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Mercedes-Benz GL 350 and GL 63 AMG touch down, make craters

If you’ve got a big family, plenty of cash and a desire to show the world you’re considerably more affluent than the Qashqai-driving masses, you’ll want to keep an eye on the forthcoming Mercedes-Benz GL. Mercedes will unleash the latest GL 350 BlueTEC AMG and GL 63 AMG versions of its full-size luxury SUV in January 2013 and it’s given us a sprinkling of details as to what we can expect of the monster 4×4.

This isn't an off road course. The GL drove into a small pothole and the road turned into this.
This isn’t an off road course. The GL drove into a small pothole and the road turned into this.

The GL was always a big car, but this new model is larger still – 21mm longer and 10mm taller than the car it replaces. It’s so big the glove compartment has an echo and when you climb inside the cabin your ears pop. The car is 5,099mm long and 2,124mm (or nearly seven feet) wide. To put that in context, the Department for Transport’s minimum width for a UK parking bay is 5ft 11in.

The upshot of all this girth is the fact the Mercedes GL 350 and GL 63 AMG have plenty of interior space for two up front, three in the rear and even two kids/medium-sized adults in the electronically-operated third row of seats at the rear. When these seats aren’t in use, boot space is around 1,300 litres. With the second row of seats folded, that opens up to roughly 2,260 litres – more than you get in a small van.

Obviously, there’s plenty of room for tech inside the new GL 350 and GL 63 AMG. Arguably the most important inclusion is active park assist, which parallel parks the big SUV for you – provided you can find a space large enough. If you’ve got a boat license and fancy doing it manually, the GL has an optional 360-degree birds-eye camera system that lets you see a top down view of the vehicle is in relation to its surroundings.

Other options include a crossswind assist system, which compensates for the effect gusts have on the vehicle, an on- & off-road package, which lets the car better adapt to driving on surfaces other than tarmac, and a driving assistance package that includes active blind spot assist, active lane keeping assist and distronic plus — an advanced cruise control system that lets you follow the vehicle in front without having to accelerate or brake.

So, with all this mass and all stuff the GL is slow, right? Wrong. In GL 63 AMG guise, the car’s 5.4-litre engine generates 557hp and 760Nm of torque, so it’ll do 0-62mph in 4.9 seconds and 155mph. Fuel consumption is, quite remarkably, 23mpg, though its CO2 output of 288g/km won’t appease asthma sufferers.

If that’s too rich for your blood, you’ll probably be better off with the GL 350 BlueTEC AMG model, which uses a 2.9-litre, 258hp engine. This is good for 0-62mph in 7.9 seconds, 137mpg, 35.4mpg and 209g/km. That’s not bad in a car that’s the size of a small bus.

The GL 63 AMG will set you back a handsome £91,680, while its little brother, the GL 350 BlueTEC AMG will cost £59,465. Both will be available from January 2013.

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