So far, Mercedes has done the reintroduction of the Maybach brand right. No longer a maker of ostentatious limousines on outdated platforms, Maybach is now an ultra-exclisive sub-brand of Mercedes, like AMG.
The 2016 Mercedes-Maybach S600, the first car to wear the new Mercedes-Maybach badge, is a modified S-Class that Mercedes calls “the highest-quality vehicle in the world,” with amenities that rival the best that Rolls-Royce and Bentley have to offer. Mercedes has not ruled out the possibility of a full Mercedes-Maybach line, also like AMG, and with Bentley set to unveil the Bentley Bentayga SUV later this year, TopSpeed reports that the next Mercedes-Maybach is likely to be a Bentayga fighter rumored to be ready by the 2018 model year.
While the S600 is in rarified company with the Bentley Flying Spur and Rolls-Royce Ghost Series II, the Mercedes SUV will be competing in the small ultra-luxury SUV market with the Bentayga, the higher trims of the Porsche Cayenne, and the Range Rover Autobiography Black Long Wheelbase.
The Benz will be based on the seven-passenger GL550 SUV but will probably be stretched several inches for larger rear quarters and rechristened the Mercedes-Maybach GLS500. Exterior modifications will be subtle, but the GLS500 will feature a revised front end with a grille and headlamps similar to the S600, Maybach badges on the D-pillar, and unique doors to accommodate the stretched wheelbase.
With nearly every interior surface of the S600 covered in wood, metal, or hand-stitched leather, expect the GLS500 to receive the same treatment. Rear seating will probably be replaced with two executive thrones similar to the S600’s, with near full-reclining capability, climate controls, and a hot-stone massage function. The S600 is also the “world’s quietest production car,” so the GLS should benefit from Maybach’s already-proven sound insulation. A refrigerator and Mercedes’s self-tinting Magic Sky sunroof will both be optional.
The current GL550 is propelled by a powerful 429 horsepower twin-turbo V8 that takes the two-and-a-half ton SUV from zero to 60 in 5.4 seconds. While this would be a capable base engine, Mercedes is also working on a twin-turbo V12 version to take on the Bentayga’s expected twin-turbo W12. This more powerful GLS would be designated the GLS600.
Both engines will be mated to Mercedes’s nine-speed automatic transmission for smooth shifting, and the GLS will drop the current GL’s off-road-ready suspension for Mercedes’s Airmatic system for a ride similar to the S600 car.
Mercedes has a capable luxury SUV platform in the GL550. The big Benz already competes with most of Range Rover’s lineup, and the added cachet of the recently rehabbed Maybach name should make the GLS500 a popular and slightly less expensive alternative to the unproven Bentayga.
The Mercedes-Maybach is expected to start around $150,000 and slide nicely between the $144,000 Land Rover and the expected $300,000 Bentley. We’d imagine that options for the car won’t come cheaply. While the Range Rover and Bentley will be formidable competitors, the recent success of Mercedes-Maybach proves that Mercedes is serious about building the best cars in the world, so expect nothing less from the GLS500
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