Big wheels, high ground clearance, an imposing view of the road, projector headlamps, and a sunroof to stick your head out of – are you salivating?
A combination of these factors is what carmakers have realised to be the new way to entice their customers and the final package is called the SUV.
The SUV bug has bitten not just carmakers like Ford and Suzuki, but even luxury carmakers like Bentley and Rolls Royce have marked their presence in the segment.
It all started with Porsche and its SUV, the Cayenne. When the SUV was first launched, auto journalists felt that the German automobile manufacturer had forgotten its roots and was now making cars no one wanted to buy. A carmaker, which made sporty cars, was now making SUVs.
But, the Cayenne took the market by storm and suddenly, everyone wanted to be seen in a big beefy SUV. Other carmakers followed suit, Mercedes came up with the GLS (back then, the M-Class) and Audi made the Q7.
These cars sold in good numbers, which led sports carmakers like Ferrari and Lamborghini to seriously consider this segment. Now, Lamborghini has the Urus, Maserati has the Levante, Aston Martin has the DBX (to go on sale next year), and Ferrari has the Purosangue coming up in 2022.
Talking about the luxury carmakers, Rolls Royce has the Cullinan and Bentley has the Bentayga. These cars have not only redefined the luxury segment, but they have also redefined how the rich travel. Gone are the days of travelling in sedans. Today’s celebrities are seen more in SUVs than luxury saloons.
Following the trend
India has been no exception to this, and a glance at celebs in the country will show how everyone from Ranveer Singh to Rohit Shetty, and even Ajay Devgan all own SUVs mentioned in this article.
This is without even venturing into the Land Rover and Toyota’s Land Cruiser family of true-blue SUVs that have been catering to this segment since 1948.
That’s not all, we now have the Extreme E series, an all-SUV racing series, which plans to race electric SUVs in some of the most remote corners of the planet. The message is clear – SUVs are in and they are here to stay.
The new Mercedes Maybach
This explains why Mercedes decided to have a piece of this market and created an SUV, which will take on the super-luxury SUV segment – the Mercedes Maybach GLS 600. The car is launching China later this month and will be launched globally in the first half of 2020.
In this market, how could Mercedes hold back? We already have the G-Wagon at Rs 1.5 crore – nothing short of luxurious. But now, the heads at Mercedes decided that they need to have an SUV in their Maybach line up. Hence, the Maybach GLS 600.
The company says that this SUV is based on the GLS usually associated with top-class sedans. To achieve this level of finesses, Mercedes has fitted the car with an AIRmatic suspension, which keeps the SUV stable and not let any bumps bother the people sitting inside the car.
The luxurious beast is powered by a 4.0-litre V8 engine with 550 PS of power. The peak torque is at an earth-shattering 730 Nm. This engine has been developed exclusively for the Maybach, which moves the car discreetly and powerfully.
The gearbox is a nine-speed automatic unit. Also, the engine is combined with the 48-volt system EQ Boost for more power and less noise. Exactly how much power? Just 21 PS of power and 250 Nm of torque.
To ensure better noise insulation, a rigid partition and has been installed in the fixed parcel shelf behind the rear seats, separating the interior from the luggage compartment.
Performance figures are equally impressive. The super-luxury SUV can sprint from 0 to 100 kmph in 4.8 seconds while the top speed is electronically limited to 250 kmph. That’s even more impressive considering that the SUV weighs 2,710 kg.
The standard equipment of the Mercedes Maybach GLS 600 is decidedly luxurious. The two outer rear seats can be electronically converted into reclining seats. Fine Nappa leather has been used for the padded areas and the dashboard.
The list is mind-boggling – electronic panoramic sliding/tilting sunroof with an opaque roller blind, heated and ventilated massaging seats. On special request, the fixed centre console transforms the car into a spacious four-seater whose rear is just as suitable for working as it is for relaxing.
This console is also available with extending, folding tables, and even a refrigerator with space for champagne bottles.
The standard separate air conditioner for the rear seats features additional vents and heater boosters with which temperature control is even faster. There is a dedicated Maybach drive programme for the suspension and powertrain, offering the ultimate in-ride comfort.
With the standard MBUX Rear Tablet in the centre console or the armrest between the rear seats, the comfort and entertainment functions can also be intuitively controlled from the rear seats. The integration of digital devices used by passengers comprises all of the common standards, including smartphone connectivity and control of the infotainment system.
The Burmester High-End 3D Surround Sound system, connected to 27 high performance speakers and 24 separate amplifier channels, provides an overall output of 1,590 watts.
This is not all – Mercedes has developed a special fragrance as part of the optional air balance package – the white Osmanthus blossom, floral and light, is rounded off by a gentle leather note, and spicy tea.
One of the major problems of any SUV is ingress and egress. To take care of this, Mercedes has fitted the new Maybach with concealed running boards that automatically swing into position in one second of the door being opened.
While the world of ultra-luxury SUVs has not only gained a new member, the Mercedes Maybach GLS 600 marks one of the world’s oldest carmakers’ entry into an elite gas-guzzling club. However, with the world economy going through turbulent times, it will be interesting to see how it fares.
(Edited by Saheli Sen Gupta)