With power and luxury, the Mercedes-Benz GLS 500 is an ultimate driving machine that has Bryan Richards drooling.
The phone rang and I knew it was something important. Date and time was July 18 at midday. My mission, should I choose to accept, was to take command of a Mercedes-Benz SUV and test drive it for Y Magazine.
Did I accept? Of course, I did. It’s not every day that I get a chance to get behind the wheel of an automotive machine worth a cool RO48,000.
Not that I knew that when I agreed to the job. I had no idea that this wasn’t just any old run-of-the-mill Mercedes-Benz SUV: it was the Mercedes-Benz GLS 500 4Matic SUV with AMC trim. In white, fully loaded with all-leather seats and many more extras that are too long to list here. The only thing it couldn’t do was make toast and coffee!
And, as the keys were handed to me at the Mercedes-Benz showroom in Qurum, it was all mine for a few hours.
It’s a five or seven seater, with all electric seats – and I mean all electric. Even the two seats at the very back were powered to fold away if not in use, while all the head rests were also electrically powered.
The rear door opened and closed electrically, the driver’s and passenger doors closed shut and locked automatically.
The front headrests have in-car theatre video screens, allowing rear passengers to watch their favourite DVDs. The sound system would give a movie theatre a run for its money. The driver has chilled or heated bottle holders, along with air-conditioned or heated seats for the winter (not at the top of my list in Oman, but some people might appreciate a little warmth in the cooler months).
This vehicle was so loaded I was beginning to wonder if it would move out of the parking lot.
I gingerly edged it out of the showroom as it was brand new; so new, in fact, that the protective wrappers were still in place.
As some of you might remember, I’ve done a few test drives for Y before and usually they have been four-wheel drive vehicles.
So being the right man to take this machine for a test, I had to think of a fitting route.
I drove to Mabela up the Sultan Qaboos highway. What a dream car, no road or engine noise. I had to keep looking at the rev counter to make sure the engine was still alive!
This vehicle drove like a luxury top-of-the-range Mercedes-Maybach S-Class on the highway; just perfect!
The air con, and it was a rather hot day in the very high 30s, had to be turned up and the fan down as I felt like I was in a blast freezer after only a few short minutes. Exceptional – and it cooled the whole car, not just the front.
Now I’m a gadget man; show me buttons and knobs and I’ve got to press or turn them. This dashboard was my dream. Loads of buttons and knobs to twiddle and push, I was in big kid’s heaven. But the one I wanted to try was the Sport mode.
So I drove up the switchback hills in Bawshar and over to Amerat, heading towards Sur. At a vertical height of 300 metres, and lots of very sharp bends, switchbacks and corners to navigate going up and down, it was a perfect road to really put this GLS 500 through its paces.
It rose to the occasion and then some.
What a vehicle. It took the climb, the bends, the corners and powered past other traffic struggling to ascend all in its stride, as if on rails. It had the power, the torque and road handling of a fast hatchback and still had more to give.
After I descended, I found a short bit of clear road and gave it a little bit of throttle.
The back sat down, the front reared up and the beast took off like a thoroughbred horse out of the starting gate.
It takes a lot to impress me but this vehicle has done it. It has power, it has class, it has looks, it has road handling second to none and it has pedigree.
My first impression was a big heavy vehicle that was comfy inside. But once you get behind the steering wheel, it feels as light as a feather, like a small car feeling, but with that big car luxury and safety.
As a permanent four-wheel drive, it could easily go off the beaten track, although I wouldn’t take it dune bashing or hard-core off-roading .
My only one slightly negative observation is the side mirrors. Way too small and in the mirrors themselves, distracting flashing pointing lights.
One of the problems with a test drive and having driving a vehicle like this is that you don’t have enough time to work out what all those buttons do!
I know there is a lot more that this vehicle has to offer: voice control, GPS navigation, a twin sunroof with blinds. All electrically powered, of course. But to sum it up: awesome and impressive.
Oh, one other gripe: why couldn’t I keep it?
Mercedes-Benz GLS 500 4Matic SUV