Mercedes-Maybach Premieres Ultimate Luxury SUV With Perplexing Three-box Design

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

Mercedes-Maybach gently teased its new “Ultimate Luxury” concept before its official debut at the Beijing Motor Show, but one outlet’s itchy trigger finger resulted in every official image of it being sprayed all over the internet prematurely. The vehicle, dubbed the Vision Mercedes-Maybach Ultimate Luxury, is incredibly difficult to summarize.

While it’s considered a sport utility vehicle by the manufacturer, the bodywork is so unabashedly sedan-like that it almost seems like a parody of modern crossovers. The Vision Mercedes-Maybach 6 was similarly ridiculous, but that concept coupe was intentionally fantastical. It was a “look what our styling department can do” kind of car, whereas the Ultimate Luxury is something else entirely.

We think it’s the automotive equivalent of when a successful businessman decides to remove his shoes and socks on an airplane — upscale, but disgusting.

Were it simply a sedan, it’d be a passable design. There’s a lot of face, mostly taken up by the signature Maybach grille, but that’s the only aspect that even hints at this creature being intended for an elevated ride height. Otherwise, it looks like someone took a generic concept sedan and chucked on a lift kit.

Details, initially leaked by Car News China, claims that a production version of the vehicle will become available around 2020 and possess a twin-turbo V8 with roughly 500 horsepower. We’ve heard nothing of the sort. In fact, the concept model doesn’t even use a gas engine. Instead, Daimler has outfitted the Maybach-branded crossover with a quartet of electric motors offering a combined output of 738 horsepower. Power is stored inside an 80-kWh battery pack wedged beneath the floor. Range is expected to be 310 miles using the New European Driving Cycle, which is notoriously generous.

Some speculate that the Vision Ultimate Luxury is a way for Mercedes to premiere the Maybach variant of the upcoming GLS. If you’re overwhelmingly worried that this is what it’s going to morph into, do not fret. The camouflaged test vehicles show the new GLS to have a much more boxy and traditional SUV design. That could change for the Maybachs, but we doubt it.

Vision concepts don’t typically reach production, either. Normally, that’s a shame because they’re often incredible designs — we’re looking at you, Mercedes-AMG Vision Gran Turismo.

We think what we have here is a crossover concept, borrowing a bit of styling from the A-Class concept, that Daimler is using to test consumer acceptance of an ultra-rounded SUV. While three-box designs have worked for decades, it’s flat-out weird to see them on an SUV. Ease up Mercedes, we’re not even accustomed to the styling of the BMW X4 yet.

[Images: Daimler]

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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  • Gregg Mulry Gregg Mulry on Apr 24, 2018

    Anything out of the ordinary tends to gather a lot of hate, or at least be polarizing. Because it has a trunk, rather than a hatchback, it is uglier than things like the Bentayga or the BNW X6? Like it or not, it has presence and integration of form that many other luxury vehicles do not. It combines the stateliness of a sedan with the almost-required-today SUV stance. It could do very well for Maybach in some parts of the world.

  • Johnc99 Johnc99 on Apr 26, 2018

    To my eyes this looks like an uglier and tackier Rover 75.

  • Calrson Fan Jeff - Agree with what you said. I think currently an EV pick-up could work in a commercial/fleet application. As someone on this site stated, w/current tech. battery vehicles just do not scale well. EBFlex - No one wanted to hate the Cyber Truck more than me but I can't ignore all the new technology and innovative thinking that went into it. There is a lot I like about it. GM, Ford & Ram should incorporate some it's design cues into their ICE trucks.
  • Michael S6 Very confusing if the move is permanent or temporary.
  • Jrhurren Worked in Detroit 18 years, live 20 minutes away. Ren Cen is a gem, but a very terrible design inside. I’m surprised GM stuck it out as long as they did there.
  • Carson D I thought that this was going to be a comparison of BFGoodrich's different truck tires.
  • Tassos Jong-iL North Korea is saving pokemon cards and amibos to buy GM in 10 years, we hope.