- The Mercedes-Maybach GLS600 4Matic sits atop the high-end-luxury SUV market alongside the equally new Aston Martin DBX.
- The new SUV shares its structure and dimensions with the "regular" Mercedes GLS and the Mercedes-AMG 63 SUVs that were also just unveiled this week.
- This ultraluxurious Maybach is powered by an electrified version of the AMG 558-hp 4.0-liter V-8, teamed with a nine-speed automatic transmission.
The very top of the SUV market is set to become increasingly crowded. Yesterday Aston Martin showed us images of its forthcoming DBX crossover for the first time. Now Mercedes has unveiled the Mercedes-Maybach GLS600 at the Guangzhou auto show in China.
Maybach is no longer a stand-alone brand: the more than $1 billion that Daimler lost producing the 57/62 sedan saw to that. Instead, it has become the badge that Mercedes reserves for its grandest and most expensive models. As such, the Maybach GLS shares its core structure and dimensions with the regular version of the GLS, and also the far more visually modest AMG 63 that Mercedes has also just unveiled. But potential buyers for the 600 needn’t worry: onlookers will be left in no doubt they are looking at the range topper.
The Maybach GLS gets both a vertically slatted radiator grille and lower intakes covered in chrome mesh. Below that, a chrome bumper protector is intended to—as the official release puts it—"indicate the vehicle's considerably refined SUV character." It stays shiny when viewed side on, with chrome door trim that emphasizes the A-pillar (and therefore the divide between driver and driven) as well as a Maybach badge on the rearmost pillar. There is more matching metal detailing at the rear, with a finishing strip at the base of the tailgate and a slightly grander take on the regular GLS's metal bumper trim. Mercedes says that 22-inch cast aluminum wheels will be standard, with forged alloy 23-inchers optional.
While it will be possible to buy a Maybach GLS painted in one color, Mercedes will also offer the option of a factory two-tone finish, with seven combinations including blue/ silver, white/ black, black/ gold and green/ silver. The company is also particularly proud of the power operated running boards, which are similar to the ones we love on the top-spec Ram pickups. They are concealed inside the sills when not in use but which will automatically motor into place when a door is opened, a process claimed to take only one second. Each running board is 81.1 inches long and, to further reinforce where the most important occupants are expected to be, are wider at the rear than the front. Standard air suspension will also lower the GLS's body by an inch to improve access.
While obviously similar to the cabin of the existing GLS, the Maybach adds plusher trim including a nappa-leather-lined dashboard and wood trim with a pinstripe effect. In the back, a more comprehensive reworking has been wrought when compared to what we must now think of as the everyday GLS. While the pure Mercedes version has three rows of seats, the Maybach has only two, with either a three-seat rear or the option of a pair of separate reclinable chairs. The rear seats are set 4.7 inches farther back than in the normal GLS, with legroom of up to 43.2 inches, or 52.8 inches with the front passenger seat motored forward in chauffeur position. The rear seats can also be reclined by up to 43.5 degrees and feature lower leg supports. Visible tech includes multiple touchscreens and details like 64 color LED lighting. Like the Rolls-Royce Cullinan, the Maybach GLS has a fixed partition between the passenger compartment and the trunk to improve refinement. There is still claimed to be 18.5 cubic feet of stowage back there.
Against expectations created by the 600 badging, the mechanical specification is disappointing. While the range-topping Mercedes-Maybach S650 sedan still rocks a twin-turbocharged V-12 engine, the GLS will instead use a gently electrified version of the AMG M177 4.0-liter V-8, which produces peaks of 558 horsepower and 538 lb-ft through good old internal combustion. An integrated 48-volt starter-generator can add assistance to this, up to 22 horsepower and 184 lb-ft for brief periods. Mercedes claims the 6140-pound Maybach SUV will be able to dispatch the zero-to-62-mph dash in 4.9 seconds and go on to an electronically limited top speed of 155 mph. It will also feature selective cylinder deactivation, running on just four cylinder under light loads between 800 and 3200 rpm to boost economy. As with the regular GLS, and also the Aston DBX, which shares a non-electrified version of the same engine, the 600 will use Merc's 9G nine-speed automatic transmission.
The Maybach will use its 48-volt system to power an active anti-roll system which uses an electrically driven pump to counteract body roll, with a Curve mode that will lean the car into bends by up to three degrees, the opposite direction from the lean angle normally created by lateral acceleration. A road-surface-scanning camera reads ahead to spot bumps and compressions, pre-adjusting the suspension to get ready for imperfections. The Maybach also shares the ability of the GLS and the air-sprung GLE to attempt to shake itself free if stuck off-road, lowering and raising the suspension several times in quick succession. On-road, in addition to the normal Comfort and Sport dynamic modes, there is a Maybach setting that's designed to maximize ride comfort for rear-seat passengers.
The Maybach GLS600's unveiling in China gives a good indication of where Mercedes expects the car to exert its strongest appeal; the use of a relatively small engine will also benefit the car under Chinese taxation rules. But it will be sold in other markets, offering an alternative to those considering the Bentayga, Cullinan, and even Aston Martin DBX. And it's built in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. So we will bring you more details about U.S. plans and pricing as soon as we have them.
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