X167 Mercedes-Maybach GLS revealed in Guangzhou, jettisons third-row seats in favour of ultimate luxury
Mercedes-AMG may have turned the GLS’ performance up to 11 at the ongoing Los Angeles Auto Show, but halfway across the world at Auto Guangzhou in China, another Mercedes-Benz division is showing the ultimate expression of the massive SUV in terms of comfort and luxury, and here it is – the Mercedes-Maybach GLS 600 4Matic.
This enormous leviathan takes full advantage of the generous dimensions of the standard GLS, which Mercedes rather self-indulgently calls “the S-Class of SUVs”. Unlike the Maybach version of the Sonderklasse, the body hasn’t been stretched in any way, shape or form, still measuring 5,205 mm long (just 41 mm shorter than a long-wheelbase S-Class) with a 3,135 mm wheelbase.
But because this is an SUV (and not a sedan with a separate boot), Mercedes has managed to fit a far more capacious seating area within the same box. It has done this by deleting the third row of seats, so that it can push the remaining rear seats some 120 mm aft to provide otherworldly amounts of rear legroom – with the front passenger seat adjusted to the “chauffeur” position, rear occupants have up to 1.34 metres to lounge in.
The outer rear seats – which can be reclined by up to 43.5 degrees and come as standard with ottomans and memory, heating, ventilation and massage functions – have also been moved 30 mm inboard to free up more elbow room, to the detriment of the centre passenger, of course. No matter, because you can kick the sole peasant out in favour of four full-sized seats and a full-length centre console.
Flowing downwards from the wood-lined boot separator, this console features a lockable storage compartment or a refrigerator for your Moët, ahead of which sits an armrest that can also optionally be heated. Passengers will also find cupholders that can be heated or cooled, depending on their choosing. The working executive can also option the car with a 230-volt power socket and folding tables, while a pair of silver champagne flutes, hidden within the lockable lid, can be purchased from the accessories catalogue.
Regardless of the seating configuration you plump for, you get power-adjustable headrests with additional cushioning, an aeroplane-style “tidy up” button to return all the seats to their original positions and a removable MBUX Rear Tablet for controlling various functions. A Qi wireless smartphone charging pad and an MBUX Rear Seat Entertainment System are also available as options.
The rest of the cabin is no less opulent, with Nappa leather covering pretty much everything you’ll touch, such as the dashboard, the steering wheel (including the airbag boss, with a wooden rim optional), the front grab handles and the box-pleated seats. Even more cowhide can be specified with the designo Leather package, adding leather-lined rear ottomans and throw cushions.
Meanwhile, the list of wood decors include two pinstriped options, while the 64-colour ambient lighting system has been expanded, enveloping the rear seats and tablet, as well as lining the standard panoramic roof. The twin 12.3-inch displays continue to run the MBUX infotainment system, with the Maybach getting an exclusive Maybach Classic display scheme incorporating a dark blue background and rose gold dials.
Other features unique to the Maybach GLS include a standard-fit Burmester sound system with an integrated two-way intercom between the front and rear seats, along with a redesigned four-zone climate control system. The latter features an air quality sensor, a windscreen humidity sensor and fan motors that sit on rubberised bearings to minimise noise, plus coated air vents that further dampen the sound of the airflow.
Isolating the occupants even more is the standard Airmatic air suspension with the Adaptive Damping System (ADS+), with the 48-volt E-Active Body Control roll stabilisation system offered as an option. The car uses a stereo camera to scan the road surface and adjust the suspension to suit, and it can also tilt into a corner like a motorcycle to improve comfort.
A special Maybach drive mode further adds the serenity by tuning the suspension for the lowest possible amount of body movement, using a vibration node to tune out any unwanted amplitudes in the ride. It also flattens the accelerator curve, minimises gearshifts, uses second gear to step off and turns off the automatic engine start/stop system, all in the name of uninterrupted peace and quiet.
Not that the Maybach GLS isn’t able to fire down the road at spectacular pace when needed, because it gets an M177 4.0 litre twin-turbocharged V8, delivering 558 PS from 6,000 to 6,500 rpm and 730 Nm of torque between 2,500 and 5,000 rpm. There’s also a 48-volt EQ Boost mild hybrid system that temporarily adds another 22 PS and 250 Nm for even more brute force, along with a 9G-Tronic nine-speed automatic gearbox.
Throw in the 4Matic all-wheel drive system that can send up to 100% of the torque to either the front or the rear axles, and the result is a 2,785 kg behemoth that can get from zero to 100 km/h in just 4.9 seconds. On the flip side, the hybrid powertrain features cylinder deactivation and kinetic energy recuperation to save fuel, although even with all that, fuel consumption is still rated at a not-insignificant 11.7 to 12.0 litres per 100 km.
On the outside, the Maybach GLS is set apart from its lesser siblings through the trademark grille with vertical slats, a chrome mesh air intake, chrome front and rear bumper guards, gloss black lower body panels and a chrome-plated B-pillar. Retractable aluminium side steps come as standard, as does the Maybach projection lighting. The car is offered with 22- and 23-inch alloy wheel options and a range of outlandish two-tone paints.
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