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Mercedes-Maybach GLS 600 can dance its way into your heart

S.Muralidhar | Updated on July 30, 2021

GLS 600 has adaptive tail-lamps to increase intensity based on ambient conditions

GLS 600 has adaptive tail-lamps to increase intensity based on ambient conditions

The top of the dash, the door belt lines and the centre panel are all fashioned out of nappa leather

The first Mercedes SUV to wear the MM logo is sheer opulence on four wheels. It can also bounce its way out of a sticky spot

The rarefied world of Uber luxury automobiles has been dominated by a small clique of car makers. But with demand for new body styles (read SUVs), new countries and new buyers joining the club of millionaires, this market has been expanding. And, like has been the case with other segments of the car industry, it is also breaking into sub-segments based on price and brand loyalty. Mercedes-Maybach’s strategy hinges on the emergence of new buyers who are brand loyalists, or those that are seeking a more opulent ride but won’t empty their pockets on a Rolls or a Bentley.

GLS 600 has adaptive tail-lamps to increase intensity based on ambient conditions

 

After the brand’s revival under Mercedes, the first Maybach was sold in India in 2011. The S560 Maybach later became the first to be assembled locally in India. The Mercedes-Maybach GLS 600 was launched a few weeks ago, giving the 3-pointed star a new flagship luxury SUV and a whole new audience to address. Maybach brand vehicles are built on the same basic mould of Merc vehicles. Given the brand’s super luxury positioning, these are typically only flagships. Like the S-Class Maybach, the GLS 600 is based on Merc’s biggest SUV. But, even though its overall length is nearly identical, the Maybach GLS 600 is bigger where it matters. It is wider and taller, and offers almost four inches of extra space for the rear seat passengers. And unlike the Merc GLS, the Maybach doesn’t sport a third row of seats; instead the second row gets even more play to allow an airline business class style recline. Of course, the MM GLS 600 can be specified with a bench at the rear, but why would you, when the recliner-like individual seats with electrically operated footrests can cool, heat and/or massage your back after a tiring day.

Design

The GLS 600 looks like a big upgrade to the standard Merc GLS, if one were to consider only the overall design. Except for the rear, where the similar tail-lamp and tailgate design gives it the GLS identity, there are a lot of special additions at the front. Under the Mumbai sun, the first design characteristic that strikes me is the amount of chrome that adorns the GLS 600. High-gloss paint and polished chrome panels make this a difficult car to shoot pictures of without using filters. The focus of the design is to make this more imposing and special compared to the regular GLS. The grille is the classic 29-vertical bar Maybach grille in chrome, the air-inlet grilles in the front fender and the underbody protector are also finished in high-gloss chrome. The rear gets its share with the thick diffuser and twin exhausts, and garnishes in chrome. The window frame and belt line also sparkle in chrome and the B-pillar is clad in the same material. The special 22-inch, multi-spoke, light-weight alloy wheels are another highlight that give the side profile a lot of character. Smart move to keep out the chrome from the rear door frame, making the rear strikingly elongated.

The Mercedes-Maybach MM logo sits on the D-pillar, just above the haunches and the puddle lamps will light up your driveway when the front doors are opened. We’ve heard of adaptive headlamps that avoid dazzling the oncoming traffic. But the GLS 600 also gets adaptive tail-lamps to increase intensity based on ambient conditions. One unique feature in the GLS 600 is that it lowers down and auto-deploys a retractable running board for passengers to daintily get in and out of the vehicle. Close the door and the running board swings under the body and it is tucked away.

The top of the dash, the door belt lines and the centre panel are all fashioned out of nappa leather

 

Cabin

Where the Maybach GLS 600 scores the necessary points to stay in the super luxury car club is the authenticity of materials used. No where is it better felt than in the cabin. If you seem to be touching leather, it is genuine nappa. Are the pedals clad in stainless steel? Yes, they are. The dashboard layout is very similar to the standard GLS, with high set aircon vents and the massive dual screen that houses both the digital instrument cluster and the infotainment touchscreen. The top of the dash, the door belt lines and the centre panel are all fashioned out of nappa leather. There is piano-lacquered wood trim and contrast metal panels all around. Ambient lighting, Maybach branded, leather-wrapped chunky steering wheel and executive seats with over generous squabs and side bolstering make the front seats two of the plushest one can experience in this class.

Lots of discreet lighting, including ones that highlight the cabin’s focus on the passengers at the rear, make it classy. My test mule had quite a bit of optional equipment that can be specified by the customer at the time of ordering the GLS 600. This included the small refrigerator and the champagne glass holders in the rear armrest. The real experience inside the Maybach GLS is, but of course, while travelling fully stretched out in one of the rear executive seats. The way to travel is with one’s feet up, the soft leather neck pillow cradling your head, one of the massage programmes activating your backside and with a faint aroma from the perfume diffuser wafting in the air. The panoramic sunroof helpfully extends to just past the rear backrest, so staring at the stars while contemplating your next corporate acquisition should also be possible!

MBUX integration with voice commands, smartphone connectivity, a Burmester surround sound system, other connected car features, a whole host of sensors and the latest iteration of the head-up display with navigation aids makes driving the GLS 600 quite easy despite its size.

Performance

The Mercedes-Maybach GLS 600 features a 4-litre, turbocharged, V8 petrol engine. This AMG developed, 3,982 cc engine generates 557 hp of peak power and 730 Nm of peak torque; that is nearly 190 hp and 230 Nm more than the output of the regular GLS’s V6. In addition, the Maybach GLS 600 also gets a 48-volt EQ boost system that delivers an extra 22 hp and 250 Nm. The output is sent to the wheels via Merc’s 4MATIC all-wheel drive system and controlled with the help of its 9G-TRONIC auto gearbox. Even with so much power and torque available, the GLS 600 delivers a controlled on-road performance. The idea is to keep the rear passengers cocooned in comfort and to eliminate all evidence of stress being put on the powertrain.

This is a heavy vehicle and I feel that when accelerating from standstill. But much of what seems like dulled response at part throttle is actually the fantastic gearbox and the airmatic suspension nullifying any creeping G-force or shift shocks from entering the cabin. There is even a Maybach drive program to optimise this. It can still do the sprint to 100 kmph in 4.9 seconds when it needs to. Imperceptible gear shifts and adaptive damping system makes the ride quality very different from other Mercs.

Safety kit and driver assistance systems are extensive and include eight airbags, camera and radar- based active assists. One of the optional additions is e-active body control, which is an extended fully active suspension to perform functions like active curve tilting and the off-road recovery mode where the vehicle can literally dance its way out of a sticky situation.

Bottom Line

The Mercedes-Maybach GLS 600 is a key addition worldwide for the brand. The SUV wave is sweeping across the super luxury segment too, and it is only fitting that a Maybach can cater to that demand. It is still going to have to compete on price and value with the big boys in the super luxe category, the likes of Bentley and Rolls-Royce. But apparently Merc is doing that very well; all 50 units allocated for India this year were sold out already at the time of launch. So, if you are looking to add this to your fleet, you’ll need about ₹2.43 crore (ex-showroom price) and be willing to wait till Q1 2022.

Published on July 29, 2021

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