With high-luxe SUVs from Aston Martin, Rolls-Royce, Bentley, and Lamborghini now on the market, it was only a matter of time before Daimler, which considers itself the world’s preeminent luxury automaker, brought a Maybach-branded utility vehicle to that market segment. Sure, there was the gaudy G650 Landaulet variant of the prior iteration of the G-Class. However, that was a very limited production model, unlike the new 2020 Mercedes-Maybach GLS introduced at the Guangzhou auto show in China earlier this week.
In taking on competitors like the Bentley Bentayga and Rolls-Royce Cullinan, Daimler has put itself at a seeming disadvantage. Those SUVs do not share bodies with lower priced models, while the Maybach GLS is, as the name indicates, based on Mercedes-Benz’s full size GLS SUV. While there are some styling changes to distinguish it from the more plebeian GLS, the family resemblance on the outside is hard to miss, which perhaps explains why the Maybach team put so much effort into the sybaritic interior, which even has its own curated fragrance.
To visually separate it from the GLS that doesn’t carry a second M, the Mercedes-Maybach GLS gets a new chrome grille with vertical elements similar to its Maybach S-Class and Pullman siblings. That’s certainly not the only brightwork on the vehicle, as generous helpings of chrome surround the front air intakes and all of the windows, as well as the lower front fascia, rocker panels, and rear end. Even the exhaust pipe tips get the shiny treatment. The aforementioned rocker panels sit over another distinguishing feature of the double-M GLS: automatically extending and retracting anodized aluminum running boards to make ingress and egress for the high riding vehicle a bit easier. Don’t worry if some of your passengers aren’t svelte—the running boards may be made of lightweight alloy, but they have a capacity of 441 pounds each.
Speaking of weight, the press release does not indicate how much the new Maybach GLS weighs, but in an era when Aston Martin introduces a vehicle that’s within hailing distance of three tons, don’t expect it to satisfy the ghost of Colin Chapman.
Twenty two inch alloy wheels are standard, while 23-inch wheels emulating the look of the front grille are optional. The exterior gets a classy two tone finish, with eight color choices, and in case the commoners can’t tell from the shiny trim that it’s a Maybach, there’s a substantial logo from the sub-brand prominently displayed on the D-pillar.
Inside, the differences from the standard GLS become a bit more noticeable. While the 123.4-inch wheelbase of the standard GLS is retained, the rear seat is not, which means even the most demanding Chinese businessmen will bask in an impressive 43.4 inches of legroom—unless, of course, they choose to put the front passenger seat in “chauffeur position,” which increases legroom behind it an additional ten inches or so. The standard configuration is five passengers, but the Maybach GLS can be ordered with four seats as well, which frees up space for the optional refrigerator.
Why a refrigerator? Well, you need someplace to chill the champagne for the bespoke champagne flutes that come with the car, as does a folding table for your champagne-enhanced picnics.
Fitting for a vehicle with a chauffeur position, there is a rear seat entertainment system and all of the luxury features you’d expect, including massaging seats that are heated, cooled, and ventilated, a roller blind for privacy, and an electrochromic panoramic glass sunroof.
The new luxury SUV is powered by a twin-turbo 4.0 liter V-8 gasoline engine that normally produces 550 horsepower and 539 lb-ft of torque, though the EQ Boost system provides an additional 21 hp and a whopping 184 lb-ft more torque for brief periods when more acceleration is needed. Speaking of acceleration, despite its heft, the North American version of the Mercedes-Maybach GLS, in 600 4Matic trim, gets from a standing start to 60 mph in an estimated 4.8 seconds with a top speed electronically limited to 130 mph (155 mph on Euro-spec models).
The chassis is fitted with Airmatic air suspension, which adds Adaptive Damping System Plus to E-Active Body Control, powered by the vehicle’s 48 volt electrical system, and the Maybach GLS gets an additional Maybach-exclusive driving mode for maximum comfort.
The Mercedes-Maybach GLS goes on sale in the United States late next year. Pricing has not yet been announced.