If you’re shopping for a genuine seven-seat SUV, it’s worth reiterating just how limited your options are. The Audi Q7 is arguably still up to the task with its own three-metre wheelbase and is substantially cheaper than the GL in entry-level V6 diesel form.
But it’s long in the tooth now and is dynamically inferior to the new Mercedes. The Land Rover Discovery isn’t – quite the opposite – and a GL 350 budget buys you a top-line HSE Luxury model, but its standard back row is for children only. Ditto the optional third row that can be added to the new Range Rover Sport.
Considering its kerb weight, the GL 350 measures up well on projected running costs.
We didn’t get close to Mercedes’ quoted 35.3mpg combined economy figure – we saw 33.2mpg on our touring run and 27.6mpg overall – but, using it as a comparative figure, it’s not an unfeasible distance behind the 39.2mpg declared for the Q7 or the 38.7mpg claimed for the TDV6 Range Rover Sport.
The Audi – in relatively benign 201bhp form – is the class leader on CO2 emissions at 189g/km (compared with 194g/km from the Range Rover and 209g/km for the GL), but as this equates only to a marginal extra increase in the GL’s annual VED rate, it’s unlikely to sway a potential Mercedes customer.