Mercedes-Maybach is preparing to release its plush range-topping version of the upcoming third-generation GLS (formerly GL) and extend its line-up beyond the S-class.
Maybach is considered an important brand for the luxury carmaker 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 the Bentayga and Range Rover, respectively. Mercedes has also seen strong growth of its AMG performance arm and it would like to emulate this success with Maybach on a smaller, yet profitable scale.
The new SUV was first reported to be on the cards by our sister publication, Autocar UK, back in 2016. The British carmaker will preview the ultra-luxurious 4x4 later this month with a lightly veiled concept car to be debuted at the Beijing motor show. A new preview video shows some of the concept's extravagant design features. The Mercedes-Maybach GLS will then be revealed in production form at the Los Angeles motor show in November, with sales beginning in 2019.
The model will build on initiatives taken with the Mercedes-Maybach S-class which was launched two years ago. It will share the basic aluminium-and-steel body-shell and advanced four-wheel-drive underpinnings with the regular GLS. However, its upmarket positioning will be justified by a series of subtle exterior design tweaks along with a significantly more luxurious interior.
Insiders involved in the development of the forthcoming concept car (known internally as the Maybach 9) say it will not only preview the look of the SUV – with a bold new grille being among the key elements – but also highlight the kind of high-end features due to be offered, including autonomous driving functions.
“We have been quietly surprised by the sales success of the Mercedes-Maybach S-class, which is proving extremely popular in many key markets,” a high-level Mercedes official told Autocar UK. “The plan now is to extend the exclusivity surrounding the Maybach name into the upper end of the SUV segment. We’re confident that 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. Being a development of the existing MRA platform, it 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 Mercedes-Maybach GLS (which may be called the GLS 560) is likely to be offered exclusively with the AMG-developed M177 V8 petrol engine. In the recently launched S560, this twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 engine produces 468hp. The new engine features a cylinder shutdown function for added fuel savings in city driving. It will replace the twin-turbocharged 4.7-litre V8 used by today’s Mercedes-Benz GLS 500.
Also under discussion for the Mercedes-Maybach SUV is the plug-in petrol-electric drivetrain recently unveiled on the Mercedes-Benz S 560e. This combines Mercedes’ new turbocharged and electronically supercharged 3.0-litre, in-line, six-cylinder petrol engine, developing 367hp, with a 123hp electric motor and a lithium ion battery. It's said to offer a pure-electric range of up to 50km. The next GLS will be produced exclusively at Mercedes’ Tuscaloosa plant in Alabama, US.
As well as providing competition to the Bentayga, the luxury GLS has also been conceived as a rival to the likes of the Rolls-Royce Cullinan, the Range Rover SVAutobiography and the Lamborghini Urus.
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