Mercedes-Benz’s upmarket Maybach sub-brand is preparing to extend its line-up beyond the S-class with a plush range-topping version of the upcoming third-generation GLS (formerly GL).
Maybach is considered an important brand for Mercedes to develop given the rising demand for luxury models, particularly in the SUV sector, with rivals such as Bentley and Land Rover having notable success with their respective Bentayga and Range Rover.
Mercedes has also seen strong growth from its AMG performance arm, a success which it would like to emulate with Maybach on a smaller but profitable scale. The new SUV is set to make its debut as a lightly veiled concept car at the Beijing motor show in April. It will then be revealed in production guise at the Los Angeles motor show in November.
The new Mercedes-Maybach GLS will build on initiatives taken with the two-year-old Mercedes-Maybach S-class. It will share the same basic aluminium and steel bodyshell and advanced four-wheel-drive underpinnings as less-heavily specified versions of the new GLS.
According to our sister publication, Autocar UK, sources state that the car – internally referred to as the Maybach 9 – will highlight its upmarket positioning by a series of subtle exterior design tweaks and a significantly more luxurious interior than standard versions of the US-built SUV. It will not only preview the look of the new model with elements aiming to provide it with added exclusivity, but will also highlight the sort of upmarket features – including autonomous driving functions – to be offered on the production version of the SUV.
While speaking to our sister publication Autocar UK, a high-level official said, “We have been surprised by the sales success of the Mercedes-Maybach S-class, which is proving extremely popular in many key markets. The plan, now, is to extend the exclusivity surrounding the Maybach name into the upper end of the SUV segment. We’re confident this new model will leave little to be desired, in terms of luxury.”
The basis for the new GLS is Mercedes-Benz’s MHA (Modular High Architecture) platform. This is a development of the existing MRA platform which is intended to underpin a series of new models – including the new GLE and GLE Coupé. It provides a significant reduction in kerb weight, the capability to support a 48V electrical architecture and the very latest in radar, camera and sensor-supported driving functions.
The Maybach-badged GLS is likely to be offered exclusively with the Mercedes-AMG-developed M177 V8 petrol engine. This twin-turbo 4.0-litre V8 produces 468hp in the S 560, which was launched, recently. This presents the possibility of the new model being called GLS 560 for production. The new engine also features a cylinder-shutdown function for added fuel savings in city driving.
Also being discussed for the new Mercedes-Maybach model is the plug-in petrol-electric drivetrain unveiled in the S 560e. It combines Mercedes’ new turbocharged and electronic supercharged 3.0-litre in-line six-cylinder petrol engine and develops 367hp with a 123hp electric motor. The proposed variant for the new GLS is claimed to use a lithium-ion battery for a pure-electric range of up to 50km.
With the GLS produced exclusively at Mercedes’ Tuscaloosa plant in Alabama, the luxury SUV will be the first Maybach model to be produced in the US. As well as providing stiff competition to the Bentayga, the Maybach GLS has also been conceived as a rival to the likes of the Rolls-Royce Cullinan and Range Rover SVAutobiography.