Mercedes-Benz has spruced-up its new GL by adding style enhancements, interior tweaks and an extensive line of equipment for its premier luxury SUV. The new model has exemplary on and off-road manners while giving buyers opulence and comfort... think of it as a 4x4 in a tuxedo.Image galleryKeep reading to find out more about the 410kW AMG variant and armoured bullet-shrugging ML headed for South Africa later in 2013.ENGINESThe 2013 GL range consists of one V6 diesel, the 350 and two V8's, a 500 and a monstrous G63 AMG. All engines are mated to a seven-speed auto.The 350 is powered by a six-cyclinder BlueTEC engine capable of 190kW at 3600rpm and 620Nm from 1600-2400rpm with performance data of 0-100 in 7.9 seconds and top speed of 220km/h. Fuel consumption is rated at 7.4-8.0 litres/100km with an emissions figure of 209g/100km.The new engine delivers 35kW/80Nm more power and torque than its predecessor and sheds 90kg. The V8 500 produces 320kW at 5250rpm and 700Nm from 1800-3500Nm, dashes to 100km/h in 5.4 seconds and has a limited top speed of 250km/h. Fuel consumption is rated at about 11.4 litres/100km with CO2 emissions of 269g/100km.The AMG 5.5 V8 biturbo produces 410kW/760Nm which translates to 100km/h in 4.9 seconds, top speed of 250 km/h (electronically limited) and 12.3 litres/100km with CO2 emissions of 288g/km.The GL has six driving modes: Comfort, Auto, Off-road 1 (light off-road terrain and sand), Offroad 2 (tough off-road and climbing), Winter and Sport.DRIVING ITThe 2013 GL delivers outstanding ride quality, especially in Comfort mode, easily on par with the S-Class. Flat-footing the GL generates the grumble of the V6 or throaty snarl of the V8 as the GL rockets away under its Porsche-hunting 0-100km acceleration. Drivers should be wary, though, as its easy to get carried away and forget you’re hurtling 2455kg of SUV on our local roads, especially around bends. Fortunately Mercedes has added a host of driving enhancement kit such as the Active Curve System (ACS) to keep you on the tar. It’s astounding how hard you can push the SUV into a corner and come out utterly composed. The AMG variant is pure grin-inducing vehicular lunacy. It’s perfectly poised through bends and soaks up bumps and undulations. Sure, it's fun for a white-knuckle cruise by a bunch of motoring journos, but I shudder to think what well-off soccer moms will do with one.My only issue with the GL lies in its steering. There’s too much electronic interference, leaving you feeling detached and uninvolved. I suppose it’s done deliberately, given the target market. It’s not just a pretty face. The GL was bred for the great outdoors taking inclines, rough terrain and steep descents in its stride. Now let's find a buyer who will actually take it off-road? (No, those of you who might, don't moan - tell us about it!)DESIGNThe new GL keeps the traditional large-SUV proportions of its predecessor but has crisper lines, design tweaks and diode lights. It's 5.1m long, 1.8m tall and has a three-metre wheelsbase The rear has become more conservative, using nearly all red, two-piece light clusters and a roof spoiler. The rear lights are similar to those of BMW. The AMG benefits from chromed detailing and exhaust, high-performance brakes and unique alloy rim; I think the automaker has been rather “soft” in the application of its premier sports trim.INSIDE The interior delivers the opulence we’ve come to expect from a vehicle costing more than R1-million. Soft leather, wood trim, comfortable seats and a host of creature comforts permit this G-Class its Luxury nomenclature, and then some. The cabin layout is typically Mercedes-Benz with controls and decals either covered in leather or high-quality materials. Instruments are intuitive and the automaker’s COMAND system takes care of your infotainment and satnav needs courtesy of a 17.8cm screen.The bird's-eye parking cameras will enable GL drivers to navigate in and out of shopping mall car parks and, off-road, give a view of passing rocks and the edge of a mountain track while the occupants' derrieres are toasted or chilled through four seat-heating settings.The AMG can be kitted out with a Bang & Olufsen audio system, offering 1200W and 14 speakers. Standard kit on the AMG includes stainless-steel door sills, sports pedals and exclusive mats.Most seven-seaters appear great on paper while in practice you’re usually left with a tiny third-row bench more suited for toddlers. This GL is the first seven-seater I’ve come across where an average adult like me (1.8m, 90kg yeah, yeah I’ll have my BMI checked) can sit comfortably in a space usually reserved for those who have their legs chopped off at the knees.The third row of seats can be accesed via the “easy entry” system or optional power controls. Cargo room is somewhat limited with the third row upright; with second and third rows folded flat the transforms the interior into a voluminous cargo hold.RIVALSThe GL takes on rivals such as the Toyota Land Cruiser, Audi Q7, Porsche Cayenne and Range Rover Sport. Sure, the Range Rover is the benchmark for 4x4 prowess and the Cayenne a stylish and capable off-roader, but the GL has more tech than the former and is on par in the bush with the latter. If any BMW X5 owners want to rise to the luxury 4x4 challenge, just give them a condescending pat on the head followed with, “Sure boet, whatever you say...”The GL combines all the limousine qualities of the S-Class with the ML’s 4x4 prowess. At more than R1-million, the GL fills the niche of “family-orientated CEO” in search of a luxury ride he/she can use while on vacation with the kids. That being said, Mercedes-Benz hopes to sell 300 a year. BULLET-SHRUGGING MLEarlier in 2013 we reported on an armoured ML capable of shrugging off bullets. Good news for local VIPS is that the apocalypse-surviving M-Guard will arrive in SA later in 2013. The local range of armoured Mercs includes the E and S-Class and in 2013, paranoid celebs and politicians who actually think anybody cares enough about them to plan a hit, will be able to order their anti AK-47 ML courtesy of Mercedes-Benz Guard division. The cars have bullet-resistant windows, steel-reinforced doors and underbody armoured capable of withstanding grenade explosions. Powering the M-Guard is the 190kW V6 diesel; the armour adds 600kg to the standard M-Class. Mercedes-Benz will showcase the latest addition to its VIP protection models at the 2013 Johannesburg auto how in October.PRICES:GL 350 BlueTEC 4Matic - R966 246GL 500 4MATIC BlueEfficiency - R1 106 859GL 63 AMG - R1 669 636 All models are sold with a six-year or 100 000km PremiumDrive maintenance package.Wheels24 reader Jason Johnson said: "Wheels24 should encourage South African buyers to submit photos of their own GL's being driven off-road."Email us and publish your images on Wheels24. Please remember to add where the images were taken, model and year.