Mercedes-Benz is laying the groundwork for the development of a new ultra-luxury SUV to rival the forthcoming Bentley Bentayga and the long-wheelbase Range Rover.
The flagship SUV, if Mercedes goes ahead with the project, will be the second member of its new Mercedes-Maybach sub-brand, which launches this week with an S-Class-based limousine for the rich and famous (pictured bottom).
It will be based on the next generation of the company’s biggest SUV, the GL, which will take on the GLS nameplate as part of a mid-life update due to appear at September’s Frankfurt motor show (pictured in spy shot below).
Given the update is launching this year, expect to see said all-new GLS around 2017. It would be a logical extension thereby to suggest any Mercedes-Maybach version would launch globally around early 2018 — two years after the Bentley.
The Mercedes-Maybach sub-brand will form a bookend for the Stuttgart company, with the other being performance arm Mercedes-AMG. It doesn’t make sense for M-M to cover all segments like AMG, but the possibilities extend beyond the S-Class.
This runs counter to Mercedes’ previous attempt to revive the famed Maybach badge, in which it pitched the luxo limo right at the Rolls-Royce Phantom and based it on standalone architecture. It only sold 13 in Australia, and announced it would disband the brand in 2011.
Speaking with media including CarAdvice at this week’s world launch of the new car, S-Class product management director Martin Hulder said the company was now looking at ways to embark on a Mercedes-Maybach expansion, specifically citing an SUV as the logical place to start.
“A lot of people have asked if Mercedes Maybach is limited to the S-Class or do we have the option to expand it to other car lines,” he said.
“We haven’t decided about that, we are thinking about that, but theoretically it’s possible right? Take a look to Mercedes-AMG, which we also use in other car lines. Obviously Mercedes-Maybach has probably more limitations than Mercedes-AMG.
“… An SUV also has some advantages against a sedan, seating position for example, and therefore you can take a look to a GL which has a certain substance and you then [theoretically] offer a Maybach package on that and a six-digit price range (in euros).”
Naturally, given any such vehicle is some time away, specific details must give way to speculation. It’s worth noting though that the current GL tops out at $216,930 plus on-road costs in 63 AMG form, while the Range Rover Autobiography LWB is $260,800.
The Mercedes-Maybach SUV and the Bentley Bentayga will be some way north of that, you’d think. Given about 50 per cent of all Mercedes-Maybach S-Class limos will be sold in China, the prospective SUV’s biggest market seems a no-brainer…