Mercedes’ most luxurious SUV ever will have a Maybach badge

In Daimler AG speak, the double-M luxury car emblem no longer means "Maybach-Manufaktur.” Now the iconic emblem stands for "Mercedes-Maybach," with the ultra-luxurious 2016 Mercedes-Maybach S-Class already making a name for the new sub-brand. The super-lux S-Class is just the first of an entire range of models set to wear the new emblem, as the German carmaker is now gearing up to introduce a hyper-luxurious variant of its full-size SUV, the GL-Class. Since Mercedes-Benz has already vowed to change its models’ names for a better clarity, the GL-Class will be renamed GLS following its mid-cycle facelift at the end of 2015.

In other words, the next Maybach-branded model from Stuttgart is likely to be called Mercedes-Maybach GLS500. Some unsubstantiated reports suggest that the GLS may get the twin-turbocharged V-12 instead of the V-8 though, which would obviously transform the "500" into a "600." Either way, it is not the new name that will leave the biggest impression. Instead, the big news will be just how opulent this rig will be. I am talking about a car that Mercedes-Benz wants to pit against the upcoming Bentley Bentayga, which not be an easy feat.

Judging by the amount of upgrades that the S-Class has received to be worthy of the Mercedes-Maybach moniker, the GLS should probably up that amount even more to keep up with the Bentley, which will be designed from the ground up to be the most luxurious SUV on the planet. Either way, Mercedes-Benz is obviously no stranger to ultra-luxury features, so the only question remaining is how distinctive the Mercedes-Maybach GLS will be compared to the standard model.

Click past the jump to read more about the 2018 Mercedes-Maybach SUV.

  • 2018 Mercedes-Maybach GLS
  • Year:
    2018
  • Make:
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • 0-60 time:
    5.5 sec. (Est.)
  • Top Speed:
    155 mph (Est.)
  • Price:
    250000 (Est.)
  • Price:
  • car segment:
  • body style:

Rendering

2018 Mercedes-Maybach GLS Exclusive Renderings
- image 614172

Exterior

With the GL-Class already nearly as long as the standard S-Class, expect the uber-luxurious version of the facelifted GLS to increase slightly in size and wheelbase. With that in mind, the biggest design difference compared to a non-Maybach GLS will be the rear doors, which will be slightly larger and will not go over the rear wheel arches to better accommodate rear passengers. Other than that, a set of distinctive wheels, double-M badging, chrome-engulfed window sills and B-pillars will be the only differences as seen from the side.

The front end, apart from featuring an all-new design thanks to the facelift, will be customized subtly for the Maybach variant as well. Expect the grille to feature three chrome double louvers like on the Mercedes-Maybach S-Class, while the air intakes in the bumper will also get double the trim of the regular model.

As far as the rear goes, apart from Mercedes-Maybach badging, the tailpipe exits will have a distinctive design, with more chrome trim added in the bottom of the bumper. All in all, the call-word should be "subtle," not "sumptuous" as far as the exterior design is concerned.

Interior

Even though the current GL-Class is the only seven-seat SUV, the Maybach-infused GLS will probably switch to just four seats, with the rear passengers getting most of the new amenities and much more headroom and legroom. Two individual and reclining "first class" seats will occupy the rear part of the cabin, with rear passengers getting more toys to play than those up front.

A new center console will sit between the two occupants, giving them access to special settings for the massaging seats, two individual tables, a climate-control system with two zones, a heated or cooled double cup holder and controls for the available infotainment system. An optional refrigerator will most likely be available, along with a new version of the Magic Sky sunroof that can turn opaque at the push of a button. Other than that, a new door-trim design and supple semi-aniline leather should come standard.

Drivetrain

It is too early to jump to the conclusion that the Mercedes-Maybach GLS will receive the twin-turbo V-12 from the S600, but if the German carmaker will likely need it to compete with the upcoming W-12-powered Bentley Bentayga. As far as power and torque are concerned, the twin-turbocharged, 4.7-liter V-8 in the GL550 should be more than up to the task. With 429 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque, only 5.4 seconds are required to hit 62 mph from a standing start.

Equipped with 4MATIC all-wheel drive as standard, the ultra-luxurious GLS will be the first Maybach model ever to send power to all four wheels. Whatever engine it gets, it will likely be paired with the new nine-speed automatic transmission that recently found its way in the GLE Coupe as well. Smooth but efficient gear shifting will probably not disturb the passengers one bit even in stop-and-go traffic. An electronically controlled Airmatic suspension will also come in standard, unlike the off-road package found in the regular GLS model.

Prices

With the current GL550 starting at $89,950 and the GL63 AMG starting at $119,450, I expect the Mercedes-Maybach variant to be the most expensive GLS at about $150,000. That may seem like a boatload of cash, but keep in mind that not only will the Bentley Bentayga probably be much more expensive, but that price would make it the cheapest Maybach-branded new car ever.

Competition

Bentley Bentayga

2017 Bentley Bentayga High Resolution Exterior
- image 645139

Currently the most luxurious and expensive SUV, the Bentayga is Bentley’s first-ever people hauler. Built on the same platform as the Audi Q7 and Porsche Cayenne, it sports a 600-horsepower W-12 engine in its most expensive trim, but V-8 and hybrid versions are also expected to arrive by the end of the decade. The W-12 is also the quickest SUV from 0 to 60 mph and hit an unprecedented top speed of 187 mph, two feats the Maybach probably won’t be able to match. Pricing is obviously in accordance with the tremendous performance and massive amount of luxury, starting from $229,100 in the United States.

Read our full review on the Bentley Bentayga here.

Land Rover Range Rover Long Wheelbase

2014 Land Rover Range Rover LWB - Driven High Resolution Exterior
- image 566217

While not exactly at the same level of brand cachet as its two future rivals, the Range Rover Long Wheelbase is already pulling a similar take on the "ultra-luxury" game as the Mercedes-Maybach GLS. An elongated wheelbase and much larger rear doors offer even more room for the rear passengers, making the SUV the only one of its kind at the moment – at least in terms of production cars.

Apart from the increased room in the rear, the Range Rover LW largely offers the same amount of features as the regular model; even the rear center console is optional in case customers want a bench seat. Even so, the Rangie is never one to treat its passengers cheaply, and with a decent amount of options it can offer a similar amount of comfort as a luxury sedan.

Read our full review on the Land Rover Range Rover Long Wheelbase here.

Conclusion

2018 Mercedes-Maybach GLS Exclusive Renderings
- image 614172

While most of the details concerning the future Maybach-branded SUV fall into the "speculative" department, the model has very high chances of entering production sometime in 2016 or 2017. When it does, it will either fail miserably or simply go a bit under the radar compared with the first Bentley SUV. I’m not being a pessimist, but I simply cannot see how a car that belongs to a sub-brand can battle the big boys from a sales point of view. Despite this, considering that Daimler will invest much less money in the model’s development than the VW Auto Group did and still does in the Bentayga, there is likely a great business case for the German luxo-SUV.

  • Leave it
    • * Not distinctive enough
    • * Most expensive GLS model
    • * Old and heavy platform
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