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HomeMarketFit for a King and Queen: The Mercedes-Maybach GLS 600

Fit for a King and Queen: The Mercedes-Maybach GLS 600

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For a base price of US$165,100, the Mercedes-Maybach GLS 600 4MATIC comes very well equipped. There’s no need to check boxes for the heated and ventilated rear seats or the premium Burmester audio system with surround sound and 27 speakers. But if you want the folding rear tables, that will be another US$1,800, and the champagne flutes that sit in handcrafted silver holders in the rear console are another US$800. Cool that champagne in the US$1,100 refrigerated compartment. 

If you buy this car, you’re going to want all three of those things—they duplicate the Rolls-Royce rear-seat experience for far less money. As equipped, the car was US$175,950.

The curb weight of the GLS 600 is a bulky 6,085 pounds and the coefficient of drag a bricklike 0.37, which means a lot of power is needed to throw that weight around. And so under the hood is a four-liter twin-turbo V8 producing 550 horsepower and 538 pound-feet of torque. Put your right foot down, and it jumps forward with a mighty surge, though you can almost feel the 17-mile-per-gallon combined fuel economy drop down into single digits. A 48-volt hybrid system is on board to offer an extra boost.  

The GLS 600 is big, and six feet tall. The climb up makes the shiny step plate that slides out when you open the door quite useful. The SUV can reach 60 miles per hour in just 4.8 seconds, though driving it like that seems a little unseemly. It’s an ultimate luxury car, not a racer. The power is there to be, as Rolls-Royce once so quaintly put it, “adequate” to the situations you’re in. 

The driving position and the controls will be familiar to anyone with experience in Mercedes-Benz SUVs, especially the GLS 580 that has the same basic platform, though the extra lashings of high-quality materials are worth a nod. The steering wheel has chunks of wood so highly polished they’re slippery to hold.

Honestly, the car just wafts along on its 23-inch wheels, very quietly, aided by air suspension and a Maybach driving mode whose purpose is to virtually eliminate passenger jostling. There’s a manual mode and paddle shifters, but this car really wants to take automatic control. The nine-speed transmission controls all four wheels, meaning you can take the Maybach discreetly off the road. The air suspension will dial in more ground clearance if necessary. And the 600 can tow 7,700 pounds. 

The driving position is commanding, though it may be the chauffeur who gets to enjoy the view. The two displays are 12.3 inches each and nicely readable. 

2021 Mercedes-Maybach GLS (Euro Spec)


Despite the size, the GLS 600 does not have seven-passenger seating. That would have precluded the second-row throne room. These are a pair of first-class airline seats that massage (with a “hot stone” treatment), heat and cool, and recline/adjust in myriad ways. They come with matching pillows! Some will order a three-person-across bench, but my guess is not many. Press a button, recline to nearly prone, and watch the passing scene through the panoramic glass roof. 

Luggage space is smaller than other full-sized Mercedes SUVs and, of course, the rear seats don’t fold down. Despite this, the room behind the rear seats is not tiny at 19 cubic feet, and can be equipped with matching luggage. 

The aforementioned champagne flutes are back there, along with the tables to put them on. Within reach is a detachable seven-inch tablet. Each rear passenger gets an 11.6-inch display, which can be used to watch and adjust media. Everything’s heated, including the armrests and even the cupholders (which can also be cooled). Forget about telling the driver to raise or lower the temperature—your Executive Climate System includes a second air conditioning system that you can tailor from your throne. 

Passing a chemical plant? No worries. The Maybach has both a fragrance atomizer with an exclusive scent—light and floral white osmanthus blossom, rounded off by gentle notes of leather and spicy tea—and activated charcoal filtration with an ionizer that uses an electrical charge to create a fresh-air ambience. It goes after airborne bugs and odors. 

The GLS 600 feels like a very safe place to be, and standard are automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane-departure warning, and lane-keeping assist, and adaptive cruise control that has a semi-autonomous driving mode with active lane changing for highway use. But the system gets agitated if your hands are off the wheel for too long. 

Of course, Maybach buyers have the choice of a sedan, based on the top-of-the-line S-Class, starting at US$194,450 for 2023. Some will find it better looking than the SUV, but that’s a matter of taste. Buyers can decide between a biturbo V8 as in the 600, or a V12 for the ultimate. If you want the refrigerated rear console and champagne flutes, it’s a US$4,300 option. If that’s not exclusive enough, there’s a new Haute Voiture version that the company debuted in Dubai on Dec. 12 and describes as “one of the most extravagant models we ever created.”


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