JAY RAMEY

Mercedes to wrap GLS in Maybach ultraluxury

The Mercedes-Maybach GLS, due on sale in 2019, will feature a unique front fascia, shown in this rendering, and a redesigned interior, setting its sights on the long-wheelbase Range Rover and Bentley Bentayga. Photo credit: AUTOWEEK RENDERING
Jay Ramey is an associate editor with Autoweek, an affiliate of Automotive News.

A Mercedes-Maybach version of the GLS class is finally in the works, and the automaker plans to preview the upcoming ultraluxury, full-size SUV at the Beijing auto show in concept form in a matter of days.

A Maybach variant of the largest SUV in Mercedes' lineup has been rumored for some time, but the final push was the rapid growth of luxury SUV segments as well as the surprise popularity of the Mercedes-Maybach S-class sedan, which debuted two years ago. A replacement for the Maybach 57, the stretched Maybach version of the S class was envisioned as a niche model, but it captured more than a niche following in China and other markets.

That made the decision to invest in a Maybach version of the GLS class easier for Mercedes.

Another reason Mercedes is greenlighting the model has been the rapid proliferation and commercial success of ultraluxury SUVs such as the long-wheelbase Range Rover SVAutobiographyBentley Bentayga and upcoming Rolls-Royce Cullinan. The Mercedes-Maybach GLS class will be previewed in near-production form in Beijing, and like the S-class sedan, it is expected to feature a number of exterior design changes as well as a distinct grille and front fascia.

Inside, the GLS class will feature a reworked rear passenger compartment that will buy the rear-seat passengers more legroom, as well as power-reclining seats. After all, the rear passenger compartment will be the main selling point of the Maybachs, intending to offer first-class comfort geared toward those who employ a chauffeur.

A teaser video posted by Mercedes days ago previews some of the interior details of the Mercedes-Maybach GLS.

 
 

When it comes to engines, the Mercedes-Maybach GLS class is likely to borrow a twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V-8 engine from the S560, which produces 469 hp in the S class. The GLS class could also receive the plug-in hybrid powertrain announced in the S560e, which pairs a 3.0-liter V-6 producing 362 hp and 369 pound-feet of torque with an electric motor that adds an additional 121 hp and 325 pound-feet of torque. This version will debut on the S class in 2019, and it will have an all-electric range of 25 miles.

How much will all of this goodness cost? Expect this Mercedes-Maybach model to start at around $170,000 and (rapidly) progress from there. This is the same general price range of the Range Rover Autobiography LWB but a fair bit south of the $230,000 starting price of the Bentley Bentayga. The difference in the market may be that the Mercedes-Maybach GLS class will lean toward owners of chauffeured cars, whereas the Bentayga is more at ease with being owner-driven. And unlike the Range Rover, the GLS Maybach is expected be more on-road biased -- this may well be an SUV alternative for those already looking at an S class Maybach or its competitors.

 

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