Which bespoke and opulent SUV should you swan about in?
Now that Rolls-Royce makes the Rolls-Royce of SUVs, it was only a matter of time before Mercedes-Maybach entered the ultra-luxurious SUV market. While nobody has described anything as the Maybach of its type, the Mercedes-Maybach sedan has been the benchmark for the executive luxury car for some time. Stylish, athletic, and first-class comfort for its driver and passengers are all hallmarks for Maybach vehicles, but they are also the hallmarks of any Rolls Royce. So let's look at the SUV offering from each of the automakers and see how they stack up.
Neither of these SUVs is going to come cheap. We're still waiting for the Mercedes-Maybach GLS pricing to be announced, but the sedan starts at $199,900, and we expect the SUV to be over the $200,000 mark. It probably won't start at more than the Rolls-Royce Cullinan's $325,000 base price, but nobody will buy an un-optioned "base" model anyway. Customers of both models are going to spend what they need to pay to get exactly what they want. That amount can easily double or triple for Rolls-Royce once you get into its bespoke tailoring program.
When dropping the kind of cash needed for these vehicles, you expect a cut above in the performance. The powertrain needs to be both exquisitely smooth as well as powerful, and the 2021 Mercedes-Maybach GLS 600 will come packed with a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 paired with EQ Boost and a 48-volt mild-hybrid system. The Rolls-Royce Cullinan keeps things old school with a 6.7-liter twin-turbo V12 for that quiet, smooth torque delivery.
Stacking up the power delivery numbers, the Maybach delivers 550 horsepower and 538 lb-ft of torque while the Roller puts out 562 horsepower and 627 pound-feet of torque. The Maybach GLS will cruise to 60 mph from a dead stop in 4.8 seconds and then onto a top speed limited to 130 mph. Anyone tasteless enough to race the two vehicles to 60 mph should find the Roller edges it with a time of 4.5 seconds before going on to an estimated top speed of 155 mph.
The Rolls-Royce Cullinan has been described as looking like the result of the Grand Theft Auto video game franchise deciding to have a Rolls-Royce-style SUV in the game. The aesthetics of the Cullinan splits opinion while the Maybach GLS's appearance is more palatable at first glance. The GLS is already a good looking SUV, but the new distinctive grille and exclusive 21-inch wheels add a touch of an old school class, particularly with the two-tone color scheme Mercedes have shown us. We would go as far as saying the Maybach is a more svelte looking car while the Roller is more of a social statement.
We haven't experienced the interior of the Maybach GLS, but we know it's bespoke with unique finishes and plenty of high-end technology and standard equipment. The panoramic sunroof, seven-inch tablets, 64-color ambient lighting system, a Burnmester sound system, wireless charging station, heated and cooled cupholders, and a wooden parcel shelf are all standard for the Maybach GLS, as is a separate air conditioning system.
In the back, there is a Rolls-Royce level of comfort and convenience but the Maybach takes its seats to the next level with a split two-seat setup with a fixed center console that's available on special request.
There is going to be no lack of quality and style in either SUV here. Rolls-Royce has dedicated its interior to out and out luxury over technology. There is technology, such as the digital gauges, but they are rooted in the old-school Rolls-Royce clusters. Even the climate wheels look like they're from the 1980s.
There's no sign of any plastic on show in the Cullinan, and the theme is real leather and wood throughout. That's demonstrated most notably by the coach doors at the back with built-in umbrellas ready to be opened and handed to you by the chauffeur. When the car is moving, the interior is incredibly isolated and the stereo tuned to perfection by Rolls-Royce sound engineers. Rather than the first-class passenger vibe Maybach specializes in, the Cullinan feels like traveling in a high-end living room.
Rolls-Royce tells us that customers are as likely to drive themselves around in its SUV as be chauffeured, whereas the Maybach GLS is squarely aimed at making sure the back seats are the best place to be. The Cullinan has also demonstrated its off-road chops and is more utilitarian than Rolls-Royce vehicles have been in many decades. The GLS is more competent than anyone expected off-road, but its prowess isn't as baked in as the Cullinan's abilities.
The suspicion is dawning on us that the Maybach GLS might be set to become the Rolls-Royce of SUVs, despite Rolls-Royce making its own SUV. That shouldn't be a dig at the British carmaker, though, as the Cullinan isn't designed to replace its existing cars. Instead, it does SUV things as well as provide the level of opulence and quality expected of the brand.