Mercedes-Maybach Ready to Take on SUVs; Luxed-up GLS Debut Imminent

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
mercedes maybach ready to take on suvs luxed up gls debut imminent

No longer the gaudy marque seen in countless hip hop videos in the early 2000s, Maybach is now joined at the hip to Mercedes-Benz, offering lux-ified variants of the S-Class sedan under the Mercedes-Maybach sub-brand. Soon, that super sedan will have a higher-riding sibling, as even fabulously wealthy people sometimes need venture off the beaten track.

Fact is, those buyers have more choice than ever in choosing a more capable steed. Maserati has the Levante, Bentley has the Bentayga, and Rolls-Royce now has the Cullinan (truly a diamond in the rough). It’s time for a Mercedes-Maybach GLS.

The largest of Benz’s unibody utility vehicles, the GLS (seen here) underwent a design revamp for the 2020 model year, affording M-B a great opportunity to give a new ute the Maybach treatment. As seen in spy photos published by Autocar, the vehicle is clearly ready for prime time.

Looking very much like a stock GLS with some alterations to the headlamps and taillamps, plus a grille swap, the vehicle also dons a premium wheel design. Given what this vehicle is expected to cost (Autocar sources claim a starting price in the low $180k range), the visual impact is underwhelming. Then again, what can you really do to a GLS — or any other large crossover — to set it apart from its vanilla brethren?

As Maybach is all about luxury, it’s the interior of the upcoming model that shoulders the burden of wowing buyers, and Daimler’s ultra-lux division knows a thing or two about making people feel special. Expect the best the automaker can offer, both in terms of comfort and tech. Branding will be front and center.

And, while the GLS is a three-row vehicle at heart, with a six-passenger configuration offered for the first time come 2020, Mercedes-Maybach’s version is expected to go the two-row route. It also might boast a stretched wheelbase, though there’s no confirmation on that. Reclining rear passengers do need space to stretch out…

Mercedes-Benz brass claim the Chinese, North American, and Russian markets are flush with potential buyers for this vehicle, so expect to see it offered there initially. A domestic debut could come next month in Los Angeles. Powered by Benz’s twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 and mated to 4Matic all-wheel drive via a nine-speed automatic, the highest-zoot GLS could adopt a range of “lesser” drivetrains in the future, including a hybrid, though rumors abound of a 12-cylinder option.

[Image: Daimler]

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