Those of you who read my last post during the Christmas break know I decided to change family cars just before the holiday season (if anyone against all odds had better things to do and missed this historical piece of literature, you can find it here). The decision not to upgrade my old w212 E-Class to the new, face-lifted E400 was primarily driven by a feeling that it would be same same but not too different, which for the money involved didn’t feel very rewarding. Another slight concern was the character of the new engine, which with its double-turbo setup invites to a slightly too racy driving style for a family car (well, depending on the driver I guess….). Finally, the need for space in a family with two children and two dogs who regularly travel through Europe haven’t changed. So what to do?
A revolution looks different…
Given my by now ten years satisfaction with various cars of the Stuttgart brand, the most natural was to first think of alternatives within the MB range. And actually the search never went much further. When you build a house, you rather build a room too much than one too little. Using the same waterproof logic, I opted for the top of the range in size terms that they build in Stuttg, sorry, Alabama – the Mercedes Benz GL 350.
It should be said right away that the GL 350 doesn’t really fit on this blog given it is obviously quite far from the notion of thrill of driving. But it is very close to perfection in another thrill – that of riding. The comfort of everything in this 5.12-metre car, from the chairs and noise level to the chassis and air suspension is simply fabulous, especially considering the 2.4 ton weight and the amount of people and luggage the giant luggage compartment will swallow. The 3-litre diesel engine producing 258 bhp but more importantly 620 Nm from very low revs fits the car perfectly, as does the 7G automatic that has been criticized in other models for being slow (no need for more speedy gear changes in the GL). When tested by a Swedish car magazine, the conclusion was that a ride in the GL never becomes stressful, which is actually a good way of summing it up. It does however become an enjoyable travel experience very quickly!
Picking up the GL just before the Christmas break, our virgin ride took us from Zurich to Sweden’s west coast, a drive of 1600 km that we did in 15 hours and in ultimate comfort and with a diesel consumption that rarely exceeded 10 l / 100 kms. In the many we have done this exercise, never has a drive been more comfortable! And should you need to transport your friends, cousins or step parents somewhere, having those third row seats that by pushing a button flip out of the floor is really quite handy.
A very comfortable space to spend many hours!
So all well in the end? Well yes, so far I am more than happy with my decision. The thrill of driving will in future be fulfilled by my TR4, a job it does very well, the thrill of riding will be perfectly satisfied by the GL. There was though that small thing the salesman mentioned to me when picking up the car: that there is a very good tuning solution from Brabus that ups the performance and especially the torque to over 700 Nm. It is not very expensive and if you talk nicely to your MB garage, they will also look between their fingers in terms of not letting it affect the guarantee (tuning the engine otherwise typically means you lose your guarantee coverage). Not that you strictly need it, but as we all know (and especially those of us who have taken a test drive in a Tesla), torque is kind of addictive… Should I go down that route, the experiences of it will of course be posted on the blog. In the meantime, if you need (a lot!) of luggage space and look for a highly practical and sublimely comfortable travel companion, look no further!