Mercedes’ most luxurious SUV ever sports a Maybach badge

The 2021 Mercedes-Maybach GLS is the range-topping version of the third-generation SUV, launched in 2019 for the 2020 model year. It’s the second Maybach SUV ever built after the 2018 G650 Landaulet, but the first one that’s not a limited-edition vehicle. Inspired by the Maybach S-Class,, the 2021 Maybach GLS is a fancied up GLS with extra luxury features, exclusive appointments, and a unique drivetrain. Performance-wise, it slots between the GLS 580 and the AMG GLS 63 S., And just like the rest of the lineup, its gasoline engine works in conjunction with a 48-volt EQ Boost system. Let’s find out more about this luxurious hauler in the review below.

  • 2021 Mercedes-Maybach GLS
  • Year:
    2021
  • Make:
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    V8
  • Transmission:
    nine-speed automatic
  • Horsepower @ RPM:
    550
  • Torque @ RPM:
    538
  • Displacement:
    4.0 L
  • 0-60 time:
    4.9 sec.
  • Top Speed:
    155 mph (Est.)
  • Price:
    250000 (Est.)
  • Price:
  • car segment:
  • size:
  • Purpose:
  • body style:

Exterior

  • New front grille
  • Unique bumper
  • Star on the hood
  • Chrome side sills
  • Body-color wheel arches
  • New exhaust pipes
  • Relocated lower rear lights
  • Chrome B-pillars
  • Crest on D-pillars
  • Two-tone body paint
left right

Just like the Maybach S-Class, the Maybach GLS is pretty much a regular Mercedes-Benz GLS with Maybach-specific features. The front fascia is where the Maybach model stands out the most, mainly thanks to the front grille.

The GLS' regular grille was replaced by a traditional Maybach element with fine vertical chrome struts and a thin chrome frame with "Maybach" lettering at the top.

The big Mercedes star on the grille was removed too, replaced by a smaller emblem on the hood. The headlamps remain identical to the regular model, with Intelligent Light System LED technology as standard.

The bumper is also exclusive to this model. The side vents are just as big, but the black background and the horizontal slats are gone, replaced by a fine chrome mesh with thick chrome trim on the upper and exterior sides. It’s an interesting take compared to the regular GLS, but it looks a bit cheesy if you ask me. The thin center grille is another feature that disappeared, as the Maybach model features a revised lower protection plate that extends upward toward the top of the bumper.

left right

The profile of the Maybach SUV is virtually identical to the standard GLS at first glance. But certain fine details begin to surface when you look close enough. The wheels and the extra chrome trim are the first details that catch the eye. This GLS comes standard with 22-inch wheels painted in black, but it can be fitted with 23-inch rollers in forged, polished aluminum. Both feature "Maybach" lettering on the hub covers. The wheel arches are finished in body color for a more elegant look.

Next up, there’s extra chrome in the window area. While the standard GLS also has chrome trim, the Maybach model also features a chrome B-pillar. The C-pillar remains black, so the glasshouse boasts an interesting effect as if the window of the rear door extends into the rear, like on a classic shooting brake. We can see more chrome in the side sill insert, which is usually body-colored or black on the standard GLS. One final cool feature is the Maybach crest on the D-pillar. This small styling element is borrowed from vintage Maybach models, and even though it looks better on sedans and coupes, it adds a bit of flair to this SUV as well.

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The rear of the Maybach is virtually identical to the standard GLS save for the lower bumper. An important change is the relocation of the lower red lights from the bumper to the lower line of the tailgate. These thin lights were integrated into a chrome trim for added sheen. The chrome insert in the bumper that incorporates the protection plate was also revised, while the trapezoidal exhaust pipes feature a thin horizontal bar, so every outlet looks like it’s made from two stacked thin blades. That’s a cool feature, albeit small and not very noticeable.

2021 Mercedes-Maybach GLS
- image 874379

Finally, there’s the optional two-tone body paint.

Just like the old Maybach 57 and 62 sedans, the GLS can be ordered in a two-tone finish with the colors separated by the beltline.

Mercedes offers eight combinations: Lunar Blue/Iridium Silver; designo Diamond White/Obsidian Black; Iridium Silver/designo Diamond White; Iridium Silver/Selenite Grey; Obsidian Black/Kalahari Gold; Obsidian Black/Patagonia Red; Obsidian Black/Rubellite Red; Emerald Green/Mojave Silver — the first is the color of the lower section.

Mercedes-Maybach GLA exterior dimensions
Length 204.9 inches
Width 79.9 inches
Height 72.4 inches
Wheelbase 123.4 inches
Track, front 66.9 inches
Track, rear 67.8 inches
Turning circle 41.0 ft

Interior

  • Same layout as standard GLS
  • Automatic running boards
  • MBUX infotainment
  • Smart A/C system
  • Nappa leather
  • Two-tone upholstery
  • Reclining rear seats
  • Optional table
  • Optional fridge
  • Champagne flutes
  • Plenty of legroom
  • 17.1-cubic-foot trunk
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Open the door to enter the Maybach GLS, and you’ll be greeted by the first luxury feature in the form for automatic running boards. These swing out from the side sill panels to ease entry into the vehicle. These are made from high-gloss aluminum with anti-slip rubber strips, they’re illuminated so you can see them in the dark, and are more than two-meter long on each side. The boards deploy in just one second and are completely concealed when not in use. Although they’re set to open automatically when you open the door, you can deactivate them using a special menu in the infotainment system.

The interior layout is identical to the regular GLS, which in turn borrows a lot form the S-Class sedan.

The most striking feature is the extremely wide screen that pairs the instrument cluster and the infotainment display, both measuring 12.3 inches in diagonal. It features the same wide center console, the stylish door panels, and comfortable seats.

2021 Mercedes-Maybach GLS
- image 874370

Like all modern Mercs, the Maybach GLS is fitted with MBUX; the company’s latest infotainment system. It displays information on both displays, and it includes many segment-leading functions. The Interior Assistant, for instance, allows intuitive operation of different functions by movement recognition via a camera placed in the overhead. When a hand approaches the touchscreen or the touchpad on the center console, the system is able to distinguish whether it’s yours or the front passenger’s and knows for whose seat the massage or ventilation function is to be activated. You can also enable the reading lamp by extending your hand toward the mirror.

MBUX is also able to learn thanks to artificial intelligence. Using predictive functions, it can anticipate what you would like to do next. For instance, if you place a specific phone call to a specific person when driving back from work, MBUX will display the number on the screen as a suggestion. It will also suggest a radio station that you tune to at a particular time to get news or listen to a specific broadcast.

2021 Mercedes-Maybach GLS
- image 874388

The dashboard, for instance, is wrapped in Nappa leather as standard. The same goes for the multi-function steering wheel, which also matches the color of the upholstery. Optionally, you can go with a wood rim. Surprisingly enough though for such a luxurious model, the heated function is only optional. Of course, the Maybach SUV is also fitted with open-pore wood trim. The veneer was carefully selected, and Mercedes claims that it has been aged for at least ten years before being cut and sanded. The backrests of the front seats also feature wood trim, so rear-seat passengers can enjoy the tremendous craftsmanship.

The standard upholstery comes in one of two color combinations: Magma Grey with black or Mahogany Brown with Macchiato Beige. The latter is obviously the nicer option if you like brighter interiors and contrast. Later on, Mercedes will also offer a Crystal White with Silver Grey Pearl combination with Rose Gold piping on the white leather.

If you opt for the four-seat version with two comfort seats in the rear, things get even more comfortable and luxurious. In both versions, the two outer seats are Executive seats with calf supports and backrests that recline backward up to 43.5 degrees. This way, you can relax or even take a nap on your way to work or a meeting.

2021 Mercedes-Maybach GLS
- image 874389

Making things even better, the four-seat configuration makes room for a fixed center console that is available extending, folding table, and a refrigerator with space for champagne bottles. The fridge is big enough to accommodate three 0.75-liter bottles. Between the rear seat footwells, the console features a wood trim element with a sliding cover which reveals temperature-controlled cup holders and a stowage compartment. This space can also be used to accommodate the silver champagne flutes available as Mercedes-Maybach Genuine Accessories, where a fixed space is provided in the lid of the refrigerator compartment.

The MBUX Rer Seat Entertainment system is equipped as standard and includes two 11.6-inch displays mounted in the front seatbacks. Both can be used to access the infotainment system and play movies, music, or navigate the web. Each comes with special Bluetooth headphones. The third device is a seven-inch tablet that can be removed from its charger/holder located in the folding lid of the stowage compartment. If you’re not using headphones, music will be played through a premium Burmester surround system with in-door speakers inset into wood trim and behind metal meshes.

2021 Mercedes-Maybach GLS
- image 874391

The air conditioning system is also one of the most advanced on the market right now. It detects poor air quality outside the vehicle and receives a warning from the navigation system if the vehicle is approaching a tunnel. In both cases, the system automatically switches to air-recirculation mode, and the side windows and sliding sunroof are closed. The system also remembers the personal preferences of up to seven passengers.

Comfort is further improved by enhanced noise insulation. Mercedes installed a rigid partition and a fixed parcel shelf behind the rear seats, separating the interior from the luggage compartment and thus preventing noise from this area from entering the cabin.

As far as passenger room goes, the GLS is quite spacious. There’s 40.4 inches of headroom in the front and 40.2 inches of headroom in the rear. That’s an extra 0.4 and 2.2 inches more than the Bentley Bentayga. Rear legroom is rated at an impressive 43.4 inches, 1.5 more than the British SUV.

2021 Mercedes-Maybach GLS
- image 874377

Trunk space remains similar to standard GLS at 18.5 cubic feet behind the seats. There’s no info on space with the second-row seats folded flat, but Maybach also didn’t say if the five-seat version has folding seats. Given the luxurious status of the SUV, it might not have this option. At 18.5 cubic feet, the Maybach GLS has a bigger trunk than the Bentley Bentayga, rated at 17.1 cubic feet.

Drivetrain

  • 4.0-liter V-8 from AMG
  • 550 horsepower
  • 538 pound-feet
  • EQ Boost system
  • Nine-speed automatic
  • 0 to 62 in 4.9 seconds
  • Top speed at 155 mph
  • AWD system
2021 Mercedes-Maybach GLS
- image 874348

The Mercedes-Maybach GLS is available in just one version called the 600 4Matic. It draws juice from the twin-turbo, 4.0-liter V-8 engine found in a wide variety of Mercedes and AMG models. Just like in the regular GLS 580, Mercedes-Benz paired the V-8 engine to a 48-volt electric system in the Maybach. But there’s a notable difference between the two. While the GSL 580 comes with the M176 version of the V-8 engine, built for non-AMG models, the Maybach SUV sports the AMG-tweaked M177 version under the hood. Simply put, the Maybach GLS 600 features a detuned variant of the engine fitted in the high-performance AMG GLS 63 S.

The 4.0-liter unit cranks out 550 horsepower and 538 pound-feet of twist on its own.

That’s 67 horsepower and 22 pound-feet more than the GLS 580. Compared to the AMG GLS 63 S model, the Maybach falls behind by 60 horsepower and 89 pound-feet of twist.

The EQ Boost system adds 21 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque, which makes it identical to the one fitted in other versions of the GLS. When EQ Boost kicks in, the Maybach GLS benefits from an impressive 571 horsepower and 722 pound-feet of torque.

2021 Mercedes-Maybach GLS
- image 874337

The Maybach sprints to 62 mph in 4.9 seconds. That’s four-tenths quicker than the GLS 580, but 0.7 seconds slower than the AMG GLS 63 S model. Top speed is limited at the usual 155 mph, which is 19 mph slower than the AMG model fitted with the optional Driver’s Package.

Power from both systems routes the wheels through a nine-speed automatic transmission. Just like its AMG counterpart, the Maybach models feature a 4Matic all-wheel-drive system.The nine-speed automatic gearbox was enhanced to handle the V-8’s higher power and torque.

2021 Mercedes-Maybach GLS
- image 874405

Despite the impressive power, this drivetrain features plenty of fuel economy enhancing features, starting with cylinder shut-off. Available through the Dynamic Select Comfort drive program in the 800 to 3,250 rpm range, it switches four of the eight cylinders to reduce fuel consumption. The transition between these modes is seamless, thanks to an absorber that reduces vibrations. Of course, the EQ Boost system also plays a key role here. During deceleration, the kinetic energy from the starter-generator is converted into electric power used to charge the battery. The V-8 engine is also used at a more efficient operating point thanks to EQ Boost and the drivetrains ISG system.

Although shared with other models, the nine-speed automatic gearbox was enhanced to handle the V-8’s higher power and torque. Its electronically controlled multi-plate clutch allows a variable transfer of the drive torque from 0-100 percent between the axles, which improves acceleration and handling on all road conditions, including ice and snow.

Safety and driving assist features

2021 Mercedes-Maybach GLS
- image 874401

Just like the regular GLS, the Maybach GLS is fitted with a wide range of driver assistance features. The ten standard systems will support you in many driving situations in order to enhance comfort and safety. The SUV can autonomously maintain its speed and the distance to the vehicle in front as well as stay in lane on multi-lane roads. It can also reduce the speed autonomously according to the traffic situation, like when approaching towns or villages, bends, roundabouts, junctions, or traffic jams.

It will also warn you if you get too close to the vehicle in front, if there’s a risk of a collision, and if it’s safe to get out of the vehicle after you parked on the side of the road.

2021 Mercedes-Maybach GLS
- image 874393

The following assistance systems are equipped as standard:

  • Active Distance Assist DISTRONIC
  • Active Speed Limit Assist
  • Traffic Sign Assist
  • Route-based speed adjustment
  • Active Steering Assist with Active Lane Change Assist and "emergency corridor" functions
  • Evasive Steering Assist
  • Active Lane Keeping Assist
  • Active Blind Spot Assist with exit warning
  • Active Brake Assist with turning maneuver function and cross-traffic function
    PRE-SAFE PLUS

The Maybach GLS also features Active Stop-and-Go Assist, a feature that takes over certain functions at speeds of up to 37 mph, especially in heavy traffic. This system will maintain the distance to the vehicle in front while making the GLS stop and start repeatedly, and it will work in conjunction with the Active Steering System to form a "rescue corridor" for emergency vehicles on multi-lane roads.

Prices

2021 Mercedes-Maybach GLS
- image 874345

Mercedes-Benz announced that the Maybach GLS goes on sale in the U.S. in the second half of 2020, but it has yet to release pricing information. However, it’s safe to say that it will be the most expensive version of the SUV. The range-topping Maybach S-Class, for instance, costs almost $20,000 more than the AMG S63 at $202,550. At the same time, it costs twice as much as the S560, the most expensive non-AMG model. Based on this, the Maybach GLS should also cost twice as much compared to the GLS580, which retails from $97,800. Expect a sticker similar to the Maybach S-Class at around $200,000.

Competition

Bentley Bentayga

2017 Bentley Bentayga
- image 833906

While the standard GLS is a competitor for vehicles like the BMW X7 and the Cadillac Escalade, the Maybach GLS takes it up a notch and goes against the Bentley Bentayga. Launched in 2015 as the company’s first SUV, the Bentayga is one of the most luxurious SUVs you can buy. It also features a sporty exterior with styling cues borrowed from the Continental GT coupe. Inside the cabin, the Bentayga is packed with the finest leathers and premium wood veneer. Just like the Maybach, it can be ordered with fancy features such as a table, a fridge for champagne, and even a picnic accessory for the trunk. Speaking of that, the Bentayga has a slightly smaller trunk behind the second-row seats. But the British SUV stands out when it comes to drivetrain options, with no less than five on offer. The base model features a 4.0-liter V-8 that almost as powerful as the Maybach at 542 horsepower and 568 pound-feet. But the 6.0-liter W-12 engine tops that with an impressive 600 horsepower and 664 pound-feet of twist. You can also order a hybrid that combines a 3.0-liter V-6 with an electric motor for a total output of 456 horses and 516 pound-feet. Next up is the Speed, equipped with a beefed-up W-12 good for 626 horsepower. Finally, you can also get a diesel 4.0-liter V-8 that cranks out an impressive 429 horses and 664 pound-feet. Pricing-wise, the Bentayga comes in cheaper in base V-8 guise, starting from $165,000. Opt for the W-12 version, and the sticker jumps to $229,100. Finally, the ultra-luxurious Mulliner versions fetches a whopping $267,700.

Read our full review of the 2019 Bentley Bentayga.

Rolls-Royce Cullinan

2019 Rolls-Royce Cullinan Exterior
- image 780072
It even has active suspension

The first SUV from this British company, the Cullinan is a boxier and more traditional proposition design-wise, as it borrows styling cues from the Phantom. It’s just as fancy as the Maybach inside the cabin, though, and it’s far more customizable. The lounge-style interior is fitted with genuine wood, water-resistant leather, a drinks cabinet, and it can take up to 68 cubic feet of luggage in the trunk. You can add any option you can think of, including features that go beyond Rolls-Royce’s standard offerings. But it won’t be cheap. Power comes from a 6.75-liter V-12 engine rated at 563 horsepower and 627 pound-feet of torque. It’s the company’s first AWD vehicle, it has four-wheel steering, and a suspension system tuned to handle off-road duty. The Cullinan starts from $325,000, making it at least $100,000 more expensive than the Mercedes-Maybach GLS and the most expensive SUV in production as of late 2019.

Read our full story on the 2019 Rolls-Royce Cullinan

Conclusion

2021 Mercedes-Maybach GLS Exclusive Renderings
- image 614172

Successful or not, the Maybach GLS already has a special place in history for being only the second SUV to sport the iconic badge. And needless to say, it’s actually the first production model from the sub-brand, since the Maybach G 650 Landaulet was limited to only 99 units and priced from an astounding $800,000. Already a premium SUV, the GLS now has even more equipment to brag about thanks to the Maybach trim, and it can finally compete with land yachts like the Bentley Bentayga and the Rolls-Royce Cullinan. Definitely a step up for the German SUV, but only as long as it doesn’t end up as expensive as its British rivals.

  • Leave it
    • Not distinctive enough
    • Most expensive GLS model
Ciprian Florea
Senior Editor and Supercar Expert - ciprian@topspeed.com
Ciprian's passion for everything with four wheels (and more) started back when he was just a little boy, and the Lamborghini Countach was still the coolest car poster you could hang on your wall. Ciprian's career as a journalist began long before earning a Bachelor's degree, but it was only after graduating that his love for cars became a profession.  Read More
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