Mercedes-Benz Unleashes the Maybach GLS 600

Why it’s even better to be driven than drive the new Mercedes-Maybach

Motoring 20 Jun 2024

The rear passenger seats in the new GLS

The rear passenger seats are undoubtedly the place to be in the new GLS

Wilhelm Maybach was a German industrialist and engineer who designed and built the first car to wear the Mercedes badge at the turn of the 20th century. His company was part of the Zeppelin aircraft company before Daimler-Benz took it over in the 1960s. In the 21st century, Mercedes had a crack at reviving the Maybach name as a stand-alone brand for luxury cars that shared some components with run-of-the-mill Mercedes models. The project was shelved in 2013, yet the label was revived a few years later to be used as the name for the deluxe versions of Mercedes models as a counterpoint to the AMG sub-brand with more of a performance focus.

In this latest guise, Maybach started by making the Mercedes pinnacle of luxury, the S-Class, even more luxurious. It was then a natural progression to create a Maybach version of the GLS as more and more clients are choosing a giant SUV as their choice of opulent transport over a large saloon car. In short, the Mercedes-Maybach version of the “standard” GLS takes the company’s most considerable SUV and turns it into a first-class flight cabin on wheels. Those wheels are 23-inch and festooned with Maybach logos, giving the car a striking profile. The front also differentiates from the standard car with a handsome grille and Maybach logo but still proudly wears a Mercedes three-pointed star hood ornament. The two-tone paintwork – a Maybach signature – is the most visible giveaway that this is not your common or garden-variety Mercedes but it is inside that you feel the full benefit of the Maybach treatment.

The GLS 600 on an off-road track
The GLS 600 handles off-road excursions with ease

Entering the vehicle triggers electrically deployed running boards that add a degree of theatre, extending and retracting as you open and close the doors. Puddle lights with the Maybach logo are de rigueur. With all of the branding and pomp on entry, if you hadn’t already guessed you were getting into a rather special Mercedes, you’d be entirely convinced once inside. The two-tone exterior is echoed by the leather interior; the most effective is the Mahogany Brown and Macchiato Beige combination, which gives a sumptuous look and feel, complemented by walnut wood trim.

Behind the wheel, the digital display has Maybach-branded, vintage-look dials, and the driver’s seat has heated and ventilated functions, as well as giving excellent massages. However, as you can imagine in this top-of-the-range GLS, it’s the rear passengers who get the most attention. Practicality has been dispensed with in the Maybach as the GLS 600 loses the third row of seats, and the second row is best optioned as two electrically reclining captain chairs. From that reclined position in the back, you may want to suggest that the driver engages the Maybach drive mode if he/ she has been rude enough not to select it already. This modes focuses on comfort for the rear passengers. And what supine conveyance would be complete without a refreshing beverage and some tunes? Happily, the centre console hides a refrigerator and two silver-plated “Maybach” champagne flutes made by Robbe & Berking, while Burmester provides the aural entertainment with a not-insignificant 27-speaker 3D surround-sound system. And with all the other sensations the 600 offers, it would be remiss to leave out the olfactory element provided by the “Air Balance” package that simultaneously purifies and introduces a signature fragrance directly into the climate control system.

The name Maybach on a Mercedes
The name Maybach on a Mercedes indicates deluxe quality within

The GLS 600 is not just a show pony. It will tackle rough terrain when needed. Offroad tracks are a doddle as the car deals with ruts and bumps admirably, even if it is a bit novel to be driven on such surfaces while reclining almost horizontally in the rear and enjoying a glass of your favourite champagne. It will also readily take to the dunes and can be optioned with E-Active Body Control, which has a recovery mode in its off-road drive programme. This will bounce the car out of a sticky situation if you get lodged in the sand – or simply amuse your friends and passers-by.

Competition comes from the likes of Bentley with its Bentayga, BMW with its X7 and possibly the Rolls-Royce Cullinan, although that car is nearly double the cost of the GLS 600. Starting at £177,745, the price of the GLS undoubtedly buys you exclusivity, as a Maybach-badged Mercedes is, for now, a rare bird on UK streets.