When you think accomplished off-roader, the Mercedes-Benz GLS isn't usually near the top of the list, but the 2020 model that debuted at the New York auto show recently aims to change that.
Mercedes have been working on some exciting technology which it says raises the bar for the GLS' off-road abilities. Called, E-Active Body Control (EABC), the system combines air springs and electro-hydraulic dampers and, with the help of a 48-volt system and a front-mounted camera to scan the terrain, smoothes out ruts and bumps.
Each damper receives a hydraulic pump using pressured oil that can push or pull each wheel independently, making for a soft and comfortable ride as the system absorbs the bumps before they reach the cabin.
It's an extraordinary system, as you can see in the video below, that allows the new GLS to accomplish more off the beaten track than its predecessors, all in extreme comfort. It's the S-Class of the SUV world even though most owners would likely never hit the dunes or go over-landing for weeks at a time.
The most striking aspect of the new system is when compared to a vehicle fitted with the standard air suspension. The body remains flat and controlled without the bouncing associated with most other systems, putting the air-suspension to shame.
Andreas Zygan, Mercedes-Benz's development chief for SUVs, told MotorTrend that the brand wanted the GLS to be safer, more spacious and more capable. "The car is taking care of the driver. The current GLS cannot do this," as he drifts the big SUV through the sand of Big Dune in Nevada, USA. According to Zygan, even though it's unlikely they'll ever use them, owners like to understand the capabilities of the vehicles.
But, the most impressive feature you'll see below is something called Free Driving Assistant (FDA), also part of the EABC system. Basically, should the big Merc get stuck in the sand, simply put the vehicle in reverse, activate the FDA, and the SUV starts bouncing on its air springs. A short prod on the throttle and, voila, the car frees itself. It only takes a few seconds and works in snow and other soft surfaces too.
So, besides a spacious cabin, larger cargo area and some fancy new tech, we don't have much more for now but look forward to seeing what else the 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLS has in store when it launches.