A hefty body weight presents some opportunities, and some challenges, when it comes to vehicle dynamics. Big bodies are good for not being unsettled over small, higher-frequency bumps and lumps; like trying to push over a sumo wrestler, it takes some doing. But, likewise, if that wrestler gets unbalanced, it takes the big fella a while to right himself.

Granted, there is none of the dynamic charm of Land Rover’s latest product line - this a benign machine with ethereal, finger-twirling steering - but the GL benefits from the full support of its air suspension, fidgeting only slightly and inoffensively over British roads, and it drives in a perfectly acceptable fashion.

Nic Cackett

Nic Cackett

Road tester
It seems a shame that you have to option up the Mercedes to unleash its full potential

Those seeking more compliance and cornering capabilities will, however, want to equip the 2710kg GL with Mercedes’ optional Active Curve system, whose adjustable anti-roll bars keep a pretty keen check on body movements. The set-up is adjustable via a couple of centre console-mounted switches, which change suspension and stability control settings for differing terrain or towing.

Auto will do for most conditions, and we left it in that for cornering photos (look at the shots and you’ll see a GL that is neither pitching, heaving nor wallowing). It retains, for a car of its girth, impressive composure over even severely cambered and crested asphalt. Not as composed, we’d say, as a Range Rover – it feels marginally less agile, a degree more nose-led and a lot less rewarding – but pretty decent nonetheless, given the sheer size and supposed off-road capability.

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And the secondary ride? The way it deals with those little nuggety lumps and bumps? Pretty decent, all told. Somewhere, in attempting to keep a check on the body movements, we suspect that a touch of compliance has been sacrificed with the addition of the Active Curve System, but the compromise is probably worth making, given the extra high-speed composure.

Nevertheless, in either specification this is a car that steers steadily, seems unaffected by crosswinds and makes a supremely able and relaxed long-distance companion. 

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