If you’re a movie company executive or some sort of prince sitting on a literal ocean of oil, or an up-and-coming rapper, the Mercedes-Benz GLS Grand Edition is for you. I guess it’s also for you if you’re the sort of person that desires to live in a tract McMansion, and are still jealous over your neighbor’s gold scores. But what gives? What makes the Mercedes-Benz GLS Grand Edition so Grand in the first place?
Well there’s some stuff here and there that does distinguish it from its lesser brethren, but there are also a couple of glaring mistakes.
First mistake: Grand. Isn’t that a Pontiac branding thing? Don’t they make Grand Ams and all that? Boy, somebody from Stuttgart better check in with the lawyers at PMD or using this “Grand” terminology . . . what’s that? Oh, right, right. Pontiac is out of business. Maybe that’s not a good sign. Maybe using self-aggrandizing terms like “Grand” isn’t a good move, selling too much sizzle and not enough steak, as it were.
Second mistake: Brown. Now, brown’s a great color and all that, and it does work well on interiors (brown leather and such) but brown as a paint color? Big mistake. And that’s the color I see on all the press photos from Mercedes-Benz for the GLS450. Yes, it will (better) come in other colors, which is great, because I distrust someone who thinks brown is a good color for a car. Brown cars never look clean. Not even Jay Leno can help you there.
Safety & Performance
So what makes the Mercedes-Benz GLS Grand Edition so grand? First off, it’s all about the design direction. The Mercedes-Benz GLS aims to merge luxury with notable levels of comfort, along with nimble chassis dynamics (or as nimble as a huge box of an SUV can get), along with fully integrated safety systems. I have no doubt about their commitment to and execution of safety. Mercs are great in that respect. Built like bank vaults. Always have been, always will be.
The Grand Edition will be available for both engine-based models of the GLS, the GLS450 4MATIC and GLS550 4MATIC SUVs. That translates into a 4.5-liter V6 and a bigger block 5.5-liter V8. The GLS450 4MATIC puts out 362 horsepower and 369 lb-ft. of torque; the GLS550 4MATIC is rated at 449 horsepower and 516 lb-ft. of torque.
Lap of Luxury
The features that make the Grand Edition so exclusive focus on interior and exterior design elements. The very lavish interiors feature Porcelain and Espresso Brown and designo Nappa leather seats. The chairs also get an exclusive diamond quilting and special Budapest-design piping. And no, I have know idea what on Earth Budapest-design piping is or counts as, but Hungarians are interesting folks, so maybe the piping will be interesting too?
The interior uses open pore brown ash wood trim with light stripes and Nappa leather on the dashboard. The Grand Editions also come with standard ambient lighting and Espresso Brown velour floor mats. Mercedes-Benz goes perilously close to the edge of making the interior of the GLS Grand Edition look like a waterbed store from 1977, but thankfully they don’t tumble over.
On the outside, the GLS450 4MATIC comes with 20-inch, 10-spoke two-tone wheels and an advanced LED Intelligent Light System, while the big-block GLS550 4MATIC comes with 21-inch wheels and Active LED headlamps. Both are finished with special “Grand Edition” badging.
Not So Special Edition
Special “Grand Edition” badging . . . sigh, that’s how it all starts. And this is just a word of caution to Mercedes-Benz, because honestly, they don’t strike me as being a stupid car company, but stuff like special “Grand Edition” badging is what American car companies tried to pull during the height of the Malaise Era to make otherwise pointless cars seem special. Wanna make that Chevy into a Caddy, put in leather seats and slap on a crest with some ducks on it. Sales of the Mustang II less than what you’d like? No worries, just give it a hideous trim package and call it the Cobra II! I know this goes without saying, but do not do that Mercedes-Benz. You’re better than that, and we, the customer are better than that and we all know it.
If, for some reason, you want to let the world know just how special you are, then perhaps, just perhaps, the Mercedes-Benz GLS Grand Edition is the ride for you. The Detroit show is right around the corner (that would be the North American International Auto Show), so expect to see the Grand Edition’s official reveal then. It will be available and in dealers by mid-year.
Tony Borroz has spent his entire life racing antique and sports cars. He is the author of Bricks & Bones: The Endearing Legacy and Nitty-Gritty Phenomenon of The Indy 500, available in paperback or Kindle format.