by Jared Rosenholtz
After several teasers, the 2021 Mercedes-Maybach GLS 600 was unveiled in China and completely blew us away with its ultra-luxurious interior. This is, by far, the most opulent model in the Mercedes lineup - and could even lay claim to being the most luxurious SUV in the world. The Aston Martin DBX and Rolls-Royce Cullinan might disagree, but what's not in doubt is that ultra-wealthy customers who like to be chauffeured around with a bit more ground clearance have never had more choice. And this newest member of the reborn Maybach brand offers something extra special.
4.0-liter Twin-Turbo V8 Gas
9 Speed Automatic
We don't know how else to describe the Maybach GLS's appearance other than majestic. The standard GLS is already a handsome SUV but the Maybach's distinctive grille, 21-inch wheels, and three-pointed star hood ornament add a touch of old-school class. Mercedes published a few photos of the SUV, showing it in solid and two-tone color schemes, both of which look fantastic, though the latter is bound to attract more attention. We'd say the Rolls-Royce Cullinan is still a bit more eye-catching but the Maybach should draw as many stares as the Bentley Bentayga.
It's not easy to do, but the Mercedes-Maybach GLS feels even more upscale than a standard Benz. Maybach says the cabin is completely bespoke with unique finishes and accents that are highly customizable. Upfront, the new Mercedes MBUX infotainment system is housed on two screens, which can be controlled via touch, controllers on the steering wheel, or a center console controller. The front looks like a nice place to be but this particular GLS is geared towards the back seat.
The GLS is the largest Mercedes SUV and the standard model is designed to carry three rows of passengers in sumptuous luxury. This Maybach model trades in its conventional third row for a more upscale second row with reclining chairs. The Executive Rear Seating package limits the GLS to just four seats but those rear-seat passengers will enjoy private jet levels of comfort including folding tables, mounted champagne flutes, heating and ventilation functions, and MBUX-enabled tablet screens. Even the more expensive Cullinan doesn't offer seats like these.
Mercedes has put its best guns under the hood in the form of a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 paired with EQ Boost and a 48-volt mild-hybrid system. This engine should ensure buttery smooth acceleration on its way to 60 mph in 4.8 seconds. It's no V12, but the Mercedes eight still produces a healthy 550 horsepower and 538 lb-ft of torque, which should be more than enough to motivate this large beast. The mild-hybrid system, in addition to adding 21 hp and 184 lb-ft, is also tied to Mercedes' e-active body control suspension system. In our test of the smaller GLE, we found e-active body control to be one of the best suspension systems on the market, virtually eliminating bumps, and Maybach will almost certainly be even more compliant.
The 2021 Mercedes-Maybach GLS 600 won't go on sale until late 2020 with a starting price of around $200,000. This makes it a bit more expensive than the Bentley Bentayga and recently-revealed Aston Martin DBX but far less than the Rolls-Royce Cullinan. A limousine-style SUV like this will likely appeal more to the Chinese market but there are surely a few high-rollers here in the US who will love to lord around in a taller vehicle. The Maybach GLS appears to offer more luxury features than its chief rivals, meaning it should be able to carve out a sales niche all of its own.