

A rear three quarter view of the GLS 400d
It is quite a statement

The Verdict

I was actually surprised by how good this GLS is. The size definitely makes it a handful when parking or in the city, I can’t imagine this would fit in any of the inner city multi-storeys. Once inside, you don’t really the notice the weight of the car because of how good that engine is, it is capable of some serious speed without kicking up much of a fuss. You do really feel like you’re floating, the GLS will iron out anything in its way.

The GLS 400d receives a 7.5/10

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