German tuner goes crazy on Mercedes-Benz’s full-sized SUV

As the full-sized SUV in Mercedes-Benz’s lineup, there’s a lot of pressure on the GLS to appeal to a wide range of customers, ranging from the off-road types to those who have big families. The multi-purpose function of the GLS-Class extends to the tuning world where aftermarket tuners like Brabus determine a specific course of action on how to best approach the SUVs capabilities. For its part, Brabus did what it does best by giving the GLS an engine upgrade of a lifetime that ends with the SUV’s biturbo V-8 engine netting a 838 horsepower and 1,069 pound-feet of torque.

Those power figures are the unquestioned highlight of the program and is the biggest reason why the program is called the “850 XL.” But there’s more to this kit than the massive engine upgrade. It also features a comprehensive wide body aero kit, a new set of 23-inch wheels, and modifications to the interior that really spruces up the life between those doors.

It is an extensive kit and it’s indicative of what Brabus is capable of when it goes all-out on a tuning program. Some tuners exaggerate their tuning kits with names dripping in hyperbole. Brabus has no need for that because its works, both past and present, resoundingly speak for themselves. In the case of the 850 XL kit for the GLS, Brabus has once again developed a tuning program that deserves its own holler.

Continue after the jump to read the full review.

  • 2016 Mercedes GLS-Class "850 XL" by Brabus
  • Year:
    2016
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    V8
  • Horsepower @ RPM:
    838
  • Torque @ RPM:
    1069
  • Displacement:
    5.5 L
  • 0-60 time:
    4.2 sec.
  • Top Speed:
    186 mph
  • car segment:
  • body style:

Exterior

2016 Mercedes GLS-Class "850 XL" by Brabus High Resolution Exterior
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2016 Mercedes GLS-Class "850 XL" by Brabus High Resolution Exterior
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2016 Mercedes GLS-Class "850 XL" by Brabus High Resolution Exterior
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As intimidating as the Mercedes GLS looks in those glam photos, it still doesn’t paint the whole picture of what Brabus did to the exterior to make the GLS look like a titan on four wheels. The all-black paint finish is to be expected, but even I wasn’t expecting the full naked carbon fiber aero kit treatment. But in true Brabus fashion, the full-sized SUV got totally dressed in the kit, from the massive front spoiler, fender flares, side skirts, rear diffuser, and yes, even the Brabus grille got in on the fun. As if those aren’t enough, Brabus also fitted a set of its own 23-inch Monoblock “Platinum Edition” forged wheels for good measure.

Interior

2016 Mercedes GLS-Class "850 XL" by Brabus High Resolution Interior
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The GLS’ interior may be the last place you’d expect to get some upgrades, but lo and behold, Brabus also put its imprint on that section with healthy doses of fine leather and brown carbon. The aluminum pedals and the side sills also got upgrades, but those items don’t really scream “awesome!” unless they’re the only upgrades available.

Drivetrain

2016 Mercedes GLS-Class "850 XL" by Brabus High Resolution Interior Drivetrain
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And so here we are; the real reason behind the “850 XL” name. Those who follow the German tuner’s works closely will tell you that no program is complete without the tuner doing something to the program’s engine. In this instance, the subject of Brabus’ whimsical tuning hands is the SUV’s 5.5-liter biturbo V-8 engine. The first order of business was boring out the engine’s displacement to 6.0 liters. When that was done, the tuner put its experience in engine modification to good use, helping the V-8 increase its output to a maniacal 838 horsepower and 1,069 pound-feet of torque. Given that the SUV’s standard output is 577 horses and 561 pound-feet of twist, I’d say that the power increase is a legitimate result of a hard day’s work. All that extra power helps the GLS sprint from 0 to 62 mph in just 4.2 seconds, close to a full second quicker than the stock version. Top speed is limited to just 186 mph on account of those new tires. Anything faster and those tires are likely to go bald faster than LeBron James.

Pricing

No word yet on how much the 850 XL is going to cost. I don’t expect Brabus to release the price anytime soon either, so if there’s any interest in the program and what it does to the Mercedes GLS-Class, the best way to get a price quote is to contact the tuner directly.

Competition

Cadillac Escalade HPE800 by Hennessey

2015 Cadillac Escalade HPE550 By Hennessey Exterior
- image 550472

It’s safe to say that any talk of full-sized SUVs has to include Cadillac’s timeless Escalade. As one of the most popular SUVs of its time, the new Escalade is poised to return to its old prominence and what better way to get people talking about the Escalade than to have Hennessey in the fold. The American tuner has wasted little time giving the Escalade a tuning kit fit for its status and as you can expect, the program is loaded with upgrades, none more important than the massive engine tune that includes, among other things, a high-flow 2.9-liter supercharger system, a new air-to-water intercooler, and a high-flow intake manifold. The result is an output of 842 horsepower and 855 pound-feet of torque, enough to propel it from 0 to 60 mph in 3.9 seconds. Yep, a vehicle with a curb weight of 5,840 pounds hitting 60 mph faster than a stock BMW M2. Lord have mercy.

Read our full review on the Cadillac Escalade HPE800 by Hennessey here.

Conclusion

2016 Mercedes GLS-Class "850 XL" by Brabus High Resolution Exterior
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I mean, is there really anything left to say? Notwithstanding the fact that this is Brabus we’re talking about, it’s hard not to get psyched about what the 850 XL tuning kit can do for somebody’s Mercedes GLS-Class. I don’t own one, but I’m excited for those who do and have the opportunity to avail of the program. It’s probably going to cost more than a pretty penny, but considering what the GLS is in line for when Brabus gets a hold of it, I’d consider it money well-spent.

  • Leave it
    • * Definitely not for everyone
    • * Price could go up to the penthouse
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