New York Auto Show - The Mercedes-Benz GLS recently had its turf invaded by the first-ever BMW X7, but the Stuttgart warrior is now fighting back with a new-generation three-row SUV.

The appropriate keyword here, according to the Mercedes publicity machine, is more... more space, more comfort and more luxury.

The new GLS is 22mm wider and 77mm longer than its predecessor, with 60mm going into the wheelbase to improve passenger space, and on that note all three rows of seats are fully electrically adjustable, while those in the third row can be lowered into the floor.

While standard variants seat seven, those seeking a snazzier experience can opt for a six-seater variant, which has individual chairs in the middle row.

When it comes to the luxury side of things, Mercedes claims this is the S Class of SUVs and to back that up the carmaker has thrown in some indulgent optional gadgetry, including an internet-connected MBUX Rear Seat Entertainment system with two 29.5cm touchscreens, as well as a rear seat tablet that allows full control of all the MBUX entertainment and comfort functions, including the optional ‘comfort’ rear seats with individual climate control and lumbar massage function.

Of Course, the GLS also comes with an upgraded version of the front cockpit wide-screen MBUX system with its ‘artificially intelligent’ personal assistant, which made its debut in the A-Class.

"The GLS combines modern luxury with the character of an off-roader," says chief design officer Gorden Wagener.

"The interior is a synthesis of modern, luxurious aesthetics, hallmark SUV practicality, and digital high-tech. In our view, the new GLS therefore offers the best of all these worlds."

On the subject of off-roading, all GLS models come with a 9G-Tronic automatic transmission and 4Matic permanent all-wheel-drive system with a multi-plate clutch that allows fully variable torque distribution between the axles, of between 0 and 100 percent.

Furthermore, as an option, buyers can specify a transfer case that’s specifically configured for off-road driving, and which includes a reduction gear for steep obstacles.

Driver assistance gadgets for the concrete jungle include Active Stop-and-Go Assist for semi-autonomous driving in traffic up to 60km/h and to get you there in the greatest comfort, Airmatic air suspension with adaptive damping is fitted as standard.

The South African engine line-up has yet to be confirmed, but buyers abroad (depending on the country) have a wide range of petrol and diesel engines to choose from.

All petrol engines have an integrated starter-generator and EQ Boost function.

Among these, the new GLS 580 4Matic ushers in a new electrified V8 powerplant, which produces 360kW and 700Nm, with a further 16kW and 250Nm available via EQ boost over short periods.

Mercedes also offers a GLS 450 4Matic six-cylinder hybrid petrol model with 270kW and 500Nm, plus 16kW/250Nm on EQ Boost.

Europe and other markets will receive two six-cylinder diesel engine options in the form of the GLS 350d with 210kW and 600Nm and the GLS 400d with 243kW/700Nm.

The South African line-up and pricing will be confirmed nearer to launch.

IOL Motoring