Stepping aboard the Maybach GLS 600 is to enter a luxurious cocoon decadently finished in supple Nappa leather that literally extends across every surface throughout the interior, including the headlining. The click of the soft close doors is barely perceptible as the outside world disappears. The electric blinds rise on the windows, I sink into the lavish Executive chair, inhale the soft scents of White Osmanthus Blossom from the custom Maybach diffuser. I recline the seat, raise the footrest, select the hot-stone massage from one of the six massage settings, then reach down and pop open a chilled bottle of bubbly from the Champagne fridge. I am sinking into a blissful state of relaxation with the outside world shrinking away, the crisp fidelity of the Burmester sound system with its 27 speakers and 1,600 watts and the ambient lighting lulling me into sublime, transcendental tranquility.
Then, suddenly it dawns on me. The Maybach has been equipped with absolutely everything, except a Chauffeur.
Fortunately, however, this is Mercedes-Benz and there are no compromises here. The thoughtful engineers in Stuttgart have paid the same attention to the comfort, ergonomics and detail for driver and passengers alike. The driver and front passenger seats are opulent and all four seats in the Maybach are heated and ventilated, with multi-contour adjustments and equipped with the excellent massage functions with relaxing and energizing options together with four-zone climate control. The dual 12.3 inch displays use the excellent Mercedes Benz User Experience (MBUX) system with a multitude of configurations and in the classic layout the dials for speedometer and tachometer feature an elegant rose-gold rim with the Maybach logos.
My car was equipped with the black Nappa Leather that extends across the dash and the door panels. The silver stitching and piping contrasting nicely with the metallic silver switchgear and vents, and the design black flamed natural grain ash wood trim and beautifully perforated speakers on the Burmeister sound system are artwork in themselves. The Maybach logos are visible but subtly integrated, appearing on the metal accelerator and brake pedals, hand-rest for the entertainment system and console between the rear seats. The steering wheel and rear seat cushions are also embossed, which is a nice touch. The thick carpeting adds to the serene feel and the build-quality, fit and finish throughout the Maybach is absolutely phenomenal. It feels luxurious and expensive.
The rear seats are spectacular and reminiscent of first-class aircraft seats, with plenty of legroom. My car has the 4-seat configuration with two-executive chairs in the rear, separated by a center console which has a mobile phone holder and wireless charging station as well as housing the heated and cooled cupholders. The rear armrest also has a removable tablet that provides access to the excellent MBUX system, which controls the seat heating, ventilation, massage functions, ambient lighting (with its 64 different colors) and even the blinds and sunroof, which can be closed with a single-touch. According to Mercedes-Benz, American buyers prefer using their own tablets for entertainment, so the US version does not come with the rear screens.
The Maybach also has its own signature scent custom scent with notes of white osmanthus blossom, gentle leather, and spicy tea. It is diffused throughout the cabin from an elegant Maybach branded glass vile that is backlit and found in the glovebox.
My car came equipped with the optional refrigerator compartment, Champagne flute holders and folding tables in the rear center console, all of which add $3,700 to the price. You can further accessorize with custom designed silver Maybach champagne flutes handcrafted by Robbe & Berking, German silversmiths for five generations. The Maybach is available with a rear bench seat, but really why bother in an ultra-luxurious carriage like this.
For audiophiles, the Maybach GLS has with the incredible Burmester High End 3D surround system, with its 27 speakers providing 1610 watts of sound. Even with my eclectic music tastes, that span everything from EDM and Outlaw Country through to Opera, the fidelity and range of the system is outstanding. The Burmester system can be integrated with the 64 color ambient lighting system via the MBUX with a series of pre-programmed themes depending on your mood, whether you are looking to be energized, uplifted or relaxed.
I love the visibility, the ride height, the seat position and the space of large SUVs. The commanding presence when you make that fabulous entrance to a ritzy hotel, your favorite restaurant, or for the more racy among us, a nightclub. Sweeping up to the foyer with panache, taking care to appear nonchalantly unaware of the admiring glances from the gathered crowd. The white gloved valet opens the door, the flash-bulbs go off and then, dressed to the nines you look to serenely step out. But that’s where things generally start to unravel in a lofty SUV. The process of disembarking is fraught with uncertainty. Peering down toward the ground, one must make that critical decision – to clamber down or bravely leap, neither of which are terribly elegant or sophisticated and can result in catastrophe. Not so, however, with the Maybach GLS 600.
While elegantly extolling all the positive attributes the Maybach significantly ups the ante. With a touch of the door handle, a beautifully crafted aluminum stair simply materializes at one’s feet—and it must be stated that this is very much a stair and not a step. As if on a magic carpet, one then gracefully glides down with panache into the arms of the admiring throng. Or at least in my case, into the Whole Foods parking lot.
The only trade-off here for the Maybach is the cargo space. The rear seats and cargo cover are fixed in place and this puts the cargo room at around 18.4 cubic feet. It’s further reduced if you opt for the essential Champagne fridge, so you’ll have to decide what is more important to you: Chilled Champagne or an extra suitcase. For a vehicle that is likely to be used in livery and particularly for airport trips, this could be a limiting factor. But then again, with a Maybach one would clearly have ‘people’ to take care of such frivolous details.
The Maybach design accentuates the familiar shape of the GL series. The large chrome grill, vertical louvers and the cross-hatched chrome that extend over the lower air intakes, which make the Maybach seem both taller and wider at the same time. Maybach lettering is incorporated under the three-pointed star ornament, and the hood rises up toward the windscreen with two power-bulges that give the Maybach a powerful and purposeful aesthetic. I particularly liked this view from the driver’s seat as the ridges on the hood converge down toward the hood ornament. My car had two-tone paint in Iridium Silver Metallic and Selenite Grey Metallic as well as the 23-inch multi-spoke forged wheels. The combination is absolutely spectacular, and with the wider wheel arches, the Maybach has a broad stance; particularly from the rear three-quarter view.
The Maybach design details include chrome B pillars and window surrounds, chrome along the top of the running boards and the panel surrounding the exhausts, and Maybach logo on the D pillar. The running boards are beautifully designed—they illuminate and quietly extend and retract when the doors are closed. I particularly like the way the black paneling is cleverly used below the rear fender to take some bulk out of the aesthetic and draws the eye to the flared wheel arches and spectacular 23-inch rims. This is not a vehicle for anyone trying to blend in.
SMOOTH & CONSISTENT POWER
The Maybach GLS 600 uses the twin-turbo 4.0-liter V8, which produces 550-horsepower and 538 lb-ft or torque, which is assisted by a 48-volt EQ Boost electrical system that provides an additional 21 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque. In addition to the benefit of additional power for performance and fuel efficiency, the integrated electric generator compensates at the bottom of the torque curve while the conventional turbo spins up for smooth and consistent power delivery. The mild-hybrid element also enables coasting where the engine drops out temporarily to save fuel. The V8 deploys power through a silky smooth 9-speed automatic transmission and permanent all-wheel drive. Shifts are barely perceptible as you would expect from Mercedes ultra-luxury flagship.
MAGIC CARPET HANDLING
With all these luxury accouterments the Maybach comes in at a hefty 6,100 pounds and is clearly no lightweight, but it doesn’t compromise on performance and the handling and is surprisingly nimble for such a large vehicle. The steering and braking are both excellent and the Maybach is deceptively quick, reaching 60 mph in under 5 seconds and capable of 130mph. It’s quiet, well insulated, and the exhaust note is more subdued, so you don’t realize the speed unless you are paying close attention. Fortunately, the well-designed head-up-display, with its clean and clear design is superb, and there to keep you in check with programmable display options.
LUXURY MEETS PERFORMANCE
As you would expect, the Maybach is all about ride comfort and the standard AIRMATIC self-leveling suspension smooths out even the most-harsh road surfaces and undulations. The Maybach also comes with the E-Active Body Control adaptive suspension as standard—this is the only system on the market that can control spring and damping forces at each wheel to suppress rolling, lifting, and pitching movements.
It uses an incredibly sophisticated camera-based system that scans the road surface and curves ahead of the vehicle and rapidly adjusts the air suspension and active dampers to compensate and keep the Maybach level. The system lowers the body of the vehicle by 15mm at higher speeds to reduce the aerodynamic drag and increase driving stability. It also incorporates a Curve mode whereby the Maybach actively leans into bends, similar to a motorcycle, by up to 3 degrees in order to reduce the lateral forces. Combined with the optional 23-inch wheels shod with Pirelli P-Zeros, the Maybach has both a super-smooth ride and excellent traction. Mercedes-Benz has combined performance and comfort and achieved the best of both worlds—proving once again, life can indeed be without compromise.
Of course, for those of us that do have ‘Staff’ the Maybach comes handily equipped with the Maybach Dynamic Select drive program, an altogether more elegant term for Chauffeur mode. It even has it’s own rose-gold star on the display. According to Mercedes, this mode is fully focused on the ride comfort of those in the rear executive seats to ensure minimal body roll. I’m confident they are referring to the vehicle, but I assume this can also be applicable to the occupants. Maybach Mode also adjusts the engine and transmission settings, starting off in second gear and producing a flat acceleration curve with fewer transmission shifts, and no-engine stop/start function. All of this blends together perfectly to ensure that your Caviar remains on the Blinis and that there is minimal spillage of the vintage Dom from your Silver Robbe & Berking flute during spirited motoring.
SAFETY & ASSISTANCE FEATURES
The Maybach comes with a plethora of high-tech driver assistance and safety features. Peace of mind so that one can blissfully snooze in the back post aperitif with the full assurance that the electronics are keeping an eye on the staff. These include the automated emergency braking system, lane keeping, steering assist, and the all-important adaptive cruise control with semi-autonomous driving function.
With the GLS 600, Mercedes have extended the ultra-luxurious Maybach brand from the S Class into the SUV space to offer a compelling alternative to the Range Rover Autobiography, Bentley Bentayga, and the much higher priced Rolls Royce Cullinan. Pricing the Maybach at just under $200k was a smart move as it’s positioned at a premium against the regular GLS and Range Rover and sufficiently below the Bentley, notably attracting the loyal followers from those with a strong affinity to the Maybach brand.
The base price of my car was $160,500 and optional equipment included the Maybach Two-Tone paint at $18,500 and the Designo interior trim at $850, and the absolute must 23-inch multi-spoke wheels at $5,500. The folding rear tables, Champagne Fridge, and flute holders added another $3,700. The grand total on delivery: $190,100.
With the Maybach GLS 600, Mercedes has produced superbly built and beautifully designed SUV worthy of the Maybach marque. They have managed to incorporate the design, comfort, and performance without compromise and the attention to detail that combines lush materials with technical wizardry around performance, handling, and ride comfort is exceptional. Everyone should have one.