Mercedes-Benz will be expanding its luxury Maybach line with a plush range-topping version of its soon-to-be-revealed GLS. The third-generation of Mercedes' largest SUV is set to make its debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show 2018.
The Mercedes-Maybach GLS is marked out by its unique vertical grille slats; chrome exterior detailing, distinct badging and unique wheels are also expected. The biggest changes will be to the interior, however, where the Maybach is likely to ditch a seven-seat layout for five or even six captain's chairs, for a roomier and more luxurious layout.
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 the Bentayga and Range Rover, respectively.
Mercedes has also seen strong growth of its AMG performance arm, which achieved 1,31,970 unit sales globally in 2017, and it would like to emulate this success with Maybach on a smaller, but still profitable scale.
The model 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 the regular GLS. However, its upmarket positioning will be justified by a series of subtle exterior design tweaks and a significantly more luxurious interior.
The GLS sits on the latest Modular High Architecture (MHA) platform shared with the smaller GLE, extended to give it a similar footprint to the new BMW X7. It provides a significant reduction in kerb weight over the old GLS, 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 could 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 produces around 468hp.
The new engine, which features a cylinder shutdown function for added fuel savings in city driving, 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 in the Mercedes-Benz S560e. It combines Mercedes’ new turbocharged and electronically supercharged 367hp, 3.0-litre, in-line six-cylinder petrol engine with a 122.6hp electric motor and a lithium ion battery. It's said to offer a pure-electric range of up to 50km.
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 and Range Rover SVAutobiography.